Davidson vs. Kansas
Odds: -9, 144 ½
Game time: 5:05 p.m. ET
OK, so it’s clear that nobody is going to shut down Stephen Curry.
Davidson’s babyfaced assassin put up 33 points against the nation’s top defense on Friday night and even Michael Flowers, who has made a living guarding Big Ten stars like Dee Brown and Eric Gordon in his four years in Madison, couldn’t do a thing to keep the unassuming superstar from getting open looks.
Aside from his smooth stroke, Curry’s best weapon is his patience. A number of times in this tournament, you’ve seen Curry use ball fakes to get defenders off their feet and dribble to an open spot on the floor. He’s happy stand in place while an overeager defender goes sailing overhead in order to get that clear look at the basket. He’ll do figure-eights around the halfcourt coming off screen after screen before he finally looks for the pass that will set him up for the shot he wants. He can use his dribble to create just enough space when it looks like he’s blanketed by his mark. Simply put, Curry is unguardable.
But that’s not to say that Kansas is Davidson’s next upset victim.
Curry is a special player and after the tournament he’s had, even Bill Self has to admit that he'll get his points on Sunday. But Self also knows that Curry is Davidson’s entire offense. That means there won’t be any surprises for the Jayhawks or any of the other 57,000 people in Reliant Stadium. Kansas might try to get more physical with Curry to take advantage of their bigger guards, they might try to clog the passing lanes like they did against Villanova, or they might just let Curry go to town and focus instead on Davidson’s supporting cast.
But whatever they do on defense, Davidson is going to get points. The Wildcats have already shown that their offense can be effective against anyone. The important thing to consider is what Kansas will be able to do on offense.
Davidson has faced three quality teams in this tournament (Gonzaga, Georgetown, Wisconsin) and allowed a respectable 67.3 points per game. But they haven’t faced a team with anywhere near the scoring punch of the Jayhawks. Only Gonzaga (76.5 points per game) could be put in the same discussion with the elite offensive teams in the country, but although the Zags had some size, they couldn’t even compete with the dynamic attack of the Jayhawks.
Kansas dominated Villanova not just with the above-the-rim play of guys like Rush and Darnell Jackson, but they also jabbed away with perimeter shooting that stretched the Nova defense and kept them off balance. Any team that scored 81 points a game in the Big 12 is a certified offensive juggernaut and it’s easy to imagine the same thing happening to Davidson as we saw happen to Villanova on Friday. Davidson doesn’t have the athletes to match up with Kansas and unless Curry puts on a performance for the ages, Kansas will probably win in a walk.