The Davidson men’s basketball team won’t be sneaking up on anyone this season in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Last year the Wildcats, coming from the Southern Conference, were picked to finish 12th in its first season in the 14-team Atlantic 10. But Davidson won the regular-season title at 14-4 and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
Davidson, with six first-place votes, was picked to finish third by coaches and selected media personnel on Tuesday at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn venue that will host the conference tournament again in March.
“A validation of Davidson in the Atlantic 10,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said of the preseason ranking.
Dayton received 12 first-place votes and was pegged for first. Rhode Island had eight first-place votes and was picked for second.
“We are placed higher. It is just an affirmation about what we did last year,” said McKillop, in his 26th season at the Wildcats’ coach. “The mark of any program is to be consistent. We have a long way to go. To achieve continued success is a challenge.”
Davidson junior guard Jack Gibbs was a preseason all-conference first-team pick. Senior guard Brian Sullivan was chosen to the second team.
Dayton coach Archie Miller, a former guard at N.C. State, said he is wary of the Wildcats.
“They are a great addition to the conference,” said Miller, whose team lost 77-60 at Davidson last season. “I think that their players are very undervalued being from the conference they came from. They are not going to sneak up on anyone anytime soon.”
Miller’s Flyers have advanced to the NCAA tournament the past two seasons.
“He has a culture that he has created,” McKillop said of Miller. “They have won in challenging ways. They are a team that is very, very well-coached.”
Davidson begins its regular season Nov. 14 at home against Central Florida. The Wildcats’ first conference game is Jan. 2 at St. Bonaventure.
“Consistency of excellence,” McKillop said of the Atlantic 10. “You talk about players, you talk about coaches. ...We could not be more pleased to be in the Atlantic 10.”
The Wildcats’ top returning players are Gibbs, who averaged 16.2 points last season; Sullivan (3.9 assists); and Jordan Barham (6.2 rebounds).
Atlantic 10 poll
Basketball preseason predictions of coaches and selected media, with first-place votes in parentheses and total points:
1. Dayton (12)
2. Rhode Island (8)
3. Davidson (6)
4. G. Washington (1)
5. Va. Commonwealth
7. Saint Joseph’s
8. St. Bonaventure
9. La Salle
12. St. Louis
13. George Mason