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It wouldn’t be an NCAA Tournament without Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks, now would it?

Certain teams are almost always locks to make March Madness in a given year. Much like Michigan State and Syracuse, the Jayhawks are seemingly always in play for a chance to win the NCAA National Championship game.

Kansas has won the tournament before, but it’s been quite a few years. When did the Jayhawks last end March Madness with a title, and how many times have they done it entering this year’s tournament?

Bill Self and Kansas are in the NCAA Tournament again

It has been over 30 years since the Kansas Jayhawks missed an NCAA Tournament.

The Jayhawks’ 2021 appearance marks the 31st straight year that Kansas will compete in March Madness. Kansas, a No. 3 seed in this year’s tournament, opens the first round on Saturday, March 20, against No. 14 Eastern Washington.

This is very familiar territory for Bill Self, who has been the Jayhawks’ head coach since 2003. Self is 521-117 at Kansas and has reached the Elite Eight seven times in that span.

The Jayhawks’ most recent Final Four appearance came in the spring of 2018, when they lost to Villanova, the eventual champions.

Kansas has won only one title under Bill Self

Considering how successful the Kansas Jayhawks have been in the nearly 20 years that Bill Self has been there, it’s somewhat surprising they only have one championship in that span.

That title came in April 2008, when Kansas ended a 37-3 season by defeating Derrick Rose and Memphis in the National Championship game. Trailing by three with 2.1 seconds left, Kansas guard Mario Chalmers hit a miracle 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.

Kansas outscored Memphis 12-5 in the final period for a 75-68 victory.

Kansas has not reached the championship since April 2012, when the Jayhawks lost, 67-59, to Anthony Davis and Kentucky.

How many NCAA Tournament titles have the Jayhawks won?


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Entering the 2021 NCAA Tournament, the Jayhawks have won three national championships.

Kansas’ first title came in 1952 when the NCAA Tournament involved only 16 teams as opposed to 68. Interestingly, the 1952 tournament was the first to have a Final Four format that resembles what is in place today.

It would be nearly 40 years before the Jayhawks stood on top of the college basketball world again. With Larry Brown as head coach and Danny Manning starring at forward, Kansas defeated Oklahoma in the 1988 National Championship game.

The Jayhawks, a No. 6 seed, took down a No. 1 seed in the Sooners. Despite playing the National Championship in Kansas City, Mo. — only 40 miles away from Lawrence, Kan., where the Jayhawks’ campus is — the Jayhawks were heavy underdogs.

And, most recently, the Jayhawks defeated Memphis in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Only time will tell if Kansas is able to win another title in the Bill Self era and if they can soon snap their championship drought.

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