Can Davidson emulate 2008 heroics?
by Patrick Stevens, Special for USA TODAY Sports
Team of the day: Davidson
Route to the Dance: Automatic bid (Southern)
Credentials: 26-7 (17-1 Southern), regular-season and conference tournament champions
Signature win: There isn’t much of one. The Wildcats went 1-3 against the NCAA tournament field, with the only victory coming against eventual Big Sky champion Montana (93-87) on Feb. 23 in the Bracket Buster event.
In truth, the victories that ensure Davidson remains a highly visible sleeper occurred before any of the current players were on the roster. The Wildcats made the Elite Eight in 2008, and while this team lacks the star wattage of a Stephen Curry, it is still a cohesive, veteran group capable of making a push this year.
Team strength: Balance
It never hurts to have a transcendent star if you want to make a deep NCAA tournament run, and that goes the top overall seed or a conference champion from a one-bid league. Davidson knows it all too well thanks to its experience with Curry.
But absent one guy who can spark a magical multi-game push, the next best thing is to have balance like this edition of the Wildcats can unleash.
Jake Cohen and De’Mon Brooks combined to make a fabulous 1-2 scoring combination in the frontcourt, but they aren’t Davidson’s only dangerous players. Six Wildcats average at least 7.8 points, with four players above the nine-points-per-game plateau.
They’ll face a similarly even Marquette team in the round of 64 (the Golden Eagles have two double-digit scorers and five players averaging 7.1 points). Davidson, though, probably spreads its scoring out over its top six even better than Marquette does — and might need to if its defensively sound opponent is having a solid day.
This team will remind you of: Any number of past mid-major darlings
Davidson doesn’t immediately stand out as identical to another one-bid league wonder, but it is striking how much it has in common with the prototypical team capable of an upset.
The Wildcats can score from all areas of the floor. Six of the main seven players in their rotation are juniors and seniors. They’ve been here before, giving Louisville a decent run before falling 69-62 in … [For more on Cinderella Watch: Can Davidson emulate 2008 heroics?, click here.]