Conventional wisdom says that No. 16 UC Davis (23-12) has no chance of upsetting No. 1 Kansas (28-4) on Friday. Well, UC Davis’ coach is Jim Les – the same Jim Les whose No. 13 Bradley team upset No. 4 Kansas, 77-73, in the first round of the tournament in 2006.
That upset, by the way, came on March 17 – exactly 11 years ago.
“That is crazy,” Les said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “It is 11 years to the day. I’m trying not to poke the bear too much. The facts are what they are. As I was getting texts (Wednesday) night after we won our game in Dayton and we’re heading to Tulsa, a lot of those players who were on that team that were a part of that upset in ’06 were texting me, and my wife casually reminded me that that wasn’t me that beat Bill Self; it was those guys who were texting me. That put it in perspective.”
Either way, it’s been a crazy week for UC Davis, which won by two in overtime in the Big West semis, won by three in the Big West final and beat North Carolina Central by four in the First Four on Wednesday. Friday will be UC Davis’ fifth game in nine days.
“We played a lot of games going back to the Big West Tournament in Anaheim,” Les said. “We went Thursday, Friday, Saturday, all close, energy-absorbing games. Sunday is Selection Show. Monday morning, we’re on the plane, heading out of Sacramento to Ohio. So it’s been a whirlwind. I talked to the bench guys about, ‘Hey, we’re going to need you. You guys are going to need to step up and be ready to go and give us some quality minutes.’ It’s truly been a team effort, this journey.”
UC Davis is a 24-point underdog Friday, but Les doesn’t care about spreads. Neither do his players.
“Our kids have done a great job of staying in the moment,” he said. “They’re not worried about the name on the front of the jersey or some of the guys’ names on the back of the jersey that get all the pub. They’re just worried about competing. . . . We’re not the most talented. We’re the first to admit that. But nobody is going to out-work us, nobody’s going to out-tough us, and we’re going to compete, whether it’s the Big West Tournament or whether it’s on this stage, having an opportunity to play in this tournament against Kansas.”
Tip-off is at 6:50 p.m. ET.