Some members of the college men’s basketball community aren’t giving up on recognizing a champion.
Several days after the Florida Senate recognized Florida State University as the national champions, Kansas head coach Bill Self spoke about the possibility of his team being awarded the championship after a season that was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s unprecedented territory in a sport that has used the NCAA Tournament to decide the champion since 1939. If they were to hand out a trophy for the 2019-20 season, the Jayhawks would be the likely choice, as they finished the season ranked atop the Associated Press poll and USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
“From our standpoint, that would be great,” Self said during a Monday teleconference, according to ESPN’s Myron Medcalf. “But even if that occurred, and I don’t think it would, there’d be a huge asterisk on our side and I’d be the first one to admit it. This would be the year I’d be all in favor because there’s a great chance we’d be No. 1 in the country in most everything when all the rankings are turned in.”
247Sports writer Evan Daniels took it a step further, asking 115 college coaches who they think would have won the NCAA Tournament if it hadn’t been canceled. Kansas was the clear winner with 49 votes.
“I’ve been doing this a while and I don’t know if anyone can positively say they had the best team — but I do think there’s no question that nobody was playing better than us,” Self told 247Sports. “I also believe that I don’t know if anyone was more built for March than us. The reason I say that is, obviously our team was tough and obviously our team knew how to deal with pressures and our team obviously knew how to deal with distractions.”
"The University also strongly disagrees with the assertion that it failed to monitor the men's basketball program," Kansas’ response said of the allegations, which are based in part on former Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola testifying that he recruited players to Kansas by funneling money to players’ families or guardians. "The enforcement staff's allegations and conclusions regarding the University's compliance program are misguided."
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The Jayhawks played through it, compiling a 28-3 record, including going 17-1 to win the Big 12 Conference.
“For this team to bring so much positive attention in a year where we definitely needed it and operate under pressure and operate under expectations, this team deserves more credit than any team I’ve ever coached,” Self said, noting that he is trying to find a way to memorialize the team. “Nobody had a better season than we did.”
Fifteen teams received first-place votes in the 247Sports poll. Gonzaga picked up 17 votes to finish second, followed by Dayton (14), Florida State (9), Michigan State (7), Baylor (6) and Duke (3).
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