Can MU lay claim to 1922 basketball national championship?

Check out the following article from my man Bradford Doolittle over at the Upon Further Review blog at (SIAP). Anyway, Bradford researches two of kU's basketball national title claims (given ex post facto by The Helms Foundation). Bradford has found that MU could in fact stake a claim to the 1922 mythical national championship. Turns out a college professor did similar research in 1993 and put Mizzou at the top of the 1922 season. How much different would it be if we had a "national championship" on our resume? Probably not much considering it was 1922. But at least it could be something to throw back in kU's face that we -- and not them -- actually won the national title.

The text of Bradford's entire blog after the jump (it's all his words, I didn't add anything):

MU versus The Helms Foundation: Part II

In the introduction to this series as well as Part I, my primary emphasis was to better evaluate the pre AP Poll seasons for the Jayhawks – meaning everything before 1948. To be honest, at the time I started, I didn’t even factor in Missouri. Of course, most (nay, all) the reason was because I wasn’t familiar with MU’s early basketball success. I quickly realized The Helms Foundation was extremely borderline – and that’s being very kind!


Fortunately, one of our beloved readers (Mark) made me aware of another reference point to rate the teams by. The alternative is that I would have had to spend countless hours researching on my own in order to come up with a top-20 ranking for each season. Fortunately, that had already been done (Premo).



To the best of my knowledge this Premo annual top-20 list can only be found in one place – Inside Sports College Basketball 1998, Mike Douchant. This is a tremendous resource and extremely valuable for anyone with an historical perspective on college basketball. It’s over 700 pages and covers just about everything you might want to know.


I bought a new copy on line for $29, so you don’t have pay the $50 Amazon wants to charge. But, whether $29 or $50, it wouldn’t have mattered to me. It’s easily worth it.



In 1993, a St. Bonaventure professor (Patrick Premo) decided to do the same thing I was tempted to do – go back in time and figure it all out. You see, the problem with The Helms Foundation is that it appears (and despite my best efforts, I’m not 100% sure of this) that a single person – Bill Schroeder – picked the "national champion". He did this in the late 1930’s retroactively. I strongly suspect he didn’t have the information in 1939 that Premo had in 1993. Of course, I doubt Premo had the information that I have in 2009, but I’m willing to let sleeping dogs lie.


The bottom line is that Premo ranked the top 20, not just the top 1. There will be a day when I take a given season and tear it all down looking at each team and opponents and make my own top-20. I will compare it with Premo. If I like what he came up with, I might end my research at one season. But, in the meantime, I’m accepting his work as the gospel.



Kansas is, of course, given credit for the 1921-22 "national championship" – sometimes called a "mythical championship" since The Helms Foundation credited KU in 1922. They also gave KU the championship in 1923. That’s where the Jayhawk faithful come up with five championships. Otherwise, it would just be three.

Here is the top-20 by the Premo Poll for the 1921-22 season.


Rank Team Rec.
1 Missouri 16-1
2 Kansas 16-2
3 Army 17-2
4 Idaho 19-1
5 Oregon St. 21-2
6 Wabash 21-3
7 Holy Cross 14-3
8 Purdue 15-3
9 Michigan 15-4
10 CCNY 10-2
11 Butler 23-4
12 Princeton 20-5
13 Illinois 14-5
14 Wisconsin 14-5
15 Pennsylvania 24-3
16 Texas A&M 18-3
17 Navy 15-3
18 Wooster 14-1
19 Beloit 12-0
20 Texas 20-4


In Part III (tomorrow), I will be evaluating Premo’s decision versus Helms’ decision. Unfortunately, we don’t know where Helms’ ranked Missouri – only that KU was #1.


I’ll also be relaying a fascinating account by Phog Allen of the second game between the two schools that season.

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