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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Bill Self still feels a series with Wichita State isn’t in Kansas’ best interest

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Bill Self (USATSI)

It's not enough for Bill Self that Wichita State won 30 games last season, advanced to the Final Four and is off to an 11-0 start again this year.

The Kansas coach still doesn't feel he has incentive to deviate from his longstanding policy of not playing a home-and-home series with the Shockers.

Self made that clear Tuesday, telling the Kansas City Star he doesn't believe a series with Wichita State is in the best interest of the Kansas program. The Jayhawks coach noted he has been on the other side of the equation as head coach at Tulsa when he was unable to get a series with Oklahoma or Oklahoma State.

"This isn’t knocking Wichita State,” Self told the Star. "But if it was best for our program, I would reach out to them about scheduling them. But it’s not. I’ve heard a lot of talk about them wanting to play us so bad; Gregg Marshall’s never contacted me about playing."

Those comments came from Self came in response to Marshall publicly grandstanding for a series with Kansas earlier in the week. He told Fox Sports Kansas City he'd love to play Kansas but he's not interested in going to Allen Fieldhouse without a return game at Koch Arena the following season.

It's asinine to make the case Self is scared of Wichita State since Kansas plays a schedule loaded with powerhouse programs every season. Self would also certainly be correct if he argued the Shockers need the game more than Kansas does since the Jayhawks have the pedigree to land a home-and-home series with almost any program in the nation should they request it.

Where it's reasonable to differ with Self, however, is the idea that Kansas benefits less from playing Wichita State than some of the other formidable programs on its non-league schedule.

As recently as a year or two ago, Self was right that it was all-risk, no-reward for Kansas to schedule Wichita State. A win would have been the expected outcome and a loss would have sparked complaints among Jayhawks fans and given the Shockers a chance to pound their chests and further ammunition on the recruiting trail.

With Wichita State eight months removed from a Final Four, ranked in the top 15 in the nation and poised to be good for a while, however, it seems as though the Shockers are no longer an unknown commodity regionally or nationally.

There would be no shame in a loss for the loser and plenty of accolades and attention for the winner. In fact, there's a good chance a Kansas-Wichita State game would draw more national attention than any non-league game the Jayhawks will play this season with the exception of matchups against Duke and perhaps Florida.

Ultimately, however, Self has every right to continue to refuse to play Wichita State – or at least to wait another couple years to see if the Shockers maintain this level.

If Wichita State remains a fixture in the top 25 the way Gonzaga has, however, it would be great to see Self change his stance and agree to a series. It would be good for Wichita State, it would be good for college basketball and by that point it might even be good for Kansas too.

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