Atlantic 10 meets Conference USA Tuesday as the Davidson Wildcats visit the Charlotte 49ers.
Boasting seven 20-plus wins seasons in the last eight years, Davidson experienced a few difficult moments along their 76-66 opening night setback vs. #24 Auburn. After chopping the Tigers’ lead to 37-35 at intermission, Davidson’s defense lapsed as the Tigers’ 12-1 post-halftime run proved vital in winning the Veteran’s Classic played at the Naval Academy.
Not to diminish tonight’s host Charlotte 49ers, a group sporting just 14 wins since 2017-18, but Ron Sanchez’s men represent steep competitive downgrade from 2019 Final Four participant Auburn. Mid-major James Madison recently downed Charlotte 79-74 during the teams’ season opener played on the Dukes’ home floor.
Per Pregame.com, Davidson enters as a 12.5 road favorite vs. the rebuilding 49ers.
With firm continuity, Davidson looks for confidence boost tonightReturning all five starters from last season’s 24-10 NIT collection, another strong campaign is expected from Davidson under sideline institution Bob McKillop. Leading the Wildcats since 1989, McKillop boasts a special current backcourt of reigning A-10 Player of the Year Jon Axel Gudmundsson and all-A-10 first team standout Kellan Grady. At 6-5, rangy and versatile, senior Gudmundsson averaged 16.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 4.3 apg in 2019. Meanwhile, Grady’s 17.3 ppg led a balanced Davidson offensive advance. KiShawn Pritchett and Luke Frampton, each defensively-inclined outside shooters, join pivot Luka Brajkovic to complete the Wildcats’ steady core.
Much was expected from Davidson’s lead five vs. slightly declined Auburn. However, shooting just four of 18 between them, letdown performances from Brajkovic (zero of one, four fouls), Grady (two of 10, o of four 3pt, four fouls), and Gudmundsson (two of seven, zero of two 3pm, seven pts) hampered solid nights from Jones, Frampton and junior reserve Carter Collins. Led by frontliners Danjel Purifoy and Isaac Okoro, the Tigers’ athleticism overwhelmed Davidson. That speed and verticality advantage allowed Auburn to dictate pace while keeping the Wildcats always at arms’ length.
And vs. well-heeled SEC competition, for most A-10 schools such disadvantages are common. A bit deflated, tonight’s Charlotte visit should re-invigorate Gudmundsson & crew.
Davidson finished 2019 13-5 in the A-10. McKillop’s Wildcats averaged 70.9 ppg while shooting 45 percent overall and 35 percent from deep. Davidson’s point-stopping ability was elite, ranking #39 NCAA (65.6 pa).
Charlotte seeks to limit Davidson offenseLed into battle by second-year play-caller Ron Sanchez, Charlotte remains a long shot to cover, much less win Tuesday’s home-opener. After finishing with the nation’s sixth-worst 2019 offense, the 49ers should only regress after losing top scorer Jon Davis (21.7 ppg) to graduation.
The surprise vs. JMU was how poorly the 49ers’ defense played one season after finishing #99 nationally. With those misgivings fully displayed last week, James Madison placed four players in double-digit scoring while making a successful second-half run. In defeat, the 49ers shot 27.3 percent from outside, allowed 49.2 shooting and a game-high 22 points from Matt Lewis. Charlotte freshman Jahmir Young (16) and Jordan Shepherd (15) led the 49ers offensive effort.
Last season Charlotte finished 5-13 in C-USA action. The 49ers -7.9 scoring margin ranked last in the conference as did their 35.5 percent three-point defense. Davidson’s efficient perimeter marksmanship plays right into the 49ers biggest defensive shortcoming.
Trends courtesy of Covers.com
- Wildcats are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 vs. Conference USA.
- Wildcats are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss.
- Wildcats are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games following an ATS loss.
- 49ers are 7-19-1 ATS in their last 27 non-conference games.
- 49ers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. Atlantic 10.
- 49ers are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 Tuesday games.