Davidson WildcatsLocation: Davidson, NC
Conference: Southern Conference
Tournament Credentials: Won Southern Conference Tournament
Davidson has won 18 of their last 21 games entering Thursday's NCAA opener against Louisville. The Wildcats are led by SoCon Player of the Year and tourney MVP De'Mon Brooks and forward Jake Cohen, who was voted the SoCon POY by the media. Those two combined to average more than 30 points and 12 rebounds.
A high-scoring squad, Bob Killops team prefers an uptempo game. Davidson has scored 80 or more points in five of their last 10 games and ranks 12th nationally in scoring at 78.4 points per game.
Before advancing to the regional finals in their last NCAA appearance, Davidson had lost six consecutive times in the first round dating back to 1970.
McKillop on Louisville"They are tenacious with their pressure and what makes their pressure so effective is not just the tenacity, but their IQ and instinct. That comes from talented players who are well coached. He (Pitino) has a standard of excellence when it come to developing pressure defense. Rick is well-schooled in his system and he has really implemented it quite well with these guys."
Will he try to slow the game's pace against the Cardinals?
"To try to remake who we are at this point in the season…would be foolish on our part. We're going to be who we are. We were that way when we played Duke. We were that way when we played Kansas and Vanderbilt. We were that way when we played in the Southern Conference. We have a lot of experience playing that way. So to deviate from that would not be the smart thing for us."
Player to watchF De'Mon Brooks (Soph.), 6-7, 227.
2011-12 Stats: 16 points, 6.3 rebounds
Brooks, the Southern Conference Player of the Year and SoCon tournament MVP, is the leader for Davidson. Brooks, a sophomore, leads the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding despite playing fewer minutes than any other starter.
A versatile forward, Brooks can score inside and outside. Brooks did most of his damage inside the arch, making 53 percent from the floor, but also drained 38 percent from behind the arch (21 of 56). A good free throw shooter, Brooks connected on 72 percent of his 125 attempts from the foul line this season.
One of only three players in the Southern Conference to rank in the Top 10 in the league in scoring (sixth), rebounding (ninth) and field goal percentage (sixth), Brooks scored at least 20 points in nine games this season, including 26 against Citadel.
"He is outstanding due to his versatility both inside and outside," said Davidson forward Jake Cohen. "If you take away one aspect of his game, he still has two or three other aspects he can go to."
"He is just a determined player who will often get his own rebound and put it back in," guard J.P. Kuhlman. "He is relentless on the offensive end."
One of the nation's highest scoring outfits, Davidson can put the ball through the basket. All five starters average double figures, and the Wildcats ranked first or second in the Southern Conference in scoring, scoring margin, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage. Though Davidson ranks just 184th nationally in three-point shooting percentage, all five starters made at least 21 threes this season.
Davidson ranked second in the Southern Conference in rebounds and 15th nationally in rebound margin. Though Davidson does not boast a dominant individual rebounder on their roster, six Wildcats average at least 3.1 boards per contest.
There's a reason Davidson has to score a lot of points - they aren't particularly adept at stopping the other team. The Wildcats allow 68 points per game, which ranks 200th in the nation. Davidson ranks 157th nationally in field goal percentage defense, and ranks only 148th nationally in turnover margin. Davidson allowed 80 or more points in seven games this season. The four NCAA Tourney teams the Wildcats played this season averaged 83.5 points. Davidson lost three of those four games.
Davidson is an excellent foul shooting team, but their opponents actually shot more free throws this season. Wildcat opponents attempted 23.5 foul shots per contest. Davidson's top two players - Brooks and Cohen - are vulnerable to foul trouble. They fouled out of 13 games combined and committed more fouls than anyone else of McKillops roster.
Wildcat TidbitsDavidson is 2-4 this season when shooting under 40 percent. Louisville ranks third in the nation in field goal defense (.379). Five of the Cardinals last 10 opponents shot below 40 percent.
Louisville and Davidson share two common opponents this season-Vanderbilt and College of Charleston. The Cardinals topped Vandy 62-60 in overtime at home, while Davidson lost 87-83 at home to the Commodores. Louisville defeated College of Charleston 69-62 at home, while Davidson split a pair of conference con- tests against the Cougars (W, 87-69, home; L, 86-78, road).
Davidson has lost nine of their past ten games against ranked opponents. Louisville is ranked No. 18 after winning the Big East last week.
Davidson was 6-5 against non-conference opponents this season. Duke, Charlotte, Wichita State and Vanderbilt all scored more than 80 points against the Wildcats, including 91 by Wichita State on Feb. 18.
Turnovers were an issue for Davidson in losses to UMass (19), Charlotte (19), Duke (17). Charlotte, Wichita State and Duke also shot better than 50 percent from the field against Davidson.