Archive for Wednesday, March 10, 1999

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March 10, 1999

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3-10-99Chuck Woodling column

Talk about coincidences. It's certainly rare to have the Kansas men's and women's basketball teams headed into the NCAA tournaments with identical records (22-9).

Moreover, both Roy Williams' men and Marian Washington's women compiled 11-5 records during the Big 12 regular season and were seeded third in the conference's postseason tournaments.

Not only that, but each team had the distinction of winning its only meeting with the conference regular-season champion. The men toppled Texas, 76-67, and the women spilled Texas Tech, 55-45.

Heck, even their shooting percentages are virtually identical -- 44.2 percent from the field for the men and 44.5 percent for the women; 65.0 percent from the foul line for the men and 64.8 percent for the women.

So how, you may be wondering, did the Kansas men earn a No. 6 seed from the NCAA selection committee while the women had to settle for a No. 9?

You might argue that comparing the NCAA men's and women's brackets is like comparing brickbats and wombats, that they are mutually exclusive. True, but the same criteria -- the famed RPI rankings, for example -- are involved.

By the way, I'm digressing here, but have you noticed that an anagram for the RPI acronym is RIP? So if you're RIP in the RPI, you're NIT. Or WNIT, which is not a radio station in Nebraska but the female equivalent of the NIT.

Anyway, I'm sure you read Washington's scathing comments about the No. 9 seed. A frequent critic of the NCAA selection process, Washington was steaming after Sunday's announcement of the women's bracket.

"I was hoping for at least a four seed," Washington said.

Meanwhile, Williams remarked: "I like our seeding. We played ourselves into that No. 6 seed."

Now the question is: If the men played themselves into a six seed, why weren't the women, with virtually the same record, also a No. 6?

As far as I can tell, the only difference between the Kansas men and the Kansas women in 1998-99 was the quality of competition.

Williams' men, for example, played 10 games against teams selected for the NCAA Tournament and won seven of them.

In the same vein, Washington's women played eight games against NCAA Tournament-bound teams and won just three.

So the KU men were 7-3 against NCAA teams while the women were 3-5. That's a noteworthy disparity -- one that would definitely show up in the RPI.

Let's take it another step and compare how the KU men and women fared against NIT- and WNIT-bound teams.

The men were 10-2 with the only two losses to Nebraska. Kansas was 3-0 against Kansas State, 2-0 against Colorado and the Jayhawks won once against Nebraska, Nevada-Las Vegas, Pepperdine, Southern Cal and DePaul.

At the same time, the women were 7-3 against WNIT teams. KU was 1-1 against Colorado and Kansas State and also lost to Arkansas State. The other five victories were over Creighton, Washington, Tennessee-Martin, Oklahoma and Baylor.

Let's call the Jayhawks' performances against NIT and WNIT teams a wash.

Now let's check another category -- losses to bad teams.

Not once did the KU women lose to a school with a sub-.500 record. In fact, only one team unable to secure a postseason bid defeated Washington's Jayhawks. That was Hawaii and the Wahine finished with a respectable 17-10 record.

Not so the KU men. They suffered four embarrasing defeats to .500 or worse teams -- Saint Louis (15-16), Massachusetts (14-16), Texas Tech (13-17) and Iowa State (15-15).

What does all this evidence mean?

Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but it sure looks to me -- at least in comparing the Kansas men and women -- that quality victories count for a bunch.

-- Chuck Woodling's phone message number is 832-7147. His e-mail address is cwoodling@ljworld.com.

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