Team Profile: 2008 BracketBuster Preview: Davidson at Winthrop

by Rick Dimon | February 19th, 2008

Two conference leaders will collide when the Davidson Wildcats visit the Winthrop Eagles in an ESPN2 BracketBuster matchup on Friday night.

Only one team, however, is in the mix for an at-large NCAA Tournament berth. Davidson is now a perfect 18-0 in the Southern Conference after defeating UNC-Greensboro at home on Tuesday in another nationally-televised showdown on ESPN2. With an unblemished league record, just a few non-conference wins would have made Davidson a lock for the Big Dance. Instead, the Wildcats fell painfully short in early-season games against North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, and N.C.State. A win at Winthrop would be nothing that any of those victories would have been, but the ‘Cats absolutely need it to keep any at-large aspirations alive.

As of Tuesday night, Winthrop is 8-3 in the Big South and holds a one-half game lead over UNC-Asheville. The Eagles scored victories over two ACC opponents—Georgia Tech and Miami—earlier in the year, but neither of those wins looks especially extraordinary at the moment. Three losses in conference play necessitate a near-perfect non-conference resume in order to yield a realistic at-large shot, but Winthrop failed to capitalize on any of their other opportunities prior to Big South play. The Eagles dropped contests at Baylor, at West Virginia, and at Mississippi, not to mention three other setbacks near the beginning of the season. Winthrop clearly has to triumph in the Big South Conference Tournament in order to Dance for the fourth year in-a-row.

Key Matchup: Davidson SG Stephen Curry vs. Winthrop SG Michael Jenkins
Without question, Davidson star sophomore Stephen Curry will be the best player on the floor on Friday night.

Winthrop’s senior leader, Michael Jenkins, will have to do his best to keep up with the Wildcat sharpshooter and match him point for point. He has not been able to do that so far this season. Jenkins’ points-per-game average is down from 14.8 last season to 13.9 this year and his percentages from both the field and from beyond the arc have declined considerably without former backcourt mate Torrell Martin to alleviate defensive pressure.

Curry, meanwhile, is drawing all kinds of national attention thanks to his 25.6 points-per-game average. Owning one of the quickest releases in college basketball, Curry is lighting things up to the tune of a 48.4 shooting percentage, including 42.2 percent from downtown.

This has to be considered the key matchup, even though the two guards will most likely not be guarding each other. Winthrop will use a whole host of players—perhaps at the same time!—in an attempt to contain Curry, while Davidson will rely on defensive-stopper Max Paulhus-Gosselin to put out any fire if Jenkins gets hot. Jenkins poured in a game-high 25 points in last year’s BracketBuster win at Missouri State, and the Eagles need a similar performance out of him this time around.

Prediction: Davidson 75, Winthrop 68
The Eagles have not lost inside Winthrop Coliseum since falling to Missouri State back in November. The home-court advantage should allow Winthrop to keep this game close throughout the evening, but the bottom line is that Davidson is the better team and has the best player in Curry.

One potentially dire problem for the Eagles is if they choose to key in on Curry—and they almost have to—they will inevitably get burned by a handful of capable Wildcat supporting cast members. Senior point guard Jason Richards, who dishes out 8.1 assists per outing, can fill it up from long range and also gets to the basket with surprising ease, especially via Davidson’s lethal fast-break. Boris Meno, Thomas Sander, and Andrew Lovedale form an athletic, versatile trio down low and should get plenty of good looks under the basket if Curry, Richards, and Will Archambault are hot from the outside.

While Jenkins could be the key for Winthrop, senior guard Chris Gaynor and senior forward Taj McCullough could be the x-factors. Gaynor, sweet shooting stroke and all, will have to be dialed in from long range in order to take some heat off Jenkins, and McCullough must play—and rebound—bigger than his 6-7 height suggests if the Eagles hope to pull off the minor upset.

The bet here is that Curry and company are too good to let that happen.

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46 Responses to “2008 BracketBuster Preview: Davidson at Winthrop”  

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  1. joe Says:

    Winthrop is a better team than Davidson. Davidson will need a good performance to upset the eagles.

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  2. Rick Says:

    Winthrop is not as good as Davidson. Never has been this season, and certainly the Eagles are not right now. This would be a 20-point margin if played at Davidson.

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  3. David Mihm Says:

    So, I am not sure I agree with Rick completely on this one. Davidson IS the better team, but I’m not sure the margin will be that great. I couldn’t find the Vegas odds posted anywhere this morning, but Winthrop is still awfully good, and I’d think the line might be Davidson by only three or four points…

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  4. Rick Says:

    I said spread would be 20 AT Davidson and I stand by that. The Wildcats consistently drub SoCon teams by that much at home, and Winthrop is no better than the UNCGs and GaSos of the world.

    At Winthrop I say 7. I bet the Vegas spread will be 5.

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  5. John Says:

    Winthrop will win this game. They are awfully tough at home. Other than Curry, i’m not sure who else can replace his scoring if he’s having a bad night. It’s funny cause on the telecast of the N.C.-Greensboro-Davidson game the other night, Doug Gottlieb said ”Davidson is like last year’s Winthrop.” Well……….we’ll find out. I say final score is Winthrop 71, Davidson 66.

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  6. Mike Says:

    John you obviously have not seen Davidson play this year. You must be joking when you say Davidson has nobody who can fill in for Steph if he has a bad scoring night. Davidson actually has 3 other MAJOR scoring threats in ,Thomas Sander who is a banger in the post, Jason Richards, who can pass and score with most point guards in the nation, and Will Archambault who 2 games ago went for 28 points in Belk Arena. Of course this is all assuming that there might be a chance that Steph has a bad night which is highly unlikely.

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  7. John Says:

    @ Mike. You must be a Davidson fan. How can I see Davidson when they are on ESPN2 once? I think Curry is a star, but let’s be honest: Other than N.C.-Greensboro and Georgia Southern, the Southern Conference is lousy. I’m sick of hearing about how close they played North Carolina, Duke, UCLA and N.C. State. They LOST all of those games. An elite mid-major team win s at least one of those games. They led UCLA 30-12. Close the deal. I’m not saying that they’re not good. But Butler, Drake, VCU, South Alabama, Kent State, Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga(a team that I despise more than Davidson) are better. And Akron, George Mason(who beat Kansas State, and Oral Roberts are Davidson’s equal. Mike, let me tell you something: Since you are obviously a first-time visitor, welcome and I love mid-major basketball. I’m going to watch every single second of BracketBusters, Championship Week and the NCAA Tournament. I know mid-majors about as well as anyone on here. This is no insult to Davidson, it’s just reality. And isn’t Archeambault a bench guy? I bet you’re wondering who I root for. Well…………..let’s just say i’ve been happy after the last 2 NCAA’s have been over(yup Florida.)

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  8. Markis Says:

    Steph is obviously the main scoring option on the Davidson team. The comment that Davidson has three scorers is ridiculous. I think what you meant to say is that Davidson has three scorers on a given night. Winthrop’s problem for tomorrow is that they have no idea which three it will be. Thomas Sander is a force down low and there is no doubt about that, not to mention the toughest defender in the SoCon. Jason Richards, while leading the nation in assists, can fill it up when he wants/needs to. Then you got the other shooters in Bryant Barr and Will Archambault, these guys can flat out shoot the rock. They dont have huge numbers because they share minutes. Archambault had 28 two games ago while as a freshman, Barr knocked down seven threes in one game. Lastly, Junior Andrew Lovedale and Senior Boris Meno have refined their offense game over the off-season and are scoring threats, especially improved is Lovedale.

    I will admit it, Winthrop was great last year, they had a phenomenal season, but that was last year. Gotleib did say Davidson was trying to be this years Winthrop, and that is fine, but one thing is for sure and that is that Winthrop is not last year Winthrop. In fact, Winthrop is not even last years Davidson team.

    18-0 in the SoCon vs a 3 loss Big South team. Take away the team names, the stats, all of it, who you taking? Lets get real here.

    40-2 over the last 42 at home for Winthrop, none of those 42 vs. Steph Curry.

    Cats 74, Winthrop 64

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  9. kyle Says:

    Davidson fans are the most arrogant I have ever seen.. I dare you to not respect Winthrop in their own house. You will get owned. Davidson is 1-4 when scoring less than 70 points, Winthrop only gives up 54 points a game. Davidson has not beat anyone. There is no argument here. Davidson has a great team, Winthrop has a pretty good team, but Winthrop is the home team, Davidson is not. Winthrop by 5 points or more.

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  10. John Says:

    @ Ace. I don’t get Raycom or MASN. I saw the North Carolina game and part of the Duke game. The UCLA game was not on a channel I get.

    @ Markis. While Winthrop is not as good as they were last year, they are going to be quite hungry to prove they can play on Davidson’s level. Is Curry as good as Eric Maynor from VCU? He literally put them in the tournament(see last year’s CAA final vs George Mason) and once he got there he beat the storied Blue Devils of Duke on a last-second shot. Is Sander as good as Will Thomas of George Mason, who was a key to their Final Four run? I’m not saying Davidson’s not good, but let’s see them step it up in the tournament. One other thing:

    That game the other night: There was a great player on the floor for N.C.-Greensboro, whether we want to admit it or not.

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  11. Ace Says:

    @kyle “I dare you to not respect Winthrop in their own house.”

    Granted Winthrop beat two ACC teams this season on the road, exactly who have they beat at home? Looks to me like these home wins this season are over below average conference opponents. That doesn’t exactly lend itself to the argument of a huge home court advantage. Great you beat crappy teams in your conference at home (and lost to Missouri State), you haven’t had to defend your home court against an actual opponent. Wait till tomorrow, you’ll then see what its like have a good team on your home court. You can start another dominating home winning streak against powerhouse Charleston Southern on Feb 26th.

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  12. Ace Says:

    @ John “That game the other night: There was a great player on the floor for N.C.-Greensboro, whether we want to admit it or not.”

    Kyle Hines is a great player with NBA written all over him. So is Steph Curry. The game was on ESPN2 for the soul purpose of showing the country Hines vs. Curry, both mid-major royalty. I think it was a little convenient that Curry got ESPN2 exposure right before the ESPN2 bracketbuster game. ESPN was thinking ahead. A lot of viewer got hooked on Curry after seeing his performance against UNC-G and will likely now tune in to see two great mid-major teams battle it out.

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  13. joe Says:

    Here’s the deal folks. Davidson has a good team, no question. But Davidson has never beaten anyone. They never beat a team in the top 100 of the RPI last year, and didn’t beat a BCS team. They haven’t done it this year unless you count Georgia Southern. Winthrop would have waxed the floor with them last year, and this year, while Winthrop is not as good as last year, can still beat the big boys, which Davidson has still not proven they can do. Winthrop is the premier mid-major in the South, and will continue to be. Davidson has this season as their shot at winning something significant, which they have failed to do so far. Winthrop, even after losing some great players, still picked up good wins in the OOC, which Davidson couldn’t do. Davidson has about a month left to pick up a good win, which is in the tournament. If they don’t, it’s back to mediocrity after Richards and others leave this year.

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  14. John Says:

    @ Ace. For once, I agree with you. The only good thing about Davidson and N.C. Greensboro is that Hines and Curry stay all 4 years, whereas Love, Beasley, Mayo, Gordon and Singler will leave after this one year. They don’t understand what a privilege it is to stay and actually get an education, continue the long-standing rivalries and forever be remembered as someone who made a difference on the basketball court.

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  15. joe Says:

    Huh, read the article again, this guy is obviously a davidson homer. He fails to mention Winthrop has won bigger games than Davy, while noting WU’s losses to Miss, and WV, both better teams than WESTERN MICHIGAN AND UNC-CHARLOTTE, who Davy lost to.

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  16. scott Says:

    John-since you’re a Gator fan- consider asking Billy Donovan what he thinks of Davidson and Bob McKillop. The last time Donovan coached against Davidson (while at Marshall) he had an NBA caliber point guard in Jason Williams and lost by 52.

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  17. David Mihm Says:

    This is the second time in a week that I have had to do some significant comment moderation. Let me say again that there is no place for personal attacks anywhere on this website. We love objective analysis, and a little subjective banter about one’s favorite team or nemesis is certainly appropriate.

    But it’s not appropriate to ridicule someone for expressing an opinion, no matter how much you disagree with it. Instead, use statistics or previous performances like Markis, Joe, and Kyle have done above if you would like to espouse a different point of view.

    I am considering closing all comments on this site if this kind of thing happens again, and I would really not like to do that, because I know how much we all enjoy talking hoops with other fans.

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  18. Dex Says:

    I think it is important to mention that Davidson has blown out nearly every team they’ve played in conference. Only Elon has come close and Davidson beat Ga. Southern by 25 points. It doesn’t matter that none of the teams that they’ve beaten are great because they’ve beaten all of those teams so badly. The fact that they nearly beat UCLA, Duke, and UNC is impressive. I agree that there are several mid-majors that are probably better than Davidson, but that is not the question here. What matters is that they are better than Winthrop. And if they beat Winthrop and somehow lose in the SoCon tourney, they should be an at-large.

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  19. John Says:

    @ Dex. I know they played North Carolina, Duke, UCLA and N.C. State(lost 66-65 to them) close, but shouldn’t they have to beat at least one of those teams to merit consideration? I know the Southern Conference is lousy(except for Georgia Southern and N.C. Greensboro and perhaps Appalachian State), but when you get 4 opportunities for a marquee non-conference win, and considering they were up 30-12 at UCLA, I would expect them to win that game. I think the ”good loss” concept should be eliminated. It’s still a loss.

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  20. Rick Says:

    Davidson needs to win the SoCon Tournament to get a bid even if it wins tonight against Winthrop. Such is the nature of the SoCon.

    Keep in mind that, as usual, people are only looking at Davidson’s resume as it is right now, and even now they are are only just barely on the bubble. In order to be considered for an at-large, they have to lose in the SoCon Tournament, and any loss there would be a terrible one by NCAA standards and would completely destroy their resume.

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  21. Mike Says:

    @ Joe. Wow so are UNC-Ashville (without Kenny George) and Coastal Carolina better than Western Mich. and Charlotte? I highly doubt it

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  22. Dex Says:

    They probably should have won one of those games, but most teams wouldn’t beat those teams (excluding NC State). I think if they would’ve played teams like maybe Vanderbilt or Marquette or teams that are good but not the best, I would say that it wouldn’t matter that they nearly beat those teams. But they are 3 of the best in the nation. Davidson is obviously not good enough to beat those teams, but most others that will be in the NCAA tournament aren’t either. I think that it was a mistake to schedule those teams. They should have scheduled good teams that they could beat and get credit for beating them. All of that aside, I don’t know how you can ignore a team that doesn’t lose a single regular season conference game, and is 20-6 overall (at the moment). I know that they probably won’t get an at-large bid if they lose in the SoCon tourney, but they should.

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  23. Rick Says:


    Plain and simple it was not a mistake to schedule those teams. If, as you say, Davidson should have scheduled the best teams that it had a chance of beating, then their scheduling was flawless.

    Duke – once a #2 team in the nation. Davidson played them neck-and-neck.

    UCLA – once #1 in the nation. Davidson led by 18.

    UNC – once #1 in the nation. Davidson was tied in the final two minutes.

    Perhaps I am just confused as to what you refer to as a team that Davidson “can” beat.

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  24. Dex Says:

    @ Rick, sorry, I thought I was pretty clear but I guess not. Everyone expected these teams to be in the top ten in the nation, right. I think that Davidson should have scheduled teams that were supposed to be good, but that they had a much better chance at beating. I know that all of their games agaist Duke, UNC, and UCLA were close, but they would have had a much better chance against many other good teams (I just gave Marquette or Vandy as examples). I don’t think that would have been flawless scheduling, I think it would have been smart scheduling. They are obviously not getting any credit for losing close games to the teams that they did play.

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  25. Dex Says:

    Duke, UNC, and UCLA are powers nearly every single year. To schedule them all in the same year just seems crazy to me.

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  26. Rick Says:


    They weren’t planning on getting any credit for losing close games. They also weren’t planning on losing. I just don’t understand how I am not being clear. Davidson scheduled the best teams that it felt it had a chance of beating. Why would you EVER want to play Marquette or Vandy when you can play Duke, UNC, and UCLA??????

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  27. Dex Says:

    Because the chances of beating those teams is much better and you still get a lot of credit for beating those teams. I know they weren’t planning on losing, but come on, it just seems like they were a little to overconfident. They would have good wins on their resume instead of nothing.

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  28. Rick Says:

    It may be nothing to you – but not to me, and not the the committee.

    I also don’t understand how you consider it a foregone conclusion that Davidson would have won AT Marquette and AT Vanderbilt.

    I would MUCH rather have played Duke on a neutral court than any team like that on the road, especially considering how bad Duke was supposed to be coming into the season.

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  29. Dr Bob Says:

    the line on the game is Davidson by 3 1/2 points.

    I’m a profressional handicapper and my ratings would favor Davidson by 2 1/2 points at Winthrop using all games for each team. Davidson has played well against good teams, but Winthrop has also played better when they’ve faced better competition and my math only favors Davidson by 1 point in this game using only games for both teams against quality opponents (i.e. NIT level or higher). Davidson is the better team but this game could go either way.

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  30. Dex Says:

    Rick, Ok, go ahead and schedule Duke since they weren’t supposed to be very good. But, in my opinion, they should not have scheduled the Heels or Bruins. They had other opportunities to get ok wins (NC St. and Charlotte) but failed to do so. But besides those 5 teams, they’ve played no one that would earn them any real respect. If I had scheduled their games I would have tried to schedule teams like Clemson, Syracuse, Louisville, Vandy, Marquette, Florida, Oklahoma, etc. (teams that were supposed to be good but not great). I think that it would have given them more of an opportunity to get 1 or 2 quality wins, rather than taking their chances against two of the best teams in the nation. Davidson must have thought that they could beat them, and I think it’s great that they were confident, but confidence only goes so far.

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  31. Jonathan Wall Says:

    @ Dr. Bob:
    WOW. If this is the real Dr. Bob, let me be the first sir to congratulate you on some of the most ridiculous winning percentages I’ve ever seen. You won me some serious cash when I was betting on sports. Thanks!

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  32. Pat Says:

    @Dex – Interesting point. I think you need to remember that it takes two schools to schedule a game. Davidson regularly tries to schedule those types of games (mid-level programs from major conferences), but teams such as those will typically not schedule a game against us. What do they have to gain in playing Davidson? Missouri tried it and lost. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you completely that I think Davidson should play the types of programs you reference, the problem is that they will not play us.

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  33. John Says:

    Guys, I think that Davidson was correct in playing the schedule that they did considering they led UCLA 30-12 in the 1st half and were in the other games because look at Drexel last year. Wins at Syracuse, at Creighton(in Omaha during BracketBusters) and 11 other road wins, yet still not enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament. Plus, look at what Oklahoma did. They invited Stephen F. Austin to the Lloyd Noble Center and lost. We would all agree that the Lumberjacks, though are one of the premier mid-majors this year at 21-3. You just never know. I think that Davidson would lose by 10 @ Florida, by 5 on a neutral court and by 2 at home. Finally, I think the NCAA should mandate that somehow a team you know will dominate a conference like Davidson should play a home-and-home with a mid-level power conference team(Baylor, for example.)

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  34. Rick Says:

    John – Davidson would not lose to Florida by 2 at home, nor would the Wildcats lose by any other amount. I am certain they would win by at least 8 and probably well into double digits.

    Dex – You last comment made sense but I still could not disagree more strongly

    Pat – Thank you.

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  35. John Says:

    @ Rick. I simply doubt that because other than Curry, the next best player on the court is Calathes and you could argue Speights is 3rd because of the way he developed. I only brought Florida up because Dex used us as an example, but I think we should end it right here because barring something freaky Davidson and Florida won’t be playing anytime soon.

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  36. Rick Says:

    John – so are you changing this to a neutral-court situation?? Because all you said above was about the players and nothing about home-court advantage.

    I think Florida might win at home. I know for certainty that Davidson would roll at home.

    And Curry is BY FAR the best player on the court and Richards is easily 3rd, so….

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  37. John Says:

    @ Rick. I am trying to convince you to give us some credit for the season we are having, and as I said, I only brought Florida up due to Dex using us an example in his scheduling point before. You would agree that Calathes is 2nd. It’s not fair to say that Davidson ”would roll at home” simply because we are 2-time defending National Champions. It’s not every day you lose your top 6 scorers from back-to-back National Championship teams and still win 20 games so far(soft non-league schedule or not.) Saying that Davidson ”would roll at home” is, I don’t want to say a lack of respect, but not giving us the credit we deserve. If they couldn’t beat N.C. State, who we are better than, how can they beat us?(no matter where the venue is.)

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  38. Dex Says:

    Let’s not get into the X school vs. Florida again, there’s no point. I thought about that Pat, and that’s a good point. I just think UCLA and UNC weren’t the best choices. But if Davidson had beaten NC St., Charlotte, and W. Michigan like they should have, it probably wouldn’t be that important that they lost all of their big games.

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  39. Dr Bob Says:

    It is the real Dr. Bob and thanks for the nice words.

    I enjoy the site, but not sure my Cal Bears should be included in the field right now – although you having them in there gives me hope.

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  40. John Says:

    @ Dex. You are 100% correct. I was merely pointing out the facts.

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  41. Dex Says:

    John, I think it’s great that you defend the Gators no matter what. I’m the same way with IU. Bad news about Kelvin (although he’s made some bad decisions, he’s a heck of coach). I was really pumped up after the wins vs. Purdue and Michigan St. If they win at Flint then I think their 2 losses vs. Wisconsin won’t matter too much.

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  42. Rick Says:


    Let’s be honest, the only person refusing to give respect here is you. While I don’t think Florida is very good, I respect them enough to say they would probably beat a strong Davidson team at home.

    You on the other hand, virtually guaranteed Florida would win at Davidson – even predicted the exact margin of victory my god! That’s not only lack or respect, it’s ignorance stemming from the fact that you have not even seen Davidson play this season (or more likely ever).

    I have seen Florida play only a few times this year and you haven’t even made an attempt to see Davidson once, therefore I think it’s obvious neither one of us is going to come around to the other side on this nor do we know enough about each other’s team of interest to make this a relevant discussion.

    If you insist on keeping this up, just please don’t come to me crying about a lack of respect when it’s oozing clear as day on your end.

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  43. John Says:

    @ Rick. I saw Davidson play North Carolina this year, a half of the Duke game, the N.C.-Greensboro game, the last 2 Southern Conference finals, so I think i’m more than qualified to speak about them. It’s not so much the team as it is the fact that you won’t acknowledge what everyone in the SEC does: That Calathes is a star, and in 2 years will be the best point guard in the conference. You know something Rick: I would love to see the Gators go down to Belk Arena, not just this year, but the next 5 as well. Then, they have their chance to beat a good team, and we could settle this once and for all. You know who my ”team of interest” is. They ran the games @ Alabama, @ Tennessee and vs Kentucky on ESPNU. Maybe you should have watched those(just a suggestion.) I’d love to know who you root for.

    @ Dex. Thank you. All I can say on the Sampson front is that he was stupid for what he did, knowing he had a history. I just hope this doesn’t effect their play because they do have Final Four talent. I’m glad D.J. White finally got a wing man to play with, after all those years he carried the team. I heard that they put a clause in his contract saying they can’t fire him. That wasn’t smart. They should have kept Mike Davis. I wonder if IU fans remember he got to a National Championship Game.

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  44. Rick Says:


    Don’t say yesterday “How can I watch Davidson play when they are never on TV?” and then today flip-flop and say that you watch Davidson every single second they are on TV. I mean it’s not hard to decide. Either you watch Davidson or you don’t. Which is it?

    How many times do I have to tell you who I root for before it registers in your head? For the seventh time I root for Davidson and Georgia Tech. Don’t ask me again.

    Please stop putting words in peoples’ mouths. That’s not what this board is for. I never disrespected Calethes or anyone else on Florida. Like I said, I will withhold further judgment on Florida because I admit I haven’t seen them a ton. I would appreciate it if you did the same for both Davidson and every other team in the nation outside of Gainesville.

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  45. Dex Says:

    @ John, I agree with everything that you said about IU except Mike Davis. He got them to the championship game, but that was Bobby’s team. Maybe it’s just that I can’t stand him, but I don’t agree that they should have kept Davis (I was so happy to see that UAB didn’t beat Memphis, and that goes for Vaden too). I watched nearly every game that IU played while Davis was the coach, and he was not a good coach. I will say that he was a very good recruiter (talents like D.J., Vaden, and several others). But I watched them waste that talent because of poor coaching.

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  46. John Says:

    @ I said I watch Davidson when they were on ESPN or ESPN2. Ace said that I should watch them on MASN or RAYCOM. I don’t get those channels. I see enough college basketball to know what I am talking about. Go to the George Mason at Ohio BracketBusters and see what Jonathan Wall thought of my ”basketball knowledge.” I’m done with this.

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