Sweet 16 preview: Richmond v. Kansas

I feel compelled to remind everyone caught up in ONE SHINING MOMENT OF AMAZING RVA HOOPS MANIA! that the University of Richmond Spiders have history on their side when it comes to being the local pretty, pretty princess of March Madness.

There’s plenty of talk locally and nationally about VCU as this year’s officially licensed NCAA tournament Cinderella story.

I feel compelled to remind everyone caught up in ONE SHINING MOMENT OF AMAZING RVA HOOPS MANIA! that the University of Richmond Spiders have history on their side when it comes to being the local pretty, pretty princess of March Madness.

Will it happen again for UR this Friday versus the Kansas Jayhawks? Will they advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history? Is this the best Spider team ever? Will I make it through the game without throwing up?

Let’s look at some facts!*

Coach Chris Mooney brings UR back to the tournament for the second year in a row, after losing a bruiser of a game last year in the first round to St. Mary’s. The Spiders are the only program in NCAA history to ever win games as a 12, 13, 14, and 15 seed. However, they haven’t been to the round of 16 since 1988. The 2010 A-10 tournament champions rely on an efficient (sometimes snooze-inducing) Princeton- style offense and strong, solid defense that allowed just 60.8 points per game during the regular season. This is the most balanced Spider team in years, led by standout forward Justin Harper and guard Kevin Anderson, who combined this season for an average 34 ppg. Richmond also seems dangerously underseeded this year, but perhaps that’s just my loyalty talking. Remember that time the Spiders beat Kansas in 2004 at Allen Fieldhouse? I DO.

Kansas, a storied basketball school with three national championships to their credit, returns to the tournament for the 22nd consecutive year. The Jayhawks are led by the unstoppable Morris twins, who combined for an amazing 72 points and 41 rebounds in KU’s first two tournament wins. Let me dispense with the statistics and be honest: there’s really very little the Jayhawks don’t do well. Perhaps their ball handling occasionally ranks as not quite awesome? Maybe most importantly, there’s last year’s embarrassing (and bracket-destroying; thanks, jerks!) second-round loss. You can’t statistically quantify the impact of Northern Iowa’s looming specter. If I were Bill Self, I’d be showing that particular game tape on a continuous loop on the plane to San Antonito.

How Kansas will win

They will be Kansas. On paper, the Jayhawks have every advantage: size, speed, depth, and a giant Farokhmanesh-shaped chip on their shoulder. If they play as they have played all season, Richmond will likely be able to hang tight for the first half but will not be able to keep pace with the Jayhawks offense.

How Richmond will win

They need a little bit of luck and a lot of defense against the team with the best field goal percentage in the country. The Spiders must slow down the Morris brothers early and disrupt the Jayhawk offense. And rebound. There must be many rebounds. If the Spiders get hot from behind the three-point line and manage to stay that way deep into the second half, Kansas may wind up with another embarrassing game tape to watch on the plane next year.

My brain’s prediction: Kansas by eleven. It will be close until the last eight minutes, but Richmond will eventually run out of steam.

My heart’s prediction: Richmond by eleventy billion.

*Full disclosure: I am a proud UR alum. I’ve been singing my six-month-old to sleep with our fight song every night since selection Sunday. BUT I picked Kansas to take it all this year. Even though they screwed me out of winning my bracket pool last year and receiving free booze. Jerks.

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Kristin Jimison

2 comments on Sweet 16 preview: Richmond v. Kansas

  1. RMB on said:

    Heart prediction, HEART prediction!

  2. Robert on said:

    RVANEWS SUCKS.

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