The Massachusetts Minutemen host the Davidson Wildcats on Wednesday at 7PM. The Minutemen will be playing their second home A-10 game, the first being a 69-55 loss to St. Bonaventure. After winning two straight road games, against La Salle and George Mason, UMass starts a two game home stand that kicks off with the Wildcats. What chance does UMass have against Davidson? Let's find out.
Record: 11-3 (2-1)
The Wildcats have an impressive record and at one point had one seven games in row. Their three losses have been to teams that were ranked at the time: #6 North Carolina , #3 Virginia , and #20 VCU. Their nine non-conference wins were against less-than-impressive mid-major opponents. In A-10 play they have beaten Richmond and St. Louis, both at home.
Players to watch:
Five players for Davidson score in double figures and they are led by two guards Jack Gibbs and Tyler Kalinoski. Gibbs is a do it all kind of player as he leads the team in scoring, assists, and steals with 16.6, 5.1, and 1.6 respectively. The 5-11 sophomore also grabs 4.4 boards while shooting 54 percent from the field. Shutting him down will obviously be one of the keys to the game. Kalinoski is a 6-4 senior guard and scores 16.4 points per game. He is also the Wildcats leading rebounders with 6.2 per game and also adds in 3.9 assists. These two create quite the backcourt and will prove trouble for the Minutemen all game.
Davidson is arguably one of the best offensives in the nation. They average 84.6 points per game which is second in the nation. They can also shoot the ball as good as anyone as their 28th ranked 48 percent field goal percentage indicates. The Wildcats have scored over 80 points nine times this season and have won all of those games. When they have scored 79 or less they are just 2-3. Holding the Wildcats below 80 will be priority one for UMass to win.
The Minutemen will have the size advantage as Davidson doesn't have a center that can matchup with Cady Lalanne. Oskar Michelson is their best option at 6-9 but he's just 210 pounds and is a freshman. Lalanne should be able to manhandle whatever the Wildcats through at him down low. He will most likely draw double teams so his passing skills out of the post will be vital. UMass also could try the four guard lineup that they have toyed with since at least one of the big men gets into foul trouble every game. While that lineup hasn't been the most successful it may be put to the test here.
Yes Davidson has the better record but they have yet to get a win against a good team. I just don't see them being able to handle Maxie Esho and Lalanne down low. Yes the Wildcats are 29th in the country in rebounding but against the Minutemen frontcourt. It will be a close one and a shootout as UMass does indeed make it three wins in a row, winning 82-76 as UMass pulls away at the end after free throws. Cady Lalanne goes for a double-double and Esho probalby gets close as well. Derrick Gordon will have his hand full guarding Gibbs and Donte Clark finally has his breakout game as a starter.