Iowa CITY, Iowa - Don't be embarrassed. It's OK if you don't know much about Iowa's opponent in Friday's NCAA Tournament game.
Davidson just completed its first season in the Atlantic 10. It moved from the Southern Conference, where it first joined in 1936.
We hear a lot about the Missouri Valley Conference in these parts. That's our "mid-major" league of familiarity.
The A-10 members are often overlooked as much as UNI and Wichita State. And this year, at least, it's a deeper group to the east. VCU and Dayton join Davidson in the Big Dance while Richmond, Rhode Island and George Washington are headed to the NIT. LaSalle, UMAss, Saint Louis, St. Josephs and George Mason also reside in that league.
Davidson won the A-10 regular season title with a 14-4 league mark. The Wildcats won 10 games in a row before losing to VCU, 93-73, in the conference tournament semifinals on Saturday. They'd beaten VCU, 82-55, nine days earlier.
Davidson enters the Big Dance ranked sixth nationally in scoring (79.9 PPG), which also rates third behind only BYU and Duke among teams in the NCAA Tournament. Much of the damage is done from behind the three-point arc, where the Wildcats average 10.9 treys a game, second in the country. They're 14th with a 39.7 percentage from deep.
Coach Bob McKillop starts a small lineup with freshman Peyton Aldridge (6-7) his tallest first-teamer. It also includes Tyler Kalinoski (6-4), Jordan Barham (6-4), Jack Gibbs (6-0) and Brian Sullivan (5-11).
Kalinoski (17.0) leads four Wildcats averaging double figures in scoring. Gibbs (16.3), Sullivan (12.8) and Barham (11.9) join him while Aldridge (9.3) sits just below them. Barham (6.0), Kalinoski (5.6) and Aldridge (5.2) are the the top three rebounders. Gibbs (4.8), Kalinoski (4.1) and Sullivan (3.9) pace them in assists.
The aforementioned statistics reveal a balanced attack. There's also depth. Ten players average at least 10 minutes an outing.
Balance and depth are what the Wildcats share with Iowa.They're about the only things the combatants have in common.
Three Hawkeye starters - Adam Woodbury (7-1), Aaron White (6-9) and Jarrod Uthoff (6-9) - stand taller than any Davidson starter, Aldridge. A fourth, shooting guard Peter Jok, is an inch shorter than him.
Iowa uses its size and length to its advantage on defense and the backboards. It holds opponents to 61.9 PPG, 18 fewer than the Wildcats average, and its 4.2 rebound margin ranks 51st nationally and easily outdistances Davidson's 0.9, which is 156 in the country.
Davidson turns the ball over just 9.6 times a game, which ranks seventh in the land. Its 1.8 assist-turnover ratio is first.
How this game is officiated also is something on which to keep an eye. The Hawkeyes made 524 free throws this season, 34th nationally, while Davidson sank just 386 (273rd).
Something else to keep in mind, the Wildcats, who run a true motion offense that relies on reading the defense, were picked to finish last in the A-10 this season. They've historically done well as an underdog.
Here are some videos of Davidson's offense attack in action. It likely will remind you a little of Wisconsin and UNI: