Kansas winning eight straight Big 12 titles is just … absurd


Kansas has won eight consecutive regular-season conference titles. Let that sink in. Eight straight.

That’s not just impressive, it’s absurd.

When the No. 3 Jayhawks beat Oklahoma State Monday night, it clinched the crown outright, in a season when they not only lost six key players and four starters from a 35-3 squad, but Baylor and Missouri produced seasons in which both were top 10 mainstays.

Yet, here’s Kansas (25-5, 15-2 in Big 12) winning the league crown yet again. For the eighth year in a row. If it doesn’t sound impressive, consider that Syracuse has nine Big East regular-season titles, total. It’s just … absurd.

Even talented teams have down years. Even if the Big 12 doesn’t match the Big East or Big Ten for great teams at the top, it’s not like it’s been filled with cream puffs. But the Jayhawks won. Again.

“I just want to thank everybody that said we weren’t going to win it this year. We got (No.) 8 baby. This one feels good, too,” junior Thomas Robinson said, from a story by Gary Bedore.

“We knew what we had before we hit the floor (this season), before the whole world saw it. I knew our guys weren’t scared to work hard. Proving ourselves to people was motivation to us. I think it had everything to do with it, to prove to everybody we could come back and defend our title.”

Defend it they did. Kanas has shared the crown three times during this stretch (’05, ’06 and ’08), but they lapped the field when the chance to take down the champs was perfect. But they thrived in the home-and-away schedule, winning at K-State, at Baylor and holding court against everyone. Only Iowa State Texas remains, but Saturday’s game is Senior Night in Lawrence. Hard to see Kansas losing that one.

This isn’t a perfect team. It’s not deep, it’s not great on perimeter defense and it can be sloppy with the ball. But Self – now 122-23 in Big 12 play – has said they’ve been fun to coach and fun to watch this season.

It might just be the most gratifying league title of them all.

“It feels amazing because a lot of people didn’t think we’d be this good this year,” senior Tyshawn Taylor said. “I think if you asked us at the beginning of the year, our goal was to always win a Big 12 championship. We prepared like we wanted to win.”

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?