The Davidson Wildcats finish the non-conference portion of their schedule with an 8-3 record after losing badly to California 86-60 on Monday night. Davidson is in the Atlantic 10 for the second straight season after winning the regular season conference title last year. The Wildcats will now enter conference play with hopes of winning the league and making it back to the NCAA Tournament once again. Here’s a look at how the Wildcats performed in the non-conference slate of the season.
The Wildcats had a very straightforward showing in the non-conference: they won all of the games they were supposed to win and lost all the games that they were supposed to lose. For this reason, the Wildcats didn’t necessarily get a great win, but they still managed to beat some pretty decent opponents on their own floor.
For one, the Wildcats had a very good showing against instate rival Charlotte. Jack Gibbs led the way for Davidson with a career-high 41 points en route to a 109-74 victory. The Cats also beat a solid Mercer team 77-71 at home earlier in the season. Not to mention that the Wildcats also beat Charleston, a team that boasts am 8-3 record and a win over LSU. The Wildcats had one of the tougher strengths of schedule in the Atlantic 10, but against Power 5 opponents, they really fell flat.
It’s not the opponents that made Davidson’s losses “bad losses,” but it’s the sheer margin that the Cats lost by. In games against North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and California, the Wildcats lost by a combined 84 points. All three opponents played more athletic and shot the ball better from the floor. Davidson had a -61 rebounding margin in these three contests.
Davidson quite frankly didn’t stand much of a chance against North Carolina who walked all over the Wildcats 98-65. Pittsburgh has its way with Davidson in similar fashion, beating the Wildcats 94-65 in the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden. Finally, Davidson got crushed on the road by California 86-60. Granted, these three opponents are all very good teams, but Davidson was expected to play all three teams much tighter than they did. When shots aren’t falling for Davidson, the Wildcats struggle to compete with stronger, more athletic teams.
Davidson gets a B- for its performance in the non-conference slate of its schedule because its record basically met expectations. However, Davidson’s three losses are very indicative of the struggles that could ensue during conference play. The Wildcats were unable to compete with solid opponents, and even though their tournament hopes are still alive, they’ll need to learn to rebound and play better defense, especially when they play teams like Dayton and George Washington in conference play.