1940, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1988, 1991, 2003, 2008, and 2012.
These years represent the championship appearances made by the University of Kansas basketball team. Over the past few decades, the Jayhawks have been a consistent contender in the NCAA tournament year after year, having earned a spot in the national tournament 42 times, with 14 final four appearances in the books.
They have won the national championship three times: defeating St. John’s University in 1952, the University of Oklahoma in 1988, and Memphis in 2008. Compared to seasons past, this season has proven to be turbulent for this usually expectant spitfire team.
The Jayhawks started off with an especially rocky start to this season: losses to Villanova, the University of Colorado, Florida, and San Diego State proved to be a surprise during the first part of their 2013-2014 season. In particular, the loss to San Diego State was the most shocking of the losses, considering that the loss to the Montezumas was the first home loss for the Jayhawks since 2006, ending a 68-game winning streak. These losses caused the Jayhawks to plummet from their preseason number 5 ranking to number 18.
Yet this past Saturday proved something different for this season that Kansas has experienced so far. The Jayhawks defended their home turf of Allen Fieldhouse, defeating the #9 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys 80-78, in a game that came down to the final seconds. The Jayhawks played an excellent first half, but came apart in the second, almost letting the Cowboys take the win.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma’s all-star sophomore guard, almost earned the win for the Cowboys by scoring a layup with 24 seconds remaining in the game, bringing the Cowboys within four to the Jayhawks, 79-75. After Frank Mason of Kansas missed his free throw, guard Phil Forte of Oklahoma scored a 3-pointer, bringing the game within one point with 5.7 seconds left in the game.
What lays ahead of the Jayhawks? The remainder of the season includes a few challenges: a number 12 ranked Baylor this coming Monday, number 8 ranked Iowa State on the 29th of January, and Texas and West Virginia finishing up their regular season. However, considering the fact that Kansas coach Bill Self (who has been head coach of the Jayhawks since 2003) has led the Jayhawks to the Big 12 Conference regular season championships nine years straight, it looks as if this talented program will pull through the remainder of the 2014 season.
Indiana earned the first trophy in 1940. University of North Carolina won in 1957. The loss in 1991 was to Duke. Syracuse took the trophy in 2003, followed by Kentucky in 2012. Who will try to stand in the Jayhawks’ way this year?