Conference Tournaments are the appetizer to the main event that is March Madness.
In a way, you can look at Conference Tournaments as a chance for every team in America to reach the NCAA Basketball Tournament, since automatic bids are granted to the winner.
This year, Kansas has no worries about getting a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks are the one seed in the Big 12 Tournament after splitting the regular-season title with Baylor.
Come Selection Sunday, the Jayhawks will be in. Kansas State will need to spring a few upsets to get in. The Wildcats are seeded eighth in the Big 12 Tournament.
The Tournament started Wednesday with the 8/9 match-up at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City. It’s only a nine-team event as Iowa State was banned from the post-season by the NCAA.
The finals are Saturday at 7 pm on ESPN.
Kansas has won 11 Big 12 Tournament titles and four Big 8 Tournament titles.
Here are the six greatest Big 12 and Big 8 Conference Tournament moments in Kansas Jayhawks basketball history.
No. 1 2007: Kansas Jayhawks 88, Texas 84 OT
The 2007 Big 12 Tournament final remains the greatest comeback in Kansas basketball history.
Texas had Kevin Durant. It had a 32-10 lead with 8:10 left in the first half. Kansas had the will.
Darnell Jackson had a huge block or two of Texas star DJ Augustin down the stretch. Julian Wright had 19 points and eight rebounds.
Brandon Rush finished with 18. The game went to overtime tied at 79 and Durant didn’t score in the extra frame as Kansas made free throws to clinch it.
Durant finished with 37 and was the Tournament MVP but was not the champ.
No. 2 1986: Kansas Jayhawks 73, Iowa State 71
All right now, remember, the Big 12 is the messy union of the Big 8 and the Southwest Conference. Back in 1986, it was just the Big 8, and pretty soon it may be that way again with Texas jumping ship to the SEC (good riddance).
This was the Big 8 Tournament final in Kemper Arena. This is also the famous ‘double whistle’ game that they still remember in Ames.
After some free throws by Danny Manning made it 73-71, Iowa State legend Jeff Hornacek stole the ball and advanced downcourt. He passed to Sam Hill who put up a jumper at the buzzer.
Whistles (plural) blew. One ref called a foul on Kansas, which would have sent Hill to the line with a chance to send the game to overtime.
Another said Hill had walked. The ref who called the walk won out. The game ended with a Kansas win. The Jayhawks would reach the Final Four and lose to Duke.
No. 3 2006: Kansas Jayhawks 80, Texas 68
Texas had thrashed the Jayhawks 80-55 in the regular season. Payback came at American Airlines Arena in the Big 12 Tournament final.
The Longhorns had a small lead with 10:15 left and then the Jayhawks surged. Julian Wright had a monster steal and slam to put Kansas up four.
And then he threw down a serious 360-degree jam to seal it with 36 seconds left. Kansas made 12 threes.
Mario Chalmers was named Big 12 Tournament MVP.
No. 4 1984: Kansas Jayhawks 79, Oklahoma 78
This is another Big 8 Conference final that is legendary. The Sooners had superstar Wayman Tisdale. This was an unranked Kansas team that was coached by Larry Brown.
Ron Kellogg sank a baseline jumper with 44 seconds left and the Sooners called timeout. With the entire state of Kansas guarding Tisdale, Darryl Kennedy missed a shot from the top of the key and Kansas scored one of its biggest upsets.
Carl Henry finished with 40 points for the Jayhawks. Tisdale was Tournament MVP.
No. 5 1999: Kansas Jayhawks 53, Oklahoma State 37
It’s not often that Kansas is ever a Cinderella in the Big 12 Tournament, but this time it was. The Jayhawks finished third in the Big 12 regular season standings and the Tournament was full of upsets.
Oklahoma State was the five seed, it upset champ Texas in the semifinals. Kansas took out seventh-seeded Kansas State in the semis.
Kansas had edged the Cowboys 67-66 in their single regular-season meeting. The Tournament final was ugly Kansas led 28-21 at halftime and the Cowboys only scored 10 points in the first 18 minutes of the second half.
Kansas freshman Jeff Boschee (now head coach at Missouri Southern) was Tournament MVP.
No. 6 1997: Kansas Jayhawks 87, Missouri 60
It was the first Big 12 basketball tournament and it featured one of the greatest rivalries in all of college basketball. Kansas was coached by Roy Williams and had just one loss in the regular season, a double-overtime thriller to Missouri.
In the Big 12 Tournament final, Paul Pierce scored 30 points, including three threes and 11 rebounds as the Jayhawks pounded their rival, but good. Jacque Vaughn had 13 points and 12 assists as Kansas led by 25 at halftime.
Pierce was named Tournament MVP. Kansas would fall to Arizona in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
Photo Credit: Orlin Wagner / AP News