Davidson Basketball: NCAA Tournament Sweetheart Getting Hot At Right Time

By Gerrit Ritt
Davidson Wildcats
Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports

Only 11 teams in Division I basketball have one or less losses in conference play. Many of those are the big boys in the nation’s Top 10: Florida, Wichita State, Virginia, Saint Louis. The rest are the mid-major schools: Harvard, Vermont, Stephen F. Austin, Georgia State and North Carolina Central. All of them have 20 wins this season, except two. One of them is Robert Morris, who’ll go for No. 20 on Saturday in their final regular season game of the year.

The other is the Davidson Wildcats.

You remember Davidson, right? They shocked the world when Stephen Curry lit up four straight teams during one of the more captivating NCAA tournament performances of all-time in 2008. The Wildcats made it to the Elite Eight before finally being knocked off by No. 1 seed Kansas, 59-57. One possession was all that separated Davidson from the Final Four, which would’ve been their best tourney finish in school history.

They’ve had success since then, making the tournament the last two years, twice losing in the first round. In 2012, it was eventual Final Four participant Louisville who took them down. Last year, it was No. 3 seed Marquette, who would advance to the Elite Eight.

This season started off poorly for the Wildcats. Not that they could’ve done too much about it. Their schedule was ridiculous. Wins over Georgia and crosstown rival Charlotte were vastly overpowered by losses to Virginia, Duke, North CarolinaClemson, New Mexico and the still undefeated Wichita State. It makes you wonder how on Earth their strength of schedule is only ranked 204th in the country!

There’s only one answer to that, of course, and that’s the ineptitude of this year’s Southern Conference, where the bottom six teams are a combined 57 games under .500. The result is an insanely low RPI of 145 for the Wildcats, despite currently being on an 11-game winning streak (and 14 of 15). This will yet again be a one-bid conference, which is all its ever received. You either win the conference tournament or you can book your ticket to the NIT instead … if you’re lucky.

Davidson clinched the regular season title a week ago when they finished off their season sweep of second-place Wofford. However, their 14-1 league record won’t mean a thing if they can’t hoist the tournament trophy, which they’ll be looking to do for the third straight time. For a school with just 1,790 students, that ain’t all bad. But for a program with an impressive history of basketball success, both recent and historically, nothing less this year will be deemed acceptable.

Gerrit Ritt is a college basketball columnist for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GMadness1 or add him to your network on Google.

You May Also Like