Sweet 16 reactions
Davidson rides defense; Kansas runs wild and more
Posted: Saturday March 29, 2008 2:06AM; Updated: Saturday March 29, 2008 2:06AM
SI.com caught up with Seth Davis, who's serving as a CBS studio analyst during the tournament, to get his impressions of Friday's Sweet 16 action.
SI.com: So what'd you think about Davidson winning?
Seth Davis: I'm absolutely flabbergasted. I'm not surprised the Wildcats won, it's not that I didn't expect them to win, it's that they didn't just win, they totally dominated Wisconsin. Wisconsin is top-five nationally in scoring defense and Davidson just carved it up. Everyone is going to talk about Stephen Curry and obviously he is reaching legendary status and will a part of NCAA lore. But the story of the game was Davidson's defense.
Wisconsin was totally unable to run the vaunted swing offense of Bo Ryan -- the Badgers couldn't even throw an entry pass in the post, which is where they were supposed to have their advantage. The Wildcats are underrated on defense -- they have great rebounding, they're tough and quickness is important on defense -- its not just size. I sent a text a message to Grant Wahl as the Texas game and Davidson game were getting out hand and I said, "I guess size doesn't matter, because if it does then Stanford and Wisconsin would have won. You want big guys if you can get them, but if you ask any coach if he had to choose between the team that had quick guards that could score but were suspect in size verses size that was suspect in perimeter play, they would all choose the perimeter team.
The Wildcats are so well coached, they're tough, they're experienced, they played the great schedule and are not going to phased by anyone they plays. They were absolutely awesome.
SI.com: So what's next for them?
SD: Kansas. I think they're going to have a big problem with Kansas -- Davidson's beaten two teams that don't like to be sped up, but Kansas loves to be sped up and it will also be able to defend on the perimeter. Kansas' four guards are so good on defense, Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson are both among the league leaders in the Big 12 in steals and they're great on offense and Brandon Rush is great on defense so if they need to grind it out they can, but they love to run. I think that was Villanova's problem -- it wanted to go, and Kansas was more than happy to be there.
Davidson has some magic going right now, but this to me is a whole other cast. I wouldn't put it past it -- itdefinitely has a better chance than winning than Georgetown and Wisconsin would have, but this is a much, much steeper hill to climb.
SI.com: So what did Kansas do to Villanova?
SD: The Jayhawks just love to run -- it's so much fun to watch them throw that lob pass -- it's actually a high percentage play because they have guys who can finish. They have a lot of tournament experience; they know how hard it is to get to a Final Four because they've gotten there.
Villanova had a solid year, but it was the last team to get into the tournament and it beat Siena and came back on Clemson, but Kansas is at a different level. It does feel like we are headed for number ones in the Final Four.
SI.com: This would be the first time that that's happened ever -- why could it happen this year?
SD: Well let's caution, it hasn't happened yet. But I think all year long there seemed to be a separation between the top tier and second tier and these four teams plus Tennessee and Texas have been the top tier all season. I never thought Duke was quite in that class. This round is the hard one, people always say regional final is the hardest to coach in because you're so close to the Final Four.
SI.com: Were you surprised at what Memphis did to a pretty good Michigan State team?
SD: I was definitely surprised at the margin, but I did feel they would win. Memphis was playing with a chip on its shoulder, for a team that only lost one game all year it has had it's share of doubters. The thing is, if you're shooting free throws poorly, it only matters if it's a close game. The Tigers are really awesome defensively -- Texas is going to face a similar problem in that itsguards are so small and Memphis has a good defender in Antonio Anderson. He knows how to defend, he likes to defend, he takes pride in it and he swallowed up Drew Neitzel whole. In the first half, Neitzel forgot about getting a clean look and a shot -- he couldn't catch a pass. I can imagine Anderson chasing D.J. Augustin like that and he's a better player than Neitzel.
SI.com: What about the home court advantage?
SD: It should definitely help, although I heard Billy Packer say because the seats are so far from the court, he didn't feel the arena was really that loud. I have no idea why the seats should be so far from the court, it keeps the fan further from the action and that's a bad idea. I have no idea why the NCAA decided to have the court elevated. I don't know why they did that it -- it looks awkward, it's awkward for the head coaches to confer with their assistants, it's an injury risk if a player wants to chase a ball out, many a time a player had to almost jump off the platform. I would love to know what the reason is. It looks bad, it's dangerous and it ruins the atmosphere.