Friday, February 1, 2008

Davidson has path to an at-large bid

January went well for Davidson, which won all 10 of its games and stormed to the Southern Conference lead. But February might not just give the Wildcats a shot at the top seed in the Southern Conference tournament, it might give Davidson a chance for something else:

An at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

People would have snickered at that scenario a month ago, when Davidson stood 4-6. Yet, even though Davidson only has one nonconference win against a Division I opponent (2-23 N.C. Central), the Wildcats still have a chance.

The lack of nonconference wins likely means Davidson would have to win its next 11 games, losing in the Southern Conference tournament final, to have a strong shot. That's not out of the realm of possibility - Davidson has only lost one conference game over the last two seasons, but the next three days will be pivotal.

Davidson plays at Chattanooga Saturday, and a win wouldn't just earn Davidson a victory against a Top 100 opponent, it would likely give the Wildcats one of the top matchups when the nonconference ESPN BracketBuster games are announced Monday. Thanks to its winning streak and All-American candidate Stephen Curry, the Wildcats could get paired up with ranked teams Butler or St. Mary's (Calif.). Davidson is guaranteed to be the road team no matter who it plays in the Feb. 23 game, so that would earn Davidson a nonconference road win.

If Davidson can win that game, and win everything else until the conference tournament final, I bet the Wildcats get in. Here's why:

---Davidson would be 21-1 in its last 22 games, and could have an RPI around 50 (it is around 80 now, depending on which site is used).

---Three of Davidson's seven losses would be to Top 10 RPI teams (assuming Duke, UNC and UCLA continue to win). Its other nonconference losses would be to at-large contender Charlotte, a one-point loss to N.C. State, and a loss at Western Michigan (which leads its division in the Mid-America Conference) in Davidson's second game of the season.

---Davidson could have five wins against Top 100 teams. (two against Chattanooga and App State, one against a BracketBuster team).

---The Wildcats can point to injuries as a factor in their slow start. Starters Max Paulhus Gosselin (back) and Curry (wrist) are much healthier now than they were at the start of season. Davidson has won every game by at least 10 points since Curry shedded his wrist wrap in January, and Gosselin is much more active now.

---Davidson might be ranked by March. (the Wildcats are already getting votes in the USA Today poll) .

It might sound crazy, but wait three weeks. If Davidson wins every game from now through the BracketBuster, you'll start finding the Wildcats in the bubble conversation. And, if they can win out from here until the conference final, they'll be in the NCAA tournament.

-- Kevin Cary


Anonymous said...

Two words: Fat Chance. No at-large for a team that is 2-6 outside conference play.

Anonymous said...

id really like to know what star you're wishing on.

sure rpi is important, but seriously, just playing good teams and losing isn't enough, regardless of the score. To get an atlarge they'll need an rpi of atleast 30 or better. its really tough to overlook a 2-6 nonconference.

There are just too many other teams that are better than them.

Justin Ritchie said...

I always try to pull for Davidson except when they play my Charlotte 49ers, but at-large is out of the question. The 'cats could finish with an RPI of 40 at best with only 3-4 wins against the RPI top 100. And that is only if Davidson stays undefeated. Best of luck to Davidson, but it probably won't happen.

Anonymous said...

I'd prefer that we get snubbed like always and then enter as an at-large and scare the crap out of whoever takes the place of Maryland/Ohio State in our first round game.

It's so fun embarassing all these big time programs by showing how much of their "strength" has to do with hocus-pocus scheduling.

Anonymous said...

Davidson has to win the conference championship. It's that simple!

Anonymous said...

Hometown newspapers always come up with these crazy scenarios. Lay off the hallucinogenic drugs. Davidson has as much of a chance at an at-large bid as I do.