One more time, the Wildcats and Cougars hook up in Charleston as SoCon members.
This one is as important as any previous match-up has been for these two teams. They have the two best records in the SoCon. There are three teams in the SoCon who have been good this year- Elon, College of Charleston, and Davidson. The top seed is going to avoid any of those other teams until the championship game, while the other two would have a potential match-up in the semifinals. Getting to the top seed line is critical for all three of those teams.
Davidson is 12-1, while College of Charleston is 10-3 in SoCon play. If Davidson wins, they will have virtually have eliminated the Cougars from the race for the number one seed. If the Cougars win, the lead will be down to one game. That is all part of what makes this such a huge game.
The Wildcats have won eight straight games. They also have a tremendous offense. De'Mon Brooks and Jake Cohen lead the team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. They are the only two Wildcats to average in double figures. They began the year as the Co-Players of the Year from a year ago. At the midseason, Brooks was the favorite to win the SoCon Player of the Year. At this point, I'm not sure if that still holds true. Both have been good, but Cohen now is averaging more points per game on better shooting, more assists and more blocks. Brooks only advantage is in rebounding and steals. Will either player win Player of the Year? I'm not sure. Cohen's 14.0 points per game is good but not great, and he combines that with 5.8 rebounds per game. Brooks is averaging 13.6 points and 6.4 rebounds. Cohen loves to hit the three ball, making 26 on the year on 40% shooting from long range.
JP Kuhlman has been playing better this year. He is averaging 7.8 points per game and 3.4 assists per game. He has had seven assists in each of the last two games. Kuhlman did not play at Georgia Southern, the Wildcats lone loss in SoCon play this year. Kuhlman will need to be very good in this one, because the Cougars defense has been very good.
As long time readers of this blog know, I love Chris Czerapowicz. Czerapowicz has made 40.2% of his threes on the year and is averaging 8.9 points per game. Also, Tyler Kalinoski has made 38 threes and is shooting 34.5% from three point range. Kalinoski and Czerapowicz will both have their chances to make threes in this one and loosen up the defense. It will be critical for the Wildcats that they do. The Cougars defense is one of the best in the league, so the Wildcats top notch offense will be put to the test.
The Cougars have won six straight. The Cougars are an interesting team. When they don't turn the ball over, they are an efficient offense. They normally shoot the ball well, although they made just 5 of 19 from long range against Chattanooga on Saturday night. Trent Wiedeman came to life in that one, scoring 16 and coming up with ten rebounds. He is slowly coming back from his earlier injury, and has had two very good games in the last three. He needs to come up big in this one.
When Wiedeman comes to life, that makes this team all the tougher, because Adejhi Baru has gotten very good. He is averaging 10.0 points and 8.5 rebounds. He has become a force to contend with down low, and his offensive game is developing all the time.
The guard play has been inconsistent for the Cougars, but when it is going well, it goes really well. Andrew Lawrence has shot 38.5% from three point range, and shot 13.7 points per game, along with four assists per game. He is the Cougars leading scorer and can by dynamic from long range. Anthony Stitt is shooting 39.4% from three point range, while being second on the team in scoring with 10.9 points per game and 3.2 assists.
The Cougars are the best rebounding team in the league, while Davidson is not far behind. These are two of the top rebounding teams in the SoCon. The importance of winning the rebounding battle can not be overstated. The Cougars do not want the Wildcats to be able to get out and run after a defensive board. The Wildcats also need to keep the second chance points to a minimum.
LEAD PIPE LOCK PREDICTIONS THAT ARE SURE TO GO WRONG
--Thought the Cougars struggled from three point range on Saturday? Don't count on that happening again. Lawrence will shoot well, and so will Kalinoski.
--The Cougars will outrebound the Wildcats.
--Adejhi Baru and Wiedeman will have big games.
--Look for Brooks to have a breakout performance.
--College of Charleston 77, Davidson 72. The Cougars will get plenty of second chance points and that will be the difference. They also will play their best home game of the year. They will be amped up to try to get a win over Davidson in Charleston for the last time. This should be a war and will come down to the very end, but the Cougars will find a way to get things done.