Davidson announced this past spring that they were leaving the SoCon, and instantly the team that has dominated the last decade of SoCon hoops was gone.
All that did was gear people up for one last run at the SoCon champs.
So far, the Wildcats are 3-0 in SoCon play, but they are about to battle the preseason league favorite and a team that thinks they can be a SoCon contender this year in the span of about 48 hours. Those 48 hours will tell us all exactly where Davidson really stands.
The Phoenix have been itching for this opportunity for a while. Elon hired Matt Matheny from Bob McKillop's staff with an eye of turning their program into another Davidson. They copied their style of play. Now, they have a team that they think can win the SoCon. This is their shot at Davidson at their own gym this year. They've been gunning for them all offseason. To be the best, you've got to beat the best.
The UNCG Spartans are upstarts this year to some degree. Last year was supposed to be their year to make a run. Now, without Darrell Armstrong and Trevis Simpson, the Spartans have improved. Their fanbase is hungry for a win to validate their program. A home game against the champs? Yes, please. This is their chance to prove to the world that they belong among the SoCon elite.
The Wildcats struggled mightily out of SoCon play against a difficult schedule. Now, they can get back to the NCAA Tournament by winning the SoCon. They have been inconsistent this year. But they have a chance to get on a real positive roll here if they can win these two games.
Time is running out for the rest of the SoCon to catch the Wildcats. This is the last shot at the Wildcats. Two teams take their best shots at Davidson this week. Will it lead to validation of those programs? Or will it lead to the re-establishment that Davidson is the team to beat?
We'll find out. This week.
Team to Watch This Week- Davidson
Obviously. Did you just read the article? The Davidson Wildcats play two huge games against two good SoCon teams this week. We'll learn a lot about whether or not Davidson will walk or run through this conference.
Thing You May Not Know.... But Should
Strength of schedule matters this early in conference play. Below is a chart of each team's SoCon record and in parentheses, their opponents record and winning percentage. The teams are ranked in terms of opponents winning percentage. Note: If Team A beat Team B, Team B's record minus one loss was added to Team A's total. That way Team A beating Team B does not count in the strength of schedule factor.
1) Western Carolina 3-0 (5-0, 1.000)
2) Appalachian State 0-3 (4-2, .667)
3) The Citadel 0-3 (5-3, .625)
4) Wofford 2-2 (6-4, .600)
4) Georgia Southern 1-1 (3-2, .600)
4) Furman 0-4 (6-4, .600)
7) Samford 1-3 (4-6, .400)
8) Elon 2-1 (2-4, .333)
9) UNCG 2-1 (2-5, .286)
10) Chattanooga 4-0 (3-8, .273)
11) Davidson 3-0 (2-6,. .250)
That makes what Western Carolina has done even more impressive. No team they have played has lost a conference game if it wasn't too the Catamounts. That's impressive. Chattanooga has gotten a lot of press for playing an easy schedule, but Davidson has not been mentioned too much for playing an easy schedule. Not too surprising- the Wildcats have earned the right for a pass, while the Mocs have not in recent years.