Kansas Basketball: Where Michigan Collapse Ranks Among All-Time Toughest Losses
The Jayhawks confusing overtime defeat to Michigan in Friday's Sweet 16 game spurred talks of recent demoralizing defeats to the likes of VCU, Northern Iowa and others.
These tough losses have ended All-American careers, diminished coaching legacies and halted potential NCAA tournament runs. Some have come at the hands on unknown double-digit seeds, while others have come to No. 1 seed, eventual national champions.
Historic programs cringe at any loss, favored or unfavored, Final Four or opening round.
As Naadir Tharpe's desperation heave at the buzzer clunked off the backboard, memories of Ali Farokhmanesh, Shaka Smart, Juan Dixon and Cuttino Mobley run once again as we look at the toughest losses in Kansas history.
Honorable Mention: Bucknell (2005) and Bradley (2006)
Losses to No. 14 Bucknell in 2005 and No. 13 Bradley a year later remain amongst the most unexpected and confusing losses in recent memory.
Chemistry issues plagued the Jayhawks in both defeats as many began to question the hire of Bill Self in 2003 following the departure of Roy Williams.
The 14-seeded Bucknell Bison remain the highest seed to ever eliminate Kansas from the NCAA tournament.
10. Texas Western (1966)
Kansas, led by 6'11" center Walt Wesley and scoring machine Jo Jo White, appeared headed for a tantalizing title game matchup with KU alum Adolph Rupp and his Kentucky squad.
Don Haskin's Texas Western (now UTEP) team prevented the highly anticipated matchup.
White nailed the potential game-winner in the closing seconds, giving KU an 82-81 lead, but officials ruled White had stepped out of bounds prior to the shot.
The questionable call, which still remains widely debated, resulted in a devastating loss and allowed the Cinderella run of Texas Western to continue.
9. UTEP (1992)
Legendary coach Don Haskins shocked Kansas once again as his ninth-seeded UTEP team ousted No. 1 seed Kansas in the 1992 NCAA tournament's second round.
As KU sought a repeat Final Four appearance, they surrendered an eight-point second-half lead as UTEP guards Ralph Davis and Gym Bice led the stunning upset victory.
8. North Carolina (1957)
With the game's most dominating player in Wilt Chamberlain, Kansas was picked by many to end North Carolina's undefeated season and capture their second title since 1952.
As the game entered the first of three overtimes, both teams stalled dramatically without the presence of a shot clock as only 15 total points were scored in the three extra sessions.
Kansas suffered an agonizing one-point defeat, 54-53, before a hometown crowd at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City.
7. Rhode Island (1998)
Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz returned to Kansas for All-American 1997-98 seasons and hopeful tourney runs, but the eighth-seeded Rhode Island Rams had other plans.
Cuttino Mobley and Tyson Wheeler combined for 47 points as KU yielded a 50 percent shooting night while also being out-rebounded and essentially outcoached.
This second-round, shocking upset was on the heels of their 1997 Sweet 16 upset loss to Arizona.
6. Michigan (2013)
A game that appeared to be dominated by No. 1 seed Kansas suddenly produced a two-point deficit with a senior guard passing up an open runner in favor of a desperation three-point heave.
The competition may have been superb in the Michigan Wolverines, but the senior-laden Jayhawks managed to blow a double-digit lead in the closing minutes, resulting in one of the most perplexing tourney losses in school history.
The 87-85 overtime defeat effectively ended the careers of four senior starters and likely the most talented freshman in school history.
It will be a long seven months for the Kansas faithful.
5. Maryland (2002)
Many expected Roy Williams to nab his first national title in 2002 with a loaded roster.
Freshmen Wayne Simien, Keith Langford and Aaron Miles complemented the upperclassmen trio of Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich and Drew Gooden during their Final Four run.
Unfortunately for the red-hot Jayhawks, Maryland unleashed an offensive onslaught in building an 83-63 lead with six minutes to play.
A furious comeback cut the Terrapins lead to four with a minute remaining, but it ultimately proved to be false hope, adding salt to a deprived Kansas wound with a 97-88 loss. A potentially advantageous title game matchup with Indiana would have awaited the Jayhawks.
4. Arizona (1997)
Kansas entered their 1997 Sweet 16 matchup with eventual national champion Arizona carrying a 34-1 record, No. 1 seed and a talented roster built around Paul Pierce, Jacque Vaughn, Scot Pollard and Raef LaFrentz.
The Jayhawks' 20 turnovers and poor defense nullified 10 made three-pointers, 20 offensive boards and 10 blocked shots, as the 10.5-point underdog Wildcats rode Jason Terry and Mike Bibby to an 85-82 win.
They remain arguably the best KU team to not win a title.
3. Northern Iowa (2010)
A team loaded with future NBA players in Marcus and Markieff Morris, Cole Aldrich, Tyshawn Taylor and Xavier Henry, along with Sherron Collins, ultimately played second fiddle to Ali Farokhmanesh.
The Northern Iowa guard nailed the now-infamous three-pointer with 35 seconds left, giving the Panthers a four-point cushion on their way to a 69-67 victory.
No one saw it coming.
2. VCU (2011)
A double-digit favorite, the Jayhawks saw Shaka Smart's Rams hit 12 three-pointers and force eight Markieff Morris turnovers in extending their Cinderella run.
Kansas, a No. 1 seed entering the game with a dominating 35-2 record, shot just 2-of-21 from beyond the arc, hit only 15-of-28 free throws and failed to capitalize on 18 offensive rebounds.
What made it worse?
The Jayhawks had a favorable route of Butler and UConn in search of their second title in four years.
1. Syracuse (2003)
A Carmelo Anthony-led Syracuse team hung on for a three-point victory, 81-78, over Kansas in the 2003 national championship.
The No. 2 seed Jayhawks' loss is widely remembered for Hakim Warrick's block of Michael Lee's last-second three-pointer. However, many forget KU shot a historically pitiful 12-of-30 from the free-throw line, blowing numerous opportunities to pull away from Syracuse.
It would be Roy Williams' last game as head coach and arguably their best chance at Kansas' first title in 15 long years.