5 Reasons Why Davidson Can Make a Run to the Sweet 16
Stephen Curry helped make the Davidson Wildcats a team to remember come tournament time. As a 10 seed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, the sophomore led the team to an appearance in the Elite 8. Davidson lost to eventual tournament champion Kansas by only two points. Hard to believe that this year’s squad could be better than that team, but it might be true.
The Davidson Wildcats enter the 2013 NCAA Tournament with momentum on their side. The team has won 17 games in a row since their last loss. That loss was the lone blemish on Davidson’s record in the Southern Conference. Davidson dominated the Southern Conference by winning the regular season and conference tournament titles.
Behind the Davidson Wildcats is a team full of experienced players. Among the team’s leading scorers, three seniors and two juniors make up five of the top six scorers. This experience has led to Davidson ranking in the top 50 in the NCAA in both points (38th) and field goal percentage (42nd).
Davidson was given a 14 seed in the East region of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. In its first game, the Wildcats will take on the Marquette Golden Eagles, out of the Big East Conference. If the Wildcats can escape that game, they will then take on the winner of Butler and Bucknell, which will be a winnable game as well.
Many people, myself included, thought Davidson received a worse seed than expected. Davidson should be able to expose that by staging a first round upset. If Davidson can sneak by Marquette, they should be able to beat the winner of the next game too.
On January 14th, Davidson lost to Southern Conference opponent Georgia Southern. That game marked the last time the Wildcats have lost. Since that game, Davidson has gone 17-0 winning the regular season conference champion and rolling through the Southern Conference Tournament. Oh yeah, the streak of 17 is the longest in the NCAA at the current time.
Clint Mann Returns
Clint Mann is Davidson’s sixth man and a key contributor off the bench. Unfortunately the team has been without the forward the last 16 games. Mann is expected to return to the team during the NCAA Tournament. This will be a key factor to help ease the playing time of Jake Cohen and keep forwards out of foul trouble. Mann averages 7.3 points and 3.0 rebounds on the season.
Coach Bob McKillop
Bob McKillop has been the head coach of Davidson for the last 24 seasons. In that time, McKillop has helped make Davidson one of the most dominant Southern Conference teams of all time. McKillop’s career NCAA Tournament record of 3-6 doesn’t look like much on paper. However, McKillop’s experience coaching in the tournament and the team made up of starters from last year’s tournament qualifying team should help Davidson not feel any pressure in the first round.
As mentioned in the intro slide, Davidson ranks 38th in the NCAA with 73.7 points. That should serve well as the team takes on lower scoring opponents. Marquette ranks 134th in the nation with 69.0 points per game. Butler and Bucknell rank 123rd and 177th respectively. Davidson should look to continue its up tempo offense to control its games in the NCAA Tournament.
Along with its high scoring average Davidson also ranks 42nd in the NCAA with a .463 field goal percentage. The team also will have no trouble winning games if it is put on the foul line. Davidson shoots 80% as a team at free throws. All of the teams starters shoot over 70% for free throws, including three over 83%.
The Davidson Wildcats are led by 6’10” senior forward Jake Cohen. With an average of 14.8 points per game, Cohen leads the team in scoring production. Cohen also is second on the team with 5.5 rebounds per game. Cohen shoots the ball well, making 50% of his field goals, 83% of his free throws and 39% of three point shots. In last year’s tournament matchup with Louisville, Cohen scored 24 points and led all scorers in a second round game that knocked the Wildcats out of the tournament.