Friday, March 03, 2006

The Cinderella meets the Empire

It is no secret around the Southern Conference that Davidson always has a target on its back. Whether they are 16-0 or 10-5, everyone wants to beat the Wildcats in the Southern Conference tournament.

This year that task will fall to the Citadel Bulldogs. Threatening to finish their season winless in the conference, The Cid played a magnificent game against Wofford last week and won on a last second come-from-behind block by J'Mel Everhart to prevent the Terrier's GW layup.

Now, nearly a week later, lightning has struck twice. The Bulldogs upset the 6th seeded Furman Paladins yesterday, earning them a spot in today's nightcap against Davidson. The Bulldogs had not won a first-round game since 2002, when they beat VMI. That year they proceeded to lose to Davidson in the second round, who went on to win the Tournament Championship.

While Davidson will surely be out to establish themselves as the premier Southern Conference squad, they will have to contend with a Bulldog team that is brimming with self-confidence. The Wildcats have struggled with identity and expectation all season and they could be nipped by a Citadel squad that doesn't care about a 1-15 record. The Tournament marks a new season, and the Bulldogs are undefeated.

In other action in the Tournament yesterday, Appalachian State won a 1-point nailbiter over Wofford, while UNC-Greensboro rolled past Western Carolina. Davidson had lost at least one game to every team that lost today, and is undefeated against the day's victors.

Looking back to Davidson's close victory at The Citadel in February, the Wildcats will need to limit the looks of Everhart and Donny McClendon. Both players are lightning fast and if Everhart hit his shots in the paint combined with McClendon's threes, Davidson will be in trouble. The Wildcats should look to test the Citadel's mediocre frontcourt that got into foul trouble in both Davidson wins this season. If Johnson and Sander can control the paint, and Morton and Winters can slow down the Citadel offense, Davidson should come away with a victory. Once again, the X-factors will lie in Davidson's ability to shoot the outside shot on an unfamiliar basket and the effectiveness of the Corps. It will be difficult for any Davidson crowd to outcheer several thousand military students so every fan in red shouldn't hesitate to make their voice heard.

As the radio announcers were making their concluding remarks after the game tonight, the head analyst noted that "it is very hard to beat a team three times in one season. It doesn't matter who it is." Davidson has beaten the Bulldogs twice this season, and they will need to bring the house to make it thrice.

Coverage will begin immediately following the conclusion of the Elon-UNC-Greensboro game around 8 o clock.

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