The Davidson Wildcats are one game away from winning the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship in their first season in the league.
After an emphatic 82-55 victory Thursday against preseason favorite Virginia Commonwealth at Belk Arena, the Wildcats (22-6, 13-4) are tied for first place in the league with Dayton (23-6, 13-4) and – with a victory Saturday at Duquesne – can win the title and claim the top-seed in next week’s Atlantic 10 tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Here’s what the Wildcats have in front of them as March Madness gets into full swing this weekend:
One more for the title
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Davidson has won eight straight games and can clinch the regular-season crown in Pittsburgh against Duquesne (11-17, 6-11), a team the Wildcats beat by 26 points at Belk Arena in January. The Dukes, however, have won three of their past four games, including two in a row at home. Davidson can also claim the crown if Dayton loses Saturday at La Salle. The Wildcats own the tiebreaker against the Flyers, as well as third-place Rhode Island (20-8, 12-5).
Whatever the outcome of Saturday’s games, the Wildcats will be one of the top two seeds next week in Brooklyn. That means they’ve earned a double-bye and will play at either noon or 6:30 p.m. in Friday’s quarterfinals. The championship game is Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS (WBTV, channel 3).
The Wildcats’ victory against VCU enhanced their chances at gaining an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament (if they don’t claim the A-10’s automatic bid by winning the league tournament). The Wildcats’ Ratings Percentage Index, which is as high as 30, will certainly improve after the Rams game. The main stumbling block for the Wildcats is a relatively weak strength of schedule (ranked 131st). But a victory against Duquesne and at least one in Brooklyn might be enough. On Friday, ESPN “Bracketologist” Joe Lunardi had the Wildcats in the tournament as an 11th seed, while CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm still had Davidson as one of the “first four teams out” of the tournament.
“It makes a big statement. (Beating VCU) was a huge win for the program, the team, the school. It’ll be a big-time win for (our chances) for the NCAA tournament.” – Davidson senior guard Tyler Kalinoski.
Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14