|Davidson's a familiar name in March, and Bob McKillop's team could very well be dangerous again this iyear. (US Presswire)|
Heading into the season, everyone wants to know of dangerous mid-major teams that could make noise come March. It's a question that I get asked almost as much as any other this time of year. Creighton is the obvious choice with Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott, VCU and Butler are common answers to the question and teams like Drexel and North Texas are also being mentioned.
Davidson is sliding under the radar, and I'm not quite sure why.
Bob McKillop's team won 25 games last season, won 16 league games and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament, where it lost 69-62 to a Louisville team that wound up going to the Final Four. Davidson didn't lose a single player of note -- yet the Wildcats haven't gotten much pub at all entering the 2012-13 campaign.
Credit Stephen Curry for helping to put this team together because McKillop said this veteran group (the starting lineup has three seniors and two juniors) is the result of Davidson's Elite Eight run in 2008, in which Curry turned into the nation's darling in March.
"This is a byproduct of the fact we got national attention on a national stage," McKillop said Tuesday night on SiriusXM's Inside College Basketball. "It's been really fascinating to see all this unfold as a response to what we did in the Elite Eight that year."
McKillop has two guys on his roster who could win Southern Conference Player of the Year honors: leading scorer and senior De'Mon Brooks and skilled junior big man Jake Cohen. Brooks, Cohen and three others -- Seniors Nik Cochran and J.P. Kulhman as well as junior Chris Czerapowicz -- all averaged in double figures a year ago.
"We've got great versatility and outstanding balance," McKillop said. "We have an inside attack as well as an outside attack. We can shoot the ball well, and we can also score inside and off the bounce."
Cohen is a 6-foot-10 skilled big man who can score with his back to the basket and also step out and make shots from beyond the arc. He put up 14.3 points and 6.1 boards last season and had 24 points and 10 boards in the loss to Louisville. McKillop said several NBA scouts have come through in the preseason and said Cohen could be a late second-rounder in June's NBA draft. Brooks is an undersized big man who averaged 15.7 points and 6.2 boards a year ago -- and combines athleticism and an improving skill level.
"Those two work very well together," McKillop said.
McKillop has put together a non-conference schedule that should give him enough opportunities to get in the at-large conversation. The Wildcats will play Duke again in Charlotte, on Jan. 2, will play in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando and also have road contests against Drexel, New Mexico and Richmond.
Davidson might not have a dynamic star like Curry, but what McKillop does have is a dangerous team that deserves to be mentioned with the other elite mid-major programs.