Kansas vs. Davidson Preview

Kansas vs. Davidson Preview

Kansas vs. Davidson
By Chris David

The last piece to this year’s Final Four will be settled on Sunday evening when No. 10 Davidson (29-6 straight up, 21-11 against the spread) looks to shock the college basketball world -- again -- in a battle against No. 1 Kansas.

Even though the Jayhawks have lived up to their top billing, the Midwest Regional has been all about Davidson and shooting guard Stephen Curry. The sharpshooter put on another show and led his squad to a 73-56 upset win against second-seeded Wisconsin.

The Wildcats and Badgers were all square 36-36 after the first 20 minutes before Curry took over the game. The senior poured in 22 of his 33 points in the second half and connected on 11-of-22 attempts, including six 3-pointers.

Davidson cashed tickets as a 5½-point underdog and some money-line players were fortunate to drill a plus-200 (Bet $100 to win $200) ticket as well.

The combined 129 points slipped ‘over’ the closing total of 127. The ‘over’ has gone 3-0 in all three of Davidson’s tournament games.

“It’s hard to bet against the Wildcats’ offense, which has been very consistent in the tournament. The school has been tested against solid foes in Georgetown and Wisconsin and still managed to post 70-plus points in each contest,” said VegasInsider.com handicapper Mark Fox.

“Kansas likes to play fast and that might be its downfall in this game, especially against a Davidson offense that has netted 29 3-pointers in the tournament.”

Prior to the tournament, Georgetown (36.6%) and Wisconsin (38%) were ranked first and third nationally in field goal percentage defense. Right behind that pair is Kansas (38%), who sits in the fourth position.

The Jayhawks are solid defensively, but head coach Bill Self’s squad has a very aggressive offense. Kansas led the nation this year in scoring margin at 20 points per game.

Nothing has changed in the tournament with the school dominating their first three opponents by an average of 19.3 points per game, including a 73-56 win over Villanova in the regional semifinals. The Jayhawks opened up a 41-22 lead at the break and coasted to cover as 12-point favorites. Kansas saw the ‘under’ cash for the third straight game, as the combined 129 points dipped ‘under’ the closing total of 149.

The Wildcats shot themselves out of the tournament by going 3-of-17 (17.6%) from downtown. Meanwhile, Kansas hit 8-of-19 from 3-point land and was paced by Brandon Rush’s 16 points on 50 percent shooting.

Gamblers have their work cut out for them on Sunday, especially when you look at the streaks involved. Davidson owns a 25-game winning streak, the longest in the country. Kansas is also on fire, winning 10 in a row and covering eight of those contests.

Some folks might believe Davidson is inferior to Kansas’ talent, which is probably true. Keep in mind that the school is no stranger to stepping up in class and owns an eye opening 2-4 SU and 6-0 ATS mark as an underdog this year. The two outright wins came in the tournament against Georgetown and Wisconsin.

Despite the unbeaten mark as a ‘dog, oddsmakers have tabbed Davidson as a 9½ -point underdog. Those gamblers looking to ride the puppy for the outright win can purchase a money-line ticket at Sportsbook.com for plus-425 (Bet $100 to win $425).

Kansas only has three losses on its ledger and the trio came by a combined 13 points, all setbacks coming in Big 12 play.

Double-digit seeds aren’t strangers to the Final Four, evidenced by No. 11 George Mason in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. While it’s not impossible, it’s also rare. Prior to the Patriots’ run, LSU was the first and only other team to win a regional final, completing the task in 1986.

Kansas has lost both of its last two trips to the regional finals, including a 68-55 setback to UCLA in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

Tip-off is set for 5:05 p.m. EDT from Ford Field, with CBS providing national coverage.

vegasinsider.com

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Re: Kansas vs. Davidson Preview

(10) Davidson (29-6, 22-11 ATS) vs. (1) Kansas (34-3, 21-14 ATS)

Kansas had no trouble at all with 12th-seeded Villanova on Friday, jumping out to a 41-22 halftime lead and coasting to a 72-57 victory as a 12-point favorite. The Jayhawks, who are back in the Elite Eight for the second straight year, have won 10 in a row, going 7-3 ATS (4-0 ATS in the last four).

Davidson’s magical Tournament run continued with Friday’s 73-56 rout of No. 3 seed Wisconsin as a five-point underdog. The Wildcats, who own the nation’s longest winning streak at 25 in a row, once again got a huge game from shooting guard Stephen Curry, who had 33 points, four assists, four steals and three rebounds. Curry combined for 70 points in Davidson’s first two tourney wins over Gonzaga and Georgetown.

The Jayhawks, who lost 68-55 to UCLA as a two-point favorite in last year’s Elite Eight, are searching for their 13th trip to the Final Four. They last got there in 2003 when they lost to Syracuse in the national championship game. Also, Kansas coach Bill Self has reached the Elite Eight five times with three different teams, but has yet to get to the Final Four.

Prior to last week, Davidson hadn’t won a Tournament game in 39 years. And the odds are stacked heavily against the Wildcats in this contest, as No. 10 seeds are 0-8 all time in this round of the Tournament, having never advanced to the Final Four.

All four of Kansas’ spread-covers during its 4-0 ATS run have come at neutral sites. The Jayhawks are on additional ATS streaks of 6-1 outside the Big 12, 5-1 after a spread-cover, 5-2 in the Tournament (all as a favorite), 7-2 against winning teams and 7-2 as a chalk. On the negative side, they are 2-4 ATS in their last five as a favorite of seven to 12½ points.

During its 25-game winning streak, the Wildcats are 17-8 ATS, including 3-0 ATS in the Tournament. Additionally, Davidson is on ATS tears of 43-19-1 overall, 6-0 in non-conference action, 6-0 as an underdog this year, 8-1 at neutral venues, 4-0 on Sundays, 26-9-1 against winning teams and 41-16-1 after a SU win.

Kansas has systematically dismantled each of its three Tournament opponents. The Jayhawks are averaging 77.3 ppg and holding the opposition to just 58 ppg, with Portland State, UNLV and Villanova scoring 61, 56 and 57 points, respectively. Also, Kansas is shooting a blistering 55.1 percent from the field and allowing just 34 percent, while holding a commanding plus-26 edge on the boards.

With Curry leading the way, Davidson is averaging 76.3 ppg in the tourney and giving up 67.3 ppg. However, the Wildcats have really defied the odds to get this far, as they’ve been outshot 50 percent to 45.5 percent and outrebounded 85-75. In fact, all three of Davidson’s opponents have held the edge on the boards.

The over is 5-2 in Davidson’s last seven non-conference games and 5-2-1 in its last eight on Sundays. After that, the totals trends lean to the under, with the Wildcats going 9-4-1 “under” in their last 14 as an underdog and Kansas sporting under streaks of 5-0 in the Tournament (3-0 this year), 7-2 at neutral sites, 5-2 overall and 20-8 in non-conference play.

ATS ADVANTAGE: DAVIDSON and UNDER

GAMETIMEPICKS.COM

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Elite Eight analysis & pick: Davidson vs. Kansas
Covers.com

Davidson vs. Kansas
Odds: -9, 144½

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.

Pick: Kansas

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This has to be the end of Davidson, right? They've obviously had a tremendous run, but Kansas is a beast. I don't mind laying the -9.5 either, because I think this one is going to be a blow out...

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