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Rising parity can't keep Kansas out of Top 10

Kansas head coach Bill Self lays into an official during the second half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas head coach Bill Self lays into an official during the second half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

First, St. John’s, winless in the Big East, knocks off Duke over the weekend in Madison Square Garden. Then the Johnnies beat No. 1 Villanova on the Wildcats’ home court.

And Villanova was just one of four schools ranked in the top 10 to drop a game this week. No. 3 Purdue lost at home to Ohio State. No. 8 Auburn lost at home to Texas A&M. And Duke lost at North Carolina.

Surely, this season is the greatest example ever of parity in college basketball, right?

Wrong, but it does continue the recent trend of more parity in the game. In Self’s first 12 seasons schools ranked in the top 10 averaged a combined 23.8 losses in the Week 14 poll, compared to an average of 30 the past three seasons.

The cause of increased parity?

More players leaving early, which has the effect of the most talented teams often being the least experienced. Also, talented players are less likely to wait to crack the rotation and are more likely to transfer than in earlier eras.

I looked up how many total losses the top 10 schools in the Week 14 rankings had each year during Bill Self’s tenure at Kansas.

The most interesting revelation was that KU has been ranked in the top 10 in each of the past nine seasons. During that nine-year span, Villanova was next with seven, followed by Arizona and Michigan at four apiece.

A look at total losses from teams ranked in the top 10 at the Week 14 mark during the Self era:

SeasonTop 10
Losses
Week 14
KU Week 14
Ranking
KU destination
2003-04
2221Elite Eight
2004-05232First-round loss
2005-0622NRFirst-round loss
2006-07279Elite Eight
2007-08174National champion
2008-0926
16Sweet 16
2009-1029
1Second-round loss
2010-11232Elite Eight
2011-12257National runner-up
2012-13245Sweet 16
2013-14218Second-round loss
2014-15248Second-round loss
2015-16356Elite Eight
2016-17283Elite Eight
2017-182710TBD

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