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Amazing Kansas Tournament Coincidences

Posted by jrswift on April 12, 2008

Amazing KU 1988/2008 Parallels


Both teams were a preseason favorite to win it all. Both teams had a midseason “gut check” and both teams finished strong. Both had strong senior leadership but also key contributions from underclassmen. Both teams were beaten in the regular season by another league team that played far into the tournament. Both teams drew inspiration during the tournament from a fallen teammate. In 1988 Archie Marshall, a transfer, hurt his knee. In 2008, Rodrick Stewart, a transfer, hurt his knee.


1988 was Larry Brown’s 5th season and 2008 was Bil Self’s 5th season. Both coaches were widely expected to leave KU for another job. Self worked as a Graduate Assistant under Brown at Kansas. He took the place of John Caliperi who also worked as a Graduate Assistant under Ted Owens and Brown. Both Owens and Brown sat in the KU section during the 2008 finals. Danny Manning, the MOP of the 1988 tournament was one of Self’s assistants in 2008. In 1988, Manning’s father was an assistant coach and he won the MOP. In 2008, Mario Chalmers’ father was an assistant and he won the MOP.


In both 1988 and 2008, KU played the first two rounds of the tournament in the state of Nebraska and the the Regional finals in Detroit. In 1988, the Final Four was in a Big 8 city but not one with a team in the league, Kansas City. In 2008, it was held in a Big 12 city but not one with a team in the league, San Antonio.


Ed Hightower officiated in both the 1988 and 2008 game.

Path to the Championship:

In 1988 and 2008, Kansas did not face a team seeded higher than 4th in route to the Final Four. They faced an upset winner in the both the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8. Their closest game (in margin of victory) in the tournament was against a team seeded 10th or higher. In 1988, they defeated Murray St. by only 3 points and needed a miss in the final seconds to survive. In 2008, they defeated Davidson by 2 points and needed a miss in the final seconds to survive. In both years, Kansas St. and Vanderbilt were in the same regional. Kansas had to defeat a team coached by Lon Kruger, a native of Kansas, in both years (Kansas St. in 88, UNLV in 08.) In both years, they defeated a team starting with the letter “V” in the Sweet 16. In both years, they faced an ACC school in the National Semifinals and, after getting out to a large lead in the first half, had to survive a strong comeback in the second half. Both Duke in 1988 and Carolina in 2008 had shots seemingly go in and then pop out that would have gotten them within one possession. Both the 88 and 08 teams had to defeat the #1 ranked team in route to the championship. In both 1988 and 2008, key bench players made major contributions during the title run: Keith Harris, Scooter Barry and Clint Normore in 1988; Sasha Kaun, Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich in 2008.

Title game:

The 1988 game was tied at the end of the first half. The 2008 game was tied at the end of the second half. KU scored 33 points in the second half of the 1988 game and 33 points in the first half of the 2008 game. Their finals opponents were very similar teams. Memphis and Oklahoma were widely viewed as athletic teams who could run and gun with anyone but played great defense. They were both led by brash coaches who had never won a title. Both teams faced and defeated a Pac 10 school in the national semifinals. Both teams seemed to wear down late in the game, probably because neither coach substituted much in the game, electing to go with their starting 5 as much as possible. On the other hand, Kansas substituted freely and seemed fresh at the end. In 1988, Danny Manning made two key free throws late that made it a two possession game. In 2008, Mario Chalmers made two key free throws late that made it a two possession game.  As the lower seeded team, Kansas wore their blue uniforms in both games.


The 2008 title was once again won by one of the elite programs in college basketball. This has been the case in all tournaments held in years ending in an eight. Kentucky won the title in 48, 58, 78 and 98. Kansas in 88 and 08. UCLA won in 68, the only team not starting with the letter “K” to win it in a year ending in an eight. These three programs, along with Indiana and North Carolina, are also the only ones in college basketball to win titles separated by 20 years or more. UCLA and Kentucky won their last two titles exactly 20 years apart and now Kansas has too. Kansas is the only school to perform that feat twice as their 1988 title was 36 years after their 1952 title. These three schools also also the only ones to have 5 or more Most Outstanding Players in the tournament. Kansas has won five, despite only winning three titles. In 1988, KU’s victory took place on the 20th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. In 2008, KU defeated Memphis, the city in which Dr. King was assassinated. 2008 was also the first time since 1988 that Cornell and Baylor made the tournament.

OK…well that was all I could think of. Further contributions are welcome.

Note: I will edit this list from time to time if I receive further contributions. If you see your coincidence included, consider this a “thank you.”



2 Responses to “Amazing Kansas Tournament Coincidences”

  1. Travis Wright said

    Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln.

    Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy.

  2. bw said

    UNC has also won titles separated by greater than 20 years (’57 and ’82)

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