With a win over Oklahoma on Monday, Kansas will extend one of the more remarkable streaks in college basketball and clinch at least a share of its 10th straight Big 12 regular season championship.
With four games still to play for each team in the conference, the Jayhawks own a three game advantage over the trio of Big 12 squads tied for second place. Basically, it's a matter of when this is going to happen, not if.
To put things in perspective, the last time KU's name didn't end up on the Big 12 championship trophy, Louisville and Cincinnati were members of Conference USA, LeBron James was in the middle of his rookie season in the NBA and SB Nation did not exist.
Just two programs have dominated their conference in this fashion before: UCLA, which won the Pac-12 for 13 straight seasons (1967-79), and Gonzaga, which saw its 11-year run atop the West Coast Conference end in 2011. John Wooden was only in Westwood for the first nine of those Bruin championships, which means Bill Self is about to become the first coach from a major conference to win its regular season title for an entire decade.
Even Kim English, the former Missouri star guard who was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 2012, took a second on Sunday to put the KU/Mizzou rivalry aside and marvel at Self's magic.
Nothing in college basketball is more impressive than Bill Self winning 10 Big 12 titles in a row.— Kim English (@Englishscope24) February 23, 2014
Self's 2013-14 champions-to-be are a solid reflection of the remarkable dynasty he's been able to orchestrate. The team had to replace all five starters from last season's Big 12 regular season and tournament champions, and its leading returning scorer was Perry Ellis at a mere 5.8 points per game. Now that group is on the verge of clinching a conference title on Feb. 24.
Reloading has become a staple of the Self era in Lawrence, which has seen 17 Jayhawks selected in the NBA Draft since 2005, 11 of whom left school at least one year early. Darrell Arthur has become Marcus Morris who's become Thomas Robinson who's become Andrew Wiggins, and so on and so on.
Despite the influx of next-level talent, Kansas has continued to win by doing things the Self way, which, ironically, requires each future professional to put team before self. Just once in the past decade (Wayne Simien in 2004-05) has a Jayhawk player averaged more than 20.0 points per game. It's a recipe that has resulted in a pair of Final Four appearances, a national championship, five No. 1 seeds in the last seven years, and an NCAA Tournament seeding of four or better for the past decade.
In addition to giving up their dreams of leading the nation in scoring, Self demands that his stars dedicate themselves on the defensive end. In nine of Self's 10 seasons at Kansas, the Jayhawks have finished in the nation's top 10 in field goal percentage. The one season they failed achieve that feat, they finished 13th.
Like the only other coach to win nine straight major conference championships (Wooden), Self stresses practice, preparation and trust over in-game coaching or theatrics. He doesn't scream and stomp when his team has the ball, and he often doesn't feel the need to stop play and bust out the dry erase board at a key moment. He trusts his players in the same way that they trust him.
"We have to convince our players that if we play the way we're supposed to play, we're going to be really good," Self said last March. "We have to convince our players that this is what we do."
What they do is win championships, and one more is on the way.