Name: Davidson College
Location: Davidson, North Carolina. Wow, who could have seen that coming.
Okay But Where Exactly Is That? About a 30 minute drive from the Charlotte airport.
Enrollment: 1,843, or roughly the size of Marquette’s freshman class.
Other Fun Facts: No one at Davidson receives loans as part of financial aid. Instead, all financial need is met through scholarships, grants, student employment, and other avenues for financial aid. The second ever Royal Shakespeare Company residency at a US college was held there in 2002, where the RSC performed The Merchant of Venice. 80% of female students and 40% of male students belong to a Greek Organization or an Eating House.
Wait, Did You Just Say “Eating House?” Sure did! It’s kind of a sorority at Davidson except you express a preference for what house you want to join and then you get placed in one as opposed to a sorority letting you in, and no one lives in the house, and each one appears to have a specific on-going charity cause that they support.
Tell Me The Alumni, Though: NBA superstar Stephen Curry. That’s it, that’s the list.
But in all seriousness, besides Steph, Davidson’s alumni include John Chidsey, the former CEO of Burger King; Lunsford Ricardson, the inventor of Vicks VapoRub; Roger Brown, the current president of the Berklee College of Music; Kurkey Belser, the graphic designer and creator of the nutrition facts label; a metric ton of politicians that have served as governor of a state or as a United States Congressperson; 3 current or former ambassadors; Dean Rusk, former US Secretary of State; Charles Wright, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a United States Poet Laureate; and and finally, Cameron Harris, fake news creator (seriously, look at the damn Wikipedia article, that’s what he’s listed as. That’s hilarious.).
Nickname: Wildcats. How original. Only one of ten schools using that nickname, including Marquette conference foe Villanova.
Head Coach: Bob McKillop, in his 31st season as the head coach of Davidson College. I’m only 25, he’s been there longer than I’ve been alive. Yikes.
So He Recruited And Coached Steph Curry? Yep, including making the Elite 8 in 2008 with Curry guiding them to wins over Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Wisconsin before bowing out by 2(!!) to Kansas. What a damn run.
Well What About Since Then? A very respectable 4 NCAA tournament appearances since 2008, all of which have ended in the first round, including the heart-stopper against Marquette in 2013 when the Golden Eagles suddenly remembered how to hit threes, then Vander Blue hit the game winning layup and then did his best free safety impression on the resulting defensive possession to win.
Hey, look, the end of that game is on YouTube.
Wait Marquette Has Won a Tournament Game this Decade? Shut up, I’m old, I get it. That was my freshman year and I remember very little of after that game, as we had been drinking in the dorms like degenerates due to how bad it was.
So What About This Year? Well, it’s hard to tell. Davidson came into the year with high expectations in a very loaded A-10 (See Dayton and Toppin, Obi plus others). While they missed the tournament last year, Dayton returned four of five starters, including the starting backcourt of Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson. A lot of offense, a lot of good shooting, and a lot of continuity for an A-10 school. They had high hopes and were receiving votes just outside the Top 25 to start the year.
They have started off with a record of 2-3, losing on a neutral floor in their opener to Auburn (that’s fine), at Charlotte (that is the 49ers not the Hornets, so that’s bad), and on a neutral-ish but probably not really court against Wake Forest (Danny Manning is probably getting fired, so that’s bad for him and for Davidson), while triumphing over both UNC Wilmington and Nevada at home fairly easily. The starting 5 are all averaging an Offensive Rating over 101 according to KenPom, and all of the starters are shooting 31% or better from 3. What’s going wrong here?
Well, Davidson’s allowing an effective field goal percentage of 54.1%, good for 295th best in the country. In other words, they can’t defend shots at all, and they’re really bad (#314 in the country) on the interior. They don’t offensive rebound well at all and are in the bottom 50 in getting to the free throw line. They turn opponents over 22.3% of the time, which is a massive yikes warning for this Marquette team, but otherwise, their defense isn’t great and if they aren’t hitting shots, they don’t have much else that can keep them in a game. Plus, opponents are shooting 55.9% from 2 against them. If Marquette can shake its two-point percentage woes like they did against Robert Morris, there’s a lot of good that can be done by the Golden Eagles on the offensive end.
They also aren’t deep. They basically play a 7 man rotation with some spot minutes from one other player.
So What Do You Think? Well they haven’t looked good yet, but Marquette has played like one good half of basketball this year, two if you want to count Markus Howard going nuts in the first half against Loyola Maryland as team success. I think Marquette can cause enough defensive problems to the backcourt of Davidson, even if the entire starting five is 6’5” or taller. Marquette is the second best defense overall that Davidson has faced, the best two-point defense Davidson has faced, and the best offensive eFG% has faced so far. Davidson relies a lot on the three (43.8% of their shot attempts), so if Marquette can make the 3 a hard shot to hit or even take, honestly, I like Marquette’s chances. I’ll say Marquette wins by 5, 72-68.