A funny thing happened on Notre Dame’s way to The Dance. A little team we like to call Davidson crashed the party.
Going into conference tournament play, conventional thought was Rhode Island, winners of the A10 regular season title, was the favorite. After they made the finals, all of the bubble teams had to be a little nervous, as the Rams were only (-2) favorites over the Wildcats. The teams split during the regular season. Davidson came in hot, winners of 7 of 8, including a win over Rhode Island. In fact, their only loss was a 3OT road loss to St. Bonaventure. Meanwhile, the story was opposite for the Rams. They wrapped up the regular season title relatively early and let their foot off the gas a bit, losing 3 of their last 5 games in the regular season. They were a shoo-in for The Dance. However, Davidson, due to early season struggles, wasn’t.
However, the Wildcats had other ideas. Despite Rhode Island shooting a better FG%, hitting more 3-pointers, a better 3PT%, having more rebounds, & more assists, somehow, some way, Davidson pulled it out, channeling their inner Steph Curry. Paced by Kellan Grady’s 17 pts, the Wildcats won the game on the FT line. They shot 14-16 (87.5%) from the charity stripe. The Rams could only muster 9-17 (52.9%). And in a game that was decided by one point, that = ouch.
Davidson’s win knocked Notre Dame out of The Dance, as the selection committee admitted that the Fighting Irish were the last team out. That’s tough for a team that had it’s best player, Bonzie Colson, injured for 15 games this year. But thems the breaks, as they say.
Now that Wildcats are in The Dance (vs the Wildcats (of Kentucky) no less), don’t just assume that they’re an automatic out. Yes, Kentucky is playing great. However, Davidson absolutely can hang with the SEC champions. The BPI gives them a 42% chance at winning. Peyton Aldridge is a great player that will be a tough guard for Kentucky. But at this point, they’re playing with house money. Not bad for a team that wasn’t supposed to be here.