“The pressure is all on the Jayhawks,” said the coach of the last Cinderella to reach the Final Four, George Mason’s Jim Larranaga. “If it is close, look out. There will be no fear factor for Davidson, and I am sure Kansas would have preferred Wisconsin. No one likes to play the role of Goliath.”
Kansas would never have looked twice at a single Davidson Wildcat, yet somehow this ragtag collection has beaten the champions of the Big East and Big Ten in successive games to reach this stage. Sunday, the Big 12 champions must beat them to reach the Final Four.
And no excuse would be good enough in defeat.
In that hallway by the Kansas locker room, someone asked Self whether a victory Sunday would produce more joy or relief.
“I would say joy,” he responded. “Yeah, I’d say joy.”
“And probably a little relief.”
–Pat Ford, ESPN.com
This is exactly the issue for Kansas: regardless of the outcome of this game, they are angling to become the most despised #1 in the Final Four. If they win, they’ll have the dubious honor of defeating the nationally-beloved Davidson and America’s roundball sweetheart, Stephen Curry. If they lose, it will be a humiliating defeat to one of just a handful of double-digit seeded teams ever to ascend to these heights. Kansas is in a no-win situation, despite being the (pretty reluctant, it seems) pick of all the commentators I’ve seen today.
What I want to see today is for Davidson’s persistence to pay off. Ideally, they’ll stay close to Kansas through the first half, wear them out with patient passing and shot selection, and then let their shooters loose in the second half.
The dramatic music has started on CBS. They’re calling it “Davidson vs. Goliath.” Here we go.