9 through 1…
9. March 23, 2012 vs. No. 11 North Carolina State, 60-57
During North Carolina State’s NCAA Title run in 1983, their coach, the late Jimmy Valvano, coined the term “Survive and Advance.” It became very ironic that Kansas would find a way to “Survive and Advance” against Valvano’s old team. Going 1-14 from three, 11-20 from the line and shooting an overall 37.5%, Bill Self’s team just simply found a way to win. Without Jeff Withey, the win may have never happened. Withey recorded ten blocks, tying Cole Aldrich’s for most blocks in a game in KU history.
8. March 18, 2012 vs. No. 10 Purdue, 63-60
In the midst of their memorable 2012 National Championship Game run, there were a handful of games that left KU fans thinking “I’m really not sure how they run that game.” The Purdue game probably tops them all. Robbie Hummel, Purdue’s All-American Forward, scored 26 points, including 5-9 from three-point range. The Jayhawks simply did not have an answer. Down by one point with under a minute to go and without the ball, Bill Self’s team needed a big play. Elijah Johnson provided it. Stealing it away from Lewis Jackson and finishing the lay-up to take the lead with 23.3 seconds left. On the next possession, Hummel missed a three which would’ve provided Purdue the lead and KU escaped.
7. March 31, 2012 vs. No. 2 Ohio State, 64-62
The National Semifinal was a rematch of a game played in Lawrence earlier in the year, with one “minor” change. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State’s All-American forward, did not play in Kansas’ 78-67 win in Allen Fieldhouse, but would be playing in New Orleans. The Buckeyes took a 13-point lead early in the contest, and the Jayhawks found themselves in need of a spark. The spark came as the first-half buzzer sounded. In the final seconds of the half, Aaron Craft, with his team up 11 points, drove into the lane only to run into Jeff Withey, turning the ball over. The ball ended up in Tyshawn Taylor’s hands, who found a streaking Travis Releford just in time, allowing Releford to finish the fastbreak with no time to spare. The halftime lead was now nine and the momentum was on Kansas’ side. They rode the momentum into the second half and continued to decrease the Ohio State lead, eventually having a three-point advantage with less than ten seconds left. Bill Self worked the “foul up three” approach, sending Craft to the line who was unable to make up the deficit. Kansas won and advanced to their second National Championship game under Self.
6. January 4, 2016 vs. No. 2 Oklahoma, 109-106 3OT
When asked for the most memorable games in Allen Fieldhouse history, this one would definitely be top-five, and an argument could be made for the second-best ever (we all know number one). Number one vs. number two, All-American players on both sides, Final Four coaches, the game had it all and somehow did more than live up to the hype. Oklahoma had their best chance to win with 2.1 seconds left in a tie game. A Landen Lucas over-the-back foul sent Khadeem Latin to the line for a one-and-one. A made free throw essentially wins the game for Oklahoma. However, he missed and sent the game into the first overtime. Three overtimes of back-and-forth action led to the Sooners having a one-point lead and the ball with under 30 seconds left in the third OT. Devonte’ Graham was able to steal the ball away from Buddy Hield and got fouled on the other end. Graham made two free throws with nine seconds left, giving the Jayhawks the lead. A Frank Mason steal on the following possession sealed it for KU, who overcame Buddy Hield’s incredible 46 points for the win.
5. March 25, 2012 vs. No. 1 North Carolina, 80-67
Although the Ohio State game was a round further than this one, this Elite Eight game in St. Louis ranks higher on the list. Why? Well, because of Roy Williams, of course. This was the second time Williams would face his former team and he was searching for his first win against them. This game was hyped to be one of the best of the tournament, but lost a bit of it’s luster when Kendall Marshall, North Carolina’s star point-guard, injured his wrist and would not be playing in the game. Kansas fans weren’t complaining. The Jayhawks took advantage, harassing Marshall’s back-up, Stilman White, who was simply not as talented as Marshall. Bill Self’s team had a one-point lead with about 3:30 to go. Then, they put their foot on the gas. An Elijah Johnson three was followed by a Jeff Withey block, causing a Tyshawn Taylor and-one on the other end. The run continued, another Withey block led to a Travis Releford dunk. Kansas finished the game on a 12-0 run, punching their ticket for New Orleans, their second Final Four under Bill Self.
4. March 30, 2008 vs. No. 10 Davidson, 59-57
Bill Self had reached the Elite Eight four times, this being his fifth appearance, and had never won. Kansas was set to face the tournament’s Cinderella, the Davidson Wildcats. Davidson featured a skinny sharpshooter by the name of Steph Curry, who had become a household name during the tournament. Although Davidson was a ten-seed, many knew the game would not be an easy win. KU came out playing tight and Davidson took advantage, doing what they had done to get them to the Elite Eight in the first place, relying on Curry as well as Jason Richards. Eventually, Kansas fought back to take the lead. Up by two points with 16.8 seconds left, Davidson had one final shot. The whole gym knew Curry was their go-to guy but Chalmers and Rush kept him closely guarded, forcing him to pass to Richards for a 35-footer which missed. Bill Self had reached his first Final Four.
3. February 25, 2012 vs. No. 3 Missouri, 87-86
There is no question…this game is easily Bill Self’s biggest regular season victory. With Kansas’ biggest rival, the Missouri Tigers, leaving the Big XII for the SEC at the end of the season, this would be the final Border War, or at least the last one for a while. Down by 19 points early in the second half, it was not looking good for the Kansas faithful. However, led by Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor and even Connor Teahan of all people, KU fought back to tie the game at the end of regulation and eventually overcame Marcus Denmon’s 28 points to deliver the most memorable win in the history of Allen Fieldhouse.
2. April 5, 2008 vs. No. 1 North Carolina, 84-66
It was the Final Four between two Blue Blood schools. What more could you ask for? Well, Roy Williams was playing his former school for the very first time. After leaving Kansas for his alma mater five years prior, Williams would face Bill Self and KU in San Antonio for the right to play for the title. The game begun with Kansas playing the best fifteen minutes they have arguably ever played (still to this day), but without a doubt the best in the Bill Self era. A Cole Aldrich baseline-jumper with 6:45 left in the first half made the score an astounding 40-12 in favor of Kansas. Billy Packer uttered the famous words “this game is ova.” a few possessions prior and he was right. North Carolina made their run, but was never close enough. Kansas advanced to the National Championship Game against Memphis.
1. April 7, 2008 vs. No. 1 Memphis, 75-68
Was there any question? C’mon, you know the drill. Down by nine with a bit over two minutes to go. Darrell Arthur hits a deep two-pointer. Sherron’s steal. Sherron’s three. Memphis missed free-throw, another missed free-throw, another missed free-throw…63-60 with 10.8 to go. Mario’s Miracle. No more words are needed. Bill Self’s first National Championship, Kansas’ fifth National Championship and their third NCAA Championship.