Davidson and College of Charleston. Wildcats and Cougars. These two teams won't meet more than three more times while members of the SoCon. This is the Cougars last trip to Davidson when both are members of the SoCon.
That adds a lot of intrigue to this one. What also adds a lot of intrigue to this one is that Davidson is 5-1 and at the top of the South Division and the entire SoCon and College of Charleston is 4-2 in the SoCon and currently second in the South Division and tied for third in the SoCon overall race. Both teams lost at Georgia Southern this week. This game is huge to both teams as they search to prove that they belong at the top of the SoCon standings.
This is a big rivalry, as these two teams don't like each other particularly. They have been two of the better teams in the SoCon over the last ten years and are trying to establish themselves as the best team in the conference this year.
Both teams have also been very inconsistent this year. One will come out of this game with momentum.
The Cougars have been really struggling on the offensive side of the ball. They are the best offensive rebounding team in the league, but they are the tenth ranked team in TO%, and are not a good shooting team. That was epitomized by Anthony Stitt going 0 for 13 against Georgia Southern in the Cougars most recent game. The Cougars offensive struggles are very real. They are a much improved defensive and rebounding team, but have not figured out the offensive side of the ball yet.
The Cougars need Trent Wiedeman to come back and be fully healthy. He is slowly working his way back up to full strength. Right now, he is averaging just 6.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest. Wiedeman is the type of guy that could be very good. He was a potential All SoCon player back in the preseason. His injury has really hampered this team. Assuming he is fully healthy by the time they get to to tournament, the Cougars will be a very different team.
In the mean time, the Cougars are relying on Andrew Lawrence, Adejhi Baru, and Stitt. Lawrence leads the team in scoring with fourteen points per game and 4.1 assists per contest. He is shooting 39.5% from three point range. Lawrence needs to hit shots from long range. If he does, that helps to open up the offense inside for Baru.
Baru is averaging 10.2 point and 9.1 rebounds per game. Defenses like to pack the lanes and stop Baru from getting easy looks. When they do that successfully without the Cougars shooting them out of that defense, that is when this offense really struggles.
Stitt is another shooter. He is averaging 11.3 points per game on 40% shooting from three point range and 3.2 assist per game. Stitt, as was mentioned earlier, went 0 for 13 in the last game, and that seemed to hurt him all the way around. Can Stitt get back on track in this one? If he does not, this game could really be ugly.
As anyone who follows Davidson this year knows, De'Mon Brooks and Jake Cohen are the two best Wildcat players. But Brooks is in a bit of a funk. Over the last five games, he has shot just 37.3% from the field. He is averaging just 9.8 points per game during that time. Prior to this five game stretch, he had scored in single digits just once, but has done that three times during the last five games. That includes the 15 point outing on Thursday against The Citadel. However, Brooks did average 6.8 rebounds per game during that stretch. On the year, he is averaging 13.6 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per contest. He is shooting 45.7% from the floor for the year, whereas he was shooting 48.9% fom the floor prior to the last five games.
On the other hand, Jake Cohen has gotten hot recently. He is averaging 15 points per game in the last five games. He is averaging 13.4 points per game on the season and 5.2 boards per contest. He shot 46.8% from the floor. He is a 41.3% shooter from three point range. It is tough to guard Cohen because he can shoot from long range or get down low and make shots down there. Cohen is very good.
Prior to the season, it was tough to determine if Brooks or Cohen should be the SoCon Player of the Year. At midseason, it seemed obvious that it was Brooks. At this point, I'm not sure that either deserve that kind of attention. They are both very good players, but they both have struggled at different points during the year. The Wildcats need both to be good for them to reach their full potential.
Another key player to the Wildcats success in my opinion is Chris Czerapowicz. He is their best shooter from long range, and the one that can really open up the inside game for Brooks. But he's scored in double digits just six times, but two of those were against Georgia Southern and Furman, when he scored 13 both times. He is a 43.4% shooter from three point range.
The Wildcats have been the best rebounding team in the SoCon so far, being second in OR% and first in DR% in all SoCon games to date. They also are the best two point percentage defense in SoCon games, holding opponents to 40.7% shooting from two point range.
LEAD PIPE LOCK PREDICTIONS THAT ARE SURE TO GO WRONG
--Davidson's struggles rebounding earlier this year are fairly well documented. They will get outrebounded in this game against a very good rebounding team.
--The "Good Cougars" will show up in this one. They are excited about this one, and will play more like they did last Saturday against Chattanooga than they did Monday against The Citadel or Thursday against Georgia Southern.
--Stitt will not miss every shot in this one.
--Czerapowicz will make at least three threes.
--Brooks will have his best game in a while.
--Davidson 71, College of Charleston 66. The Wildcats are the best team in the SoCon, but the Cougars will play a solid game. The Cougars have been very good on the road so far this year. Can they win at Davidson? I'm just not convinced.