Bill Self: Great in the Regular Season, Great in the Sweet 16, But The Elite 8 Has Been a Disaster


Bill Self and Kansas had another letdown in March, getting upset by Oregon in the Elite 8 Saturday. It was the eighth time Self and Kansas have been favored in the Elite 8; he’s only won two of them. Since the 2003-2004 season, when Self arrived in Lawrence, he’s lost to lower-seeded teams 10 times.

In that time span, only Coach K has as many defeats to lower-seeded teams.

Hey, I get it – it’s difficult to consistently win in the NCAA Tournament. After a rigorous regular season – Kansas has won the Big 12 for the last 13 straight seasons – and the conference tournament, you’re then expected to peel off four wins and get to the Final Four.

So let’s briefly lower the bar. Here are some coaching records in the Sweet 16:

Coach K: 14-9
Roy Williams: 13-5
Rick Pitino: 12-1
John Calipari: 11-2
Tom Izzo: 9-4
Bill Self: 9-3
Jim Boeheim 6-11
Sean Miller 3-4
Mark Few 2-5
Steve Alford 0-3

This doesn’t take opponent into account, or who was favored, but either way, Bill Self is bank in the Sweet 16. He’s not quite Rick Pitino or John Calipari, but he’s very good.


Bill Self: 2-5
Sean Miller: 0-4
Tom Izzo: 7-2

This is where Self loses everyone. What are his issues in the Elite 8? Why can’t he clear this hurdle with any consistency? One answer: It’s hard to get to the Final Four.

Obviously a laundry list of variables matter here, from recruits to future NBA players, to seeding in the tournament, to who you lost to, who you beat, and on down the list.

Via this chart, here are how coaches have fared in the NCAA Tournament:

Coach K: 33 NCAA trips, 12 Final Fours
Roy Williams: 27 NCAA trips, 9 Final Fours
Rick Pitino: 21 NCAA trips, 7 Final Fours
John Calipari: 18 NCAA trips, 6 Final Fours
Tom Izzo: 20 NCAA trips, 7 Final Fours

Among the elite coaches, that’s roughly a Final Four every 3rd NCAA trip.

Jim Boeheim is a cut below those guys: 32 NCAA trips, five Final Fours.
Jay Wright is trending into the elite group: 14 NCAA trips, two Final Fours

And then there’s Bill Self: 19 NCAA trips, 2 Final Fours. (and in 11 of those seasons, he was a #1 or #2 seed in the tournament).