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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!

University of Kansas basketball fans (me included, of course) are excited that this year's team has made the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. For KU, this is a familiar spot. Per Wikipedia, Kansas has previously participated in the Final Four in these years: 1940, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1971, 1974, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, 2002, 2003, 2008, and 2012. I started watching Kansas basketball around 1970, which means they've made the Final Four about once every five years during my lifetime as a fan. None of those appearances occured during my four years at Kansas, 1979-1983.

Kansas won the NCAA tournament in 1952, 1988, and 2008, but the school also claims two "mythical" championships from the era prior to the NCAA tournament: 1922 and 1923 (the "Helms championship"). Since the Jayhawk is a mythical bird, rest assured that many other schools count mythical championships awarded by the Helms Athletic Foundation, including Purdue and Stanford.

Meanwhile, University of Kansas students also have a strong history participating in the intercollegiate National Debate Tournament (NDT). Indeed, late Monday March26, the team of seniors Quaram Robinson and Will Katz won the 2018 national championship. This was the sixth time a team from Kansas had achieved this feat, having previously won the NDT in 1954, 1970, 1976, 1983, and 2009. Yes, I was on campus for the 1983 title.

Here's a picture of the latest winners:



Congratulations to these students!! I attended the 2017 NDT in Kansas City last year and met both of them during a reunion hosted by KU. Their accomplishment is truly impressive and undoubtedly reflects a tremendous amount of hard work. Congrats also to coach Scott Harris!

Incidentally, this was the 16th time a Kansas team had been in the Final Four of the NDT: 1948, 1954, 1959, 1970 (2 teams*), 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1994, 1999, 2009, 2016, and 2018. The NDT allowed 2 teams per school for many years. It now allows three.

So, it appears 1971 was the only other year Kansas had teams in the Final Four of both basketball and debate. It's a rarity that should be celebrated. More on 1971 below.

Even more rare would be a double victory. The NDT has been won 15 times by Northwestern, 7 times by Harvard, and 6 times by Dartmouth. Neither Northwestern nor Harvard has ever appeared in the NCAA Final Four. Dartmouth did twice, in 1942 and 1944, but lost in the championship game both times. Those appearances occurred before the NDT existed.

Thus, my quick perusal of the list of past winners of these tournaments yields these findings:

In 1962, Ohio State won the NDT, but lost the NCAA tournament championship game.
In 1989, Michigan won the NCAA tournament, but finished 2nd at the NDT.
In 2000, Michigan State won the NCAA tournament, but finished 2nd at the NDT.

Based on my quick perusal, it appears UCLA in 1971 is the only school to win both tournaments in the same year.

Kansas has an opportunity to duplicate that feat this weekend. Rock Chalk!



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