Thomas M. Ryan Center
Friday, February 9, 2018
7:00PM - ESPN2
Stream: WatchESPN app
Radio: 101.5 FM (B101) or iHeart Radio App
13-9, 8-3 in the Atlantic 10
Last season: 17-15, 8-10 in Atlantic 10
RPI: 126 (92.8 expected)
Points - Peyton Aldridge, 20.2
Rebounds - Peyton Aldridge, 6.9
Assists - Jon Axel Gudmundsson, 5.0
Last Five (3-2)
2/6/18 JOES W 91-62
2/3/18 @GW W 87-58
1/31/18 LAS W 84-65
1/28/18 RICH L 66-63
1/14/18 @DAY L 65-64
Roster and Statistics
Bob McKillop, Head Coach (29th Year) - Hofstra '04
Matt McKillop, Assoc. Head Coach - Davidson '06
Ryan Mee, Asst. Coach - Rochester '05
Will Reigel, Asst. Coach - Davidson '12
I'm not quite sure what to make of this Davidson team.
On the one hand, they're 13-9 with an RPI of 126 - a full 120 spots behind your Rhody Rams. They are 4-6 on the road and 1-4 vs. the RPI top-25 as they travel to Kingston to take on solidly top-25 RPI Rhode Island. They were blown out by Appalachian State (xRPI 268), lost to Hawaii (xRPI 199) and to Richmond (xRPI 184) twice. In a game I happened to watch late at night while visiting my in-laws for the holidays, Davidson suffered a 69-68 loss to New Mexico State where they trailed much of the game but came back and had plenty of chances to win - which, at the time, I considered a pretty bad loss and basically wrote them off at that point (or maybe it was the next day, when they lost to host Hawaii and fell to 4-6). The game on Friday will fall into the Quadrant 3 bucket on URI's tournament team sheet, a quadrant in which URI is currently 6-0.
But, on the other hand, it turns out that the New Mexico State team that beat them in Hawaii was actually pretty good, and save for a little blip at the end of January where they lost back-to-back at Dayton and home against Richmond, they've played pretty well since. (Weirdly, the emerging but seemingly still subpar Richmond team accounts for 2 of their 3 losses since leaving Hawaii on Christmas.) While RPI views Rhode Island and Davidson in two entirely different classes, advanced metrics like Kenpom and BPI view the programs more as being of similar quality: Kenpom has URI at 30 and Davidson at 57, while BPI has URI at 27 and Davidson at 39. Davidson comes into the Ryan Center alone in second place in the league, and included in Davidson's current 9-3 run are victories in its latest 3 games by an average of almost 26 points. In addition, Davidson features the potential A10 Player and Rookie of the Year (and surefire 1st team all-conference and all-rookie) in Peyton Aldridge and Boston native Kellan Grady, respectively.
Looking at Davidson in the simplest way possible, when they get off on the offensive end, they win. In their 13 wins, they've averaged 84.6 points, and in their 9 losses, they've averaged 65.4 points. The target for URI might be to hold them 72 points: Davidson has only won 1 game where they scored fewer than 72 points, and they've only lost one game in which they've scored more than 72 points. URI on the season gives 66.7 points per game.
Whether URI is able to hold down Davidson's potentially potent offense will likely come down to battles of strength vs strength in two areas:
The first is URI trying to defend against Davidson's three point barrage. Davidson shoots almost 30 threes per game (good for 7th in the country), and makes 39% (32nd best in the country). URI gives up the second least three point attempts per game in the country, at just a tick over 14, and on those limited attempts teams make 32.2% (45th in the country). This is the first game within the game, to me. If URI is able to do its usual thing and chase Wildcat shooters off the three point line and/or contest the three attempts they inevitably will take, it should handle Davidson rather easily in front of a raucous sellout crowd. On the other hand, if Davidson wins this battle it would make them a real threat to win the game, as well.
Another area where URI has really excelled is in turning over its opponents, but Davidson - as is typical of a McKillop coached team - has taken pretty good care of the basketball. URI causes the eighth most turnovers per game in the country; Davidson turns it over the fifth fewest times per game in the country. This is the second crucial game within the game. If URI can turn Davidson over more than it is accustomed to, it may make it too hard for Davidson to get the number of possessions they need to run up a really high score. If Davidson takes care of the ball as it usually does, limiting their three point looks becomes even more crucial.
Despite the fact that Davidson may have the league's best player and best freshmen (although URI has strong contenders in each category, as well), URI has the superior talent between these two rosters. In addition, Davidson can usually rely on Bob McKillop to give them a tremendous advantage on the sideline each game, but Dan Hurley is proving to be among the very high level coaches currently in the college game. So the way I see it, URI needs to win at least one (and preferably both) of the above mentioned battles in order to take care of business Friday night. It will be much easier for them to do so at home now than in early March, when URI visits Belk Arena for the season finale.