Kansas Jayhawks

The story of Kansas’s 2010 Big 12 basketball triumph

The 2010 Phillips 66 Championship tournament was held on home territory at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. And the final saw the state’s two big names go head to head in a thrilling encounter to decide the year’s champion, two years after Kansas’s previous triumph in the tournament.

In this article, as we mark the tenth anniversary of the match, we will re-live that campaign, from the seedings and preliminary rounds, through to the quarter-finals and elimination stages, all held over four days at the beginning of March 2010.

Format and seedings

12 teams lined up to contest the tournament, with each team entering into the tournament on the back of varying degrees of success during the Conference campaign. Eight teams contested the first-round stage to produce four teams that would join the four top seeds in the quarter-finals. The same tried and tested format remains in place today.

This is where the seedings come into play, as they dictate which teams receive a bye through to the last eight and preserve valuable game energy. The seedings were based on the team’s Conference and overall campaigns from the months preceding the tournament.

With a 15-1 Conference record and overall 33-3 showing, Kansas was seeded first ahead of the tournament, in front of local rivals and the team they’d ultimately face in the final, Kansas State, who were 11-5 and 29-8.

Baylor and Texas A&M made up the remainder of the top four, tied with Kansas State on an 11-5 Conference record, but with slightly poorer overall performances. These would be the four teams to receive byes to the last eight of the tournament.

First-round and last eight

The eight first-round fixtures were held on Wednesday 10 March and served to whittle down the field from 12 to 8. 9th seed Texas Tech upset the odds to knock Colorado out of the reckoning, while there was a major upset in game two as 12th ranked Nebraska beat 5th seed Nebraska.

The first round’s other two ties went to form, however, with 6th seed Texas edging past Iowa State and 7th seed Oklahoma State easing through against local rivals Oklahoma, who were ranked 10th. The four victorious teams advanced to join the brackets’ big hitters in the quarter-finals.

First up for top-ranked Kansas were Texas Tech and the result was a routine victory for Kansas. Texas A&M fared better at the same stage, nicking past Nebraska, who were unable to repeat their heroics from the first round.

3rd seed Baylor were emphatic winners against Texas in the quarter-finals, while Kansas State also had plenty of points to spare in victory over Oklahoma State to book their place in the last four of the tournament. The semi-finals went exactly to form, with the top four seeds through to face off.

Semi-finals and final

Two games stood between Kansas and Big 12 glory, starting with a showdown against Texas A&M in the semi-finals. The favorites didn’t have it all their own way against A&M, but they showed enough guile at critical points to eke out a 79-66 win and go a step closer to achieving their goal.

Kansas would face the winner of Baylor and Kansas State and the second semi-final would prove to be a similarly close-run encounter, with KS eventually running out 82-75 winners against the number three seed.

The stage was set for a mouth-watering battle between two old local rivals, with the game beamed to millions nationwide on ESPN. The two rivals have a long history and regularly play head-to-head at the very top of competition across practically every college sport. Such is the global influence of college sports, platforms like bet365 offer multiple betting markets throughout the season, including games contested by Kansas and Kansas State. 

The final on this occasion was a very tightly contested affair, with Kansas ultimately running out 72-64 winners. Kansas’s Sherron Collins was named the tournament MVP, while the top scorer was Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen, who weighed in with 58 points. The victory marked Kansas’s seventh title and coach Bill Self’s fourth.

The success over their bitter rivals at the final stage of the competition is still fondly reflected upon today.

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