Ask Sports

Ask sports: How was Michigan undefeated against Kansas?

Prior to Saturday's game, Michigan was undefeated in basketball against Kansas. How was that possible?

Despite the turmoil of the last decade, Michigan's basketball pedigree is still solid, which is why it was 5-0 against the Jayhawks prior to Saturday.

The school has played in five NCAA Championship games, winning in a memorable overtime final against Seton Hall in 1989 for its lone title.

The NCAA stripped the Wolverines of most of their accomplishments since then, including consecutive Final Four trips with the Fab Five in the early 1990s.

That group of players, led by Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard, was the last to meet Kansas on the court.

In the final of the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, then-No. 6 Michigan defeated No. 2 KU 86-74 in Dec. 1992.

Webber finished with 27 points and eight rebounds.

In Jan. 1985 a No. 15-ranked KU squad went to Ann Arbor and lost to No. 18 Michigan 96-77.

KU lost twice in the Ted Owens era, in 1980 and 1982.

The teams' first meeting came in Dec. 1949, when Michigan defeated the Jayhawks in Kansas City, Mo. KU was in the middle of a 14-11 season under coach Phog Allen.

With the win, there are now only two schools who have an undefeated record against the Jayhawks after multiple encounters.

One is UTEP (formerly Texas-Western), which is 3-0, with two meetings coming in the Miners' glory days of 1966.

Their most recent meeting with the Jayhawks came when UTEP upset KU in the second round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament.

KU, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, lost to No. 9-seed UTEP 66-60 in Dayton, Ohio.

Another team with a KU upset on its resume is the other school still undefeated against the Jayhawks.

Bradley has beaten KU twice.

In 1950, Bradley was the top-ranked team in the country when it defeated KU 59-57 in Kansas City, Mo. in pre-NCAA Tournament district play.

In 2006, Bradley handed KU its second straight first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament when it beat the No. 4-seeded Jayhawks 77-73 as the No. 13 seed in Auburn Hills, Mich.

So Missouri might go to the Big Ten. If that happens, what will happen to the Big 12, and how did we get to this point with all the conference switching anyway?

Universities join and leave conferences for a variety of reasons, but the main ones are competition upgrades and monetary value.

In the early days of collegiate sports, most affiliations were based on geography and like-minded academic pursuits.

The beginning of the major realignments came in 1979, when the Big East was founded to create a powerful basketball conference based in the major East Coast TV markets.

That evolved into a football conference a decade later, sparking the next major shift as traditional independents like Miami (Big East), Penn State (Big Ten) and Florida State (ACC) joined major conferences.

But the big domino came in 1991 as the Southeastern Conference expanded to 12 members adding South Carolina and Arkansas. That allowed the SEC to create the first conference championship game, and gain the money that came with it.

It also left the Southwest Conference down one of its founding members.

After a round of TV football deals put the SWC in an unfavorable position monetarily, its premier members Texas and Texas A&M looked to bolt.

Eventually the Big Eight — also on the outside looking in regarding a rich TV contract — offered invitations to four teams: Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor.

Then-Kansas State president Jon Wefald explained in 1994 why the Big Eight chose Tech and Baylor rather than big-market SWC schools Houston, Southern Methodist, Rice and Texas Christian.

Texas legislators were insistent of the two schools' inclusion.

"If they were not part of the equation, then we would have seen fireworks," he said. "Texas Tech and Baylor bring a lot to the table."

It didn't hurt that the governor and lieutenant governor of Texas at the time were Baylor graduates.

Seeing the money the Big 12 and SEC were getting for their championship games prompted the ACC to invite three Big East schools to join the conference in 2004 and 2005.

That prompted the Big East to invite numerous Conference-USA members to replace its departed members.

Four years later, it appears the Big Ten is interested in a 12th member so it may qualify for a championship game.

Where might the Big 12 turn if Mizzou leaves?

There are numerous candidates, including Arkansas, Boise State, Utah and possibly TCU, which in 1994 was believed to be one of the SWC's have-nots.

Now that football team is undefeated and playing in the Fiesta Bowl next month.

_Joshua Wood

  Comments