It’s no secret that Davidson hasn’t gotten off to the best start in conference play by any means- the Wildcats are 4-4 in Atlantic 10 play, featuring losses to three tough teams and one not-so-good team. Davidson has lost away games to St. Bonaventure, Dayton, and Saint Louis, and most recently, a home game to VCU. The Wildcats’ have conference wins over Duquesne, George Mason, Massachusetts, and Richmond. Essentially, Davidson has managed to beat the easier teams (with the exception of Saint Louis) but hasn’t found a way to pull of any upsets. Though the Wildcats haven’t had a horrible season by any means, the lack of a real quality win is keeping them away from tournament contention. Bottom line: Davidson needs to make some sort of a push in this final month and a half to have a shot at the Big Dance.
Believe it or not, Davidson actually stood in a very similar position just one year ago. After losing to St. Joseph’s on February 4th, 2015, the Wildcats stood at 5-4 in conference play and looked as if they would need to make some kind of push to see the postseason. Bob McKillop’s team would go on to rattle off 9 consecutive wins to close the regular season, good enough to win the regular season Atlantic 10 title. The Wildcats would go on to get 4 wins over the Kenpom Top 75 in those final 9 games: George Washington (2), Rhode Island, and VCU. In addition, they had already accumulated two wins over the Top 75, Dayton and Richmond, before this final stretch of the season.
This year’s Davidson team is a little bit different in terms of quality of wins. While they’ve certainly faced some tough opponents, the Wildcats have failed to get even one win over the Kenpom Top 75 at this point in the season. Their best win was over #84 Richmond just last week. With just 10 games remaining in the regular season, Davidson has to realize that it needs to pick up some quality wins, and quickly. The Wildcats will have three chances against Top 75 teams: Dayton, VCU, and St. Joseph’s. In addition, they’ll get two separate tries against George Washington who currently ranks 80th according to Kenpom.
Can Davidson do what it did last year and finish out the season winning 9 or 10 in a row? Likely not, but if they do manage to get hot, they could put themselves back into tournament contention. Kenpom projects Davidson to win juts 5 of its 10 remaining games; that won’t quite cut it. Davidson is going to have to play like the underdog it’s used to being if it wants a shot at this year’s tournament. Winning the next 9 or 10 is highly unlikely, but if the Wildcats take things one game at a time, there’s no telling what could happen. Also, given the scoring ability of Jack Gibbs this season, there’s no doubt that Davidson could get hot and win the Atlantic 10 Tournament. There’s still plenty of basketball left in the season, so don’t count out Davidson just yet.