You don’t win nine straight conference titles without knowing how to get your team ready for the second act of the three part season. Bill Self has obviously perfected that particular skill. His teams always seem to come alive after the holidays and then peak in March.
Just how good are Coach Self’s teams at flipping the switch for the new year? Lets look at the past 10 regular seasons to find out.
- 2013-2014: Before break (BB) 8-3
- 2012-2013: BB: 10-1: After break (AB): 15-4
- 2011-2012: BB: 8-3 AB: 18-2
- 2010-2011: BB: 11-0 AB: 18-2
- 2009-2010: BB: 11-0 AB: 19-2
- 2008-2009: BB: 8-3 AB: 17-3
- 2007-2008: BB: 12-0 AB: 16-3
- 2006-2007: BB: 10-2 AB: 17-2
- 2005-2006: BB: 6-4 AB: 16-3
- 2004-2005: BB: 8-0 AB: 8-5
- 2003-2004: BB: 6-2 AB: 14-4
- Total win % before break: 85%
- Total win % after break: 85%
- Total win % after break if team lost < 2 games before break: 83%
- Total win % after break if team lost > or equal to 2 games before break: 85%
There are a few nuggets we can draw from this. First off, Bill Self is a model of consistency. Year-in and year-out, regardless of players and circumstances, the man is good for an 85 percent win percentage. He is going to win 17 of every 20 games he coaches. That is truly stunning.
Another thing is that his post-holiday and conference success is independent of the non-conference pre-break schedule. No matter how much his team is stuggling or succeeding before the holiday break, they emerge on the other side and win at a high level. In fact, teams that lost two or more games before the break actually had a slightly increased win percentage after the break. Given the confounding factors involved that is likely not statistically significant, but it is important to note that those teams that lose some early games end up perforning just as well if not better than their more successful early season counterparts.
It is also important to remember that having an identical 85 percent win percentage before the break and after the break actually does show great improvement. It’s harder to win after December 25th. Other teams improve and so does the quality of your opponents when you enter conference play after the first of the year. Also, you’re playing a few of those teams two and sometimes three times. Additionally, Kansas is going on the road more in conference play and it is harder to play on the road because of many factors.
For example, let’s look at a poorly coached team for comparison in order to illustrate this difference. I will go with Baylor. Their win percentage before the break last year was 73 percent. After the break they fell to 50 percent. The year before they began at 100 percent, but their win percentage after the break was 68 percent. It is harder to win after the holidays. The coaching thing matters and what Self has been able to do with his teams has been pretty remarkable.
So looking forward, what can we expect out of this young team? I think that until proven otherwise, you have to give them the benefit of the doubt that they will wind up somewhere near that 85 percent mark. With 20 games remaining in the regular season, that would project a 17-3 finish for this squad moving them to 25-6 in the regular season overall. I will set the predicted range from 16-4 to 18-2, but honestly 17-3 with losses coming at Oklahoma State, Iowa State and maybe one other mishap at home or away being the most likely culprits.