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Kansas basketball and the answer that’s eluded Bill James

Bill Self

Kansas head coach Bill Self during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma State in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)


The Kansas Jayhawks have won at least a share of the last nine Big 12 regular season titles, with Bill Self’s program navigating roster turnover on an annual basis.

And the fact that Self has been so successful is something that has stumped Bill James, who is famous for his ability to figure out the answer to many questions (especially those involving baseball).

“I watch every Kansas basketball game,” he says. “And every year, it’s the same thing. They will be on the road, losing by three or four late in the game, this happens often. You would expect them to lose those games sometimes. But they almost never do. They almost always make a few big plays down the stretch and win the toughest games, even when they’re playing poorly.”

Bill James looks down and shakes his head, as if he’s trying once again to figure out the puzzle. “How does Bill Self do it?’” he asks. “I cannot for the life of me come up with the answer.”

Kansas takes on Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament semifinals on Friday night, and given how tight the two regular season meetings were (both went to overtime) look for another thriller in Kansas City.

Can Kansas grab a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament with a Big 12 tournament title? There are many moving parts around the country to be considered but the possibility is definitely on the table. But regardless of their seed, with players such as freshman wing Ben McLemore and senior center Jeff Withey the Jayhawks have the talent needed to win a national title.

To read more about Self and the Jayhawks, click here.

Joe Posnanski also touched on the experiences of Kansas freshman walk-on Tyler Self, the son of the head coach.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.