clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Davidson eyes repeat of magical 2008 run

Can the Wildcats earn their first NCAA Tournament victory in 14 years?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Basketball: Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Semifinal-Saint Louis vs Davidson
Luka Brajkovic received All-Atlantic 10 First Team honors.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Davidson Wildcats (27-7, 15-3 Atlantic 10) enter the NCAA Tournament in Greenville as the No. 10 seed in the West Region. Eying for its first Tournament win since 2008, Bob McKillop’s squad will look to replicate the magical run to the Elite Eight that the 10th-seeded Wildcats made that year.

Davidson enters the 2022 NCAA Tournament, earning an at-large bid after falling to the upset-minded Richmond Spiders in the Atlantic 10 Final.

Despite that setback, the Wildcats recorded one of the best regular season finishes in school history, tallying a 25-5 record. McKillop led Davidson to its 15th regular season championship under his guidance by claiming the Atlantic 10 regular season crown.

Although there is no Stephen Curry to captivate the basketball world and guide the Wildcats, McKillop has a talented roster in the Tar Heel State.

The Wildcats amassed a 15-game winning streak that included a 79-78 victory over then No. 11 and SEC power Alabama.

Davidson has recorded 21-straight winning seasons under McKillop, with every Wildcat since 1994 reaching at least one NCAA Tournament.

The streak was extended this season thanks in part to the dynamic offense of the Wildcats. Ranking 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency, Davidson had the second best offense of all mid-majors.

The Davidson duo of Luka Brajkovic (14.2 PPG, 7.2 PPG) and Hyunjung Lee (16.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG) powered the Wildcats and earned All-Atlantic 10 First Team honors. Brajkovic was voted the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year.

Leading scorer Foster Loyer earned All-Atlantic 10 Second Team, averaging 16.4 points per contest. The Michigan State transfer leads the nation in free-throw percentage (93.4%) and ranks second in 3-point percentage (44.5%).

For Loyer, this trip to the NCAA Tournament features a matchup with his old team.

Despite the relationships and three years in East Lansing, Loyer has limited the outside distractions and focused on the task at hand.

“Obviously, there’s some extra kind of stuff with me,” he said. “At the same time, we’ve been focused this past week on just staying within ourselves.”

Foster and company are focused on the No. 7 seed Spartans and stopping their offense. The defense of the Wildcats has been their Achilles’ heel, ranking 148th in adjusted defensive efficiency. This puts Davidson as the sixth-worst remaining team in the Tournament in this statistic.

In one of the more intriguing 7-vs.-10 matchups this year, the Wildcats will look to snap their four-game losing streak in the Big Dance.

With the help of their elite offensive attack, Davidson can clinch its spot in the Round of 32.

How to Watch

Matchup: Davidson vs. Michigan State

Date and Time: Friday, March 18 at 9:40 p.m. ET

Location: Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C.

TV: CBS

DraftKings Line: Michigan State -1.0, O/U 140

Prediction

A Round of 32 matchup between Coach K and Tom Izzo would be poetic as in Coach K’s final season. The Spartans have shown they are capable of beating talented teams in the Big Ten and are a one-point favorite. Although their production on the defensive end leaves a lot to be desired, I see the Wildcats stepping up to the challenge. With their dynamic offense and quartet of double figure scorers, Davidson will earn a spot in the Round of 32 with a 76-72 victory.

Breaking T Apparel

Saint Peter’s Shirt