Kansas has a lot of wins in the NCAA tournament. The number is 95 for those who are counting. Surely, with them have come many moments for the team’s fans to remember.
But its losses are what the rest of the college basketball world remembers most; especially the ones over the last nine years.
The biggest beneficiaries of them are players like Trey Burke and Ali Farokhmanesh and schools such as Bucknell and Bradley.
The 2005 Bison team and the 2006 Braves were seeded 14th and 13th respectively when they defeated the Jayhawks. They could say all who were watching, except Jayhawks fans, were rooting them on.
There is no upset in March Madness that gathers more interest than one where the name brand team is the favorite. What better brand is there in college basketball than Kansas? It is a school all fair weather college basketball fans that arrive in March know about.
Everyone should have seen the upset of the 2005 Kansas team coming as the team had started by winning 19 of its first 20 games before losing five of its last nine games. Bucknell had also beat a power conference team that made it into the NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh.
But it was still not a 12-seed, often where upset minded teams come from.
The first sign the Jayhawks showed they were going to aid in their opponent’s upset bid was when a three pointer, the first basket for the Bison, turned into four points because the shooter was fouled.
The gift trimmed Bucknell’s deficit to one point. Surprisingly, Bucknell later amassed a large lead not because of Kansas’ miscues, but its own skills and effort.
On its way to taking a 22-14 lead, it had a putback, fadaway and a behind the back pass that led to a dunk.
While Kansas took a 31-28 lead into the half, Bucknell did not whimper. In fact, the Bison held the lead for the better part of the last 14 minutes of the game, making it all the more devastating if they would have lost.
They almost did lose on an inbounds play that was identical to Christian Laettner’s buzzer beating shot against Kentucky in 1992.
Kansas’ Wayne Simien, who had 24 points, caught a full court pass at the free throw line, but missed a turnaround jumper with the ball hitting the front of the rim.
2006: Four-seeded Kansas’ loss to 13-seeded Bradley in road of 64
Does lightning strike the same place twice? Or rather, can a huge favorite be upset in two consecutive years in the round of 64? The answer for Kansas to the latter is yes.
While the first time the Jaywawks were primed to be upset, Kansas was the last team that should have been predicted to be upset in 2006. The Jayhawks won 15 of their last 16 games and must have had the previous season’s early exit on their minds.
But after 15 straight NCAA tournaments of advancing to the round of 32, they were defeated again by a low seed in No. 13 Bradley.
The Braves, unafraid, went right at Kansas, taking a 13-6 lead with a three pointer from Marcellus Sommerville at the top of the arc, 6:40 into the game.
To put salt on the wound, Bradley added a buzzer beating 3 from beyond even NBA range to give them a 37-27 lead at the break.
The Braves might have just been a really good team. It did not give up the lead the entire second half, winning 77-73. It led in its game against Pittsburgh for nearly the entire game to advance to the Sweet 16 with s 72-66 victory.
A Bill Self-led Kansas team finally put all its demons in the rearview mirror in 2008, Ironically most college basketball were behind the team when they came back to win the 2008 national championship by beating Memphis, led by its much hated head coach John Calipari.
Afterwards, it was in for more memorable losses that are stored away in March Madness lore.
2010: One-seeded Kansas’ loss to nine-seeded Northern Iowa in the round of 32
Some would have taken Kansas against the field in the 2010 NCAA tournament. But Northern Iowa got in its way in the round of 32.
In its upset losses, Kansas did not have a game stolen away from it. Rather, it drew the best of the underdogs. The Panthers were no different.
UNI’s Jordan Eglseder used something of a set shot, though ugly, from the three point line to account for the first basket in a 10-2 run in the first two and a half minutes of the game.
Eglseder’s make was his second three pointer of the season and amounted to the last lead change of the game.
Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh took it from there with three pointers galore and he also had a sweet around the back pass.
Everyone remembers his play with 35 seconds left in the game, With the Panthers up 63-62 and seven seconds between the game clock and shot clock, he swished a three pointer instead of running down the clock, leading to a 69-67 win for his team.
2013: One-seeded Kansas gives up big lead and loses to four-seeded Michigan in Sweet 16
Only three years later, Michigan’s Trey Burke would have a 3 of his own against Kansas at the end of the game. It was well way beyond the arc to tie it after being down 10 with two and a half minutes left in the second half. The Jayhawks lost in overtime, 87-85.
As the NCAA Tournament is only a day way, one cannot help but think that another memorable loss is due for a young Kansas team, bringing joy to college basketball fans. But at least the supposed bad guy keeps returning to the biggest stage, making the Jayhawks a Jack Nicholson of college basketball.