Posted on Kansan.com on February 25th, 2014. Ran in University Daily Kansan on February 26th, 2014.
With the win against Oklahoma on Big Monday, Kansas clinched its 10th straight Big 12 conference championship. In the past 10 years, there have been more conference championships than losses at Allen Fieldhouse. Even though Kansas has asserted its “decade of dominance” over the past 10 years and is the birthplace of basketball, other programs around the nation have been dominant as well when it comes to basketball conference championships.
Currently, only four other teams come close to Kansas’ record. Those four teams aren’t from a power conference either. Belmont (Ohio Valley Conference), Bucknell (Patriot League), Harvard (Ivy League) and Long Beach State (Big West Conference) are the teams that currently have three straight conference titles in basketball. And it looks like the streak will be coming to an end for some of those teams. Belmont is tied for first in its conference. Bucknell is currently sitting four games back in its league. Long Beach State is seated third, but is one game behind UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine.
No one will be catching Kansas for quite some time. Kansas is currently tied with the old streaks of Connecticut and University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Connecticut (while in the Yankee Conference) had 10 consecutive titles in 1951-1960.
UNLV (Big West) also sat atop its conference for 10 seasons back in 1983-1992. In that time span, UNLV advanced to the Sweet Sixteen six times, the Elite Eight four times, the Final Four three times and was crowned NCAA champions in 1990.
Only two other teams have maintained conference dominance for longer. Gonzaga (West Coast) held 11 straight conference titles from 2001-2011. The Bulldogs advanced to the Sweet Sixteen three times during that period, but didn’t advance any farther.
Before the days of Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), John Calipari (Kentucky), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) and Bill Self, there was a man who knew what it was like to win. John Wooden, “the Wizard of Westwood,” coached UCLA (while in the PAC-8 and PAC-10 conferences) to 13 straight conference championships from 1967-1979. UCLA didn’t just dominate its conference, it dominated all of college basketball. The team made it to the Final Four all 13 seasons and won seven straight national championships.
In the span of 10 straight conference championships, Kansas has made it to the Sweet Sixteen six times, the Elite Eight four times, the Final Four twice and the championship game twice, winning the national championship in 2008 and being national runner-ups in 2012.
UCLA stacks up beyond comparison. Its presence in college basketball is unprecedented. It’s easier to compare to UNLV and Gonzaga. Kansas has the same amount of Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight appearances and national championships as UNLV during its conference championship reign. Where differences lie is that UNLV has been to the Final Four three times, with Kansas advancing twice. However, Kansas has two NCAA Championship game appearances during its reign, while UNLV only has one.
Comparing Kansas to Gonzaga, Kansas stacks up better. With Gonzaga not moving past the Sweet Sixteen and only making it that far three times, it’s easy to say that these Kansas teams are more dominant in the national scheme of things than the Gonzaga teams were.