Who had this circled as the SoCon Game of the Year in the preseason? Maybe a few. Who had this
circled as the SoCon Game of the Year in mid-December? I'd harbor a guess that no one did. Is it the SoCon Game of the Year now? You can certainly make that case. There will be other big games as the season progresses, but this is a match-up of the only two teams with one conference loss or less- and it is their only match-up of the regular season. This game could go a long way to determining who wins the regular season championship. If the two teams end up tied for first, the winner of this game would get the higher seed in the SoCon Tournament and an automatic bid to the NIT if they lose in Asheville.
So this game matters. For Davidson, they expected to be in this situation. They expected to have one SoCon loss or less at this point and be playing games with the conference title on the line. No one doubts that Davidson is for real. For Chattanooga, few people expected them to be here. Many people thought they'd be fighting it out for a bye, but not be unbeaten in the SoCon. Despite the fact that the Mocs beat Elon by 21 (and it wasn't that close) last Thursday, there are many people wondering if the Mocs are for real.
Since Rico White has been playing more than five minutes and Z Mason has been back healthy, the Mocs have gone on a ten game winning streak. White is averaging 12.1 points per game and is averaging two assists per game with only .8 turnovers. He is shooting 83.8% from the free throw line and 43.5% from three point range. Casey Jones is making a case to be on an All SoCon team as well. He's averaging 11.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He is shooting 57.9% from the floor. Martynas Bareika has been a streaky three point shooter as well, knocking down 35.6% from long distance. He's gotten better at getting to the paint as well.
The Mocs are the best OR% in SoCon games. They also are the league leader in drawing fouls. They are the best defensive team in the league in opponents three point shooting, and that has helped them lead the league in defensive eFG%. They are the second best team in the league at not committing fouls defensively.
Tyler Kalinoski has turned into a pretty good player. He leads the Wildcats in assists with 3.3 per game. He is making 46.4% from three point range on the year, while averaging 11.1 points per game. He's also second on the team in rebounds with 5.4 per game. Brian Sullivan is the team's leader in three pointers made. He is making 34.7% from three point range and second on the team in scoring at 12.5 per game. He is only 5-11.
Davidson leads the conference in shooting. They are the leading three point shooting team, two point shooting team and free throw shooting team. They also rank second in league games in eFG%. However, when they lost to Elon, they let the Phoenix get a lot of offensive rebounds (something they aren't particularly good at) and shoot pretty well. The Wildcats need to do those things in order to win these games. They are 6th in the conference in OR% and DR%. That's slightly below average.
The Mocs and Wildcats are actually a pretty good match-up. The Mocs strength is in rebounding, and the Wildcats aren't a great rebounding team. The Wildcats do have a size advantage, though. The match-up between Mason and Brooks should be interesting. They are both very good. The Mocs zone defense has been very good, and the Wildcats could have a hard time with it. I think in Asheville this game could be very close. But at Davidson, this is the time for the Mocs to fall down a peg. They'll be in the game in the final minutes, but Davidson will win. Wildcats 78, Mocs 71.