A basketball tournament that opened with 68 teams vying for a chance to win in all has come down to four final contenders. Over the weekend, Villanova, Kansas, Michigan, and Loyola-Chicago all captured their respective regions to advance to next weekend’s Final Four in San Antonio, Texas. With Big 12 champion Kansas reaching the final weekend, the Big 12 is the only conference this year to place a team in both the College Football Playoff and the Final Four of the men’s basketball tournament.
The Oklahoma Sooners won the Big 12’s football championship last fall and were sent to Pasadena, California to play SEC champion Georgia in the Rose Bowl semifinal of the College Football Playoff. The Oklahoma men’s basketball team also was selected to play in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, although they did not stick around for very long. The Sooners were bounced in the first round by Rhode Island. This marks the second time the Big 12 has had a final four team in both sports. The last time it happened was 2016 when Oklahoma played in their first College Football Playoff and the Sooners reached the basketball Final Four. Oklahoma is still the only school to reach the Final Four in both sports in the same season in the young College Football Playoff era.
This year marks the first season in which the ACC was not represented in each sport’s final four since the introduction of the College Football Playoff, thanks to Kansas knocking out Duke in a regional final on Sunday. The ACC was represented by Florida State and Duke in the College Football Playoff and Final Four, respectively, in the 2014-2015 season. Clemson football has appeared in the past three College Football Playoff brackets while the Final Four was represented by the ACC thanks to North Carolina and Syracuse in 2016, and UNC again in 2017 (The Tar Heels won it all last season).
The SEC has had a final four team in both sports twice in the CFB Playoff era. Alabama has been in every College Football Playoff to date and in 2015 (Kentucky) and 2017 (South Carolina), the SEC had a basketball team win a region to get to the Final Four.
The Big Ten has had a team in the final four of both sports in the same season just once. Ohio State played in the inaugural College Football Playoff in 2014-2015, and the basketball Final Four included both Wisconsin and Michigan State to represent the Big Ten a few months later. This year’s Michigan team is the first Final Four team out of the Big Ten since then. This is also the first year the Big Ten was not included in the College Football Playoff.
The Pac-12 has also had a team in the final four in both sports just once, and it occurred last year. Washington was selected to play in the College Football Playoff and Oregon reached the Final Four. This year the Pac-12 was left out of the College Football Playoff and the conference went 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament.
A non-power conference has never been represented in the College Football Playoff (although that hasn’t stopped UCF from claiming a national championship), but a mid-major in the Final Four has happened each of the past two seasons (which of course does not include the Big East, since the Big East is considered a major conference in basketball).
The ACC is the only conference to get a team to reach the championship game in both sports in the same season. Clemson’s back-to-=back College Football Playoff national championship appearances against Alabama in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 was accompanied by North Carolina’s back-to-back national championship game appearances in the same seasons (against Villanova and Gonzaga, respectively). Of course, that means the ACC is the only conference to win it all in the same season in the brief College Football Playoff era with Clemson and UNC winning it all in 2016-2017.
Helmet sticker to Diehards.