Davidson trading in dog tags for public love

Davidson trading in dog tags for public love

Davidson trading in dog tags for public love
By JASON LOGAN

When Stephen Curry dropped 32 points on the Michigan Wolverines in just his second collegiate game, no one made a peep.

And when Curry scored 24 points and pushed the North Carolina Tar Heels to the brink almost a year later, barely a blip registered on the radar.

But when the slight, sharp shooter put the Davidson Wildcats on his back and nearly knocked off the future national champs in the Elite Eight last March, it forced the sporting world to take notice.

Since that thrilling 59-57 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks March 30, Curry and the Wildcats have become the toast of the college basketball universe. Highlight reels, talk radio and magazines all can't get enough of the little team that could and its lovable leader.

Most people couldn't tell you where the Davidson college campus is located. Nor could they tell you what conference the Wildcats compete in. However, there is one thing people do know. They like Davidson.

The adorable underdogs of last year's national tournament have grown up into a big, smelly, slobbering public favorites. The Wildcats are currently ranked 22nd in the land after notable wins over the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the West Virginia Mountaineers in the past week.

They've already played on national television seven times this season and have at least four more games set for broadcast. Curry's star power is growing and drawing an audience from his peers. Cleveland Cavaliers basketball God LeBron James, who was in Charlotte playing the Bobcats Saturday, sat slack jawed on the sideline after Curry hung 44 points on NC State.

All that sudden attention is sending plenty of Davidson money through the window. Sportsbooks have taken more action on the Wildcats this year than any other season. And with that rush of cash, the numbers for their games are that much sharper.

“Davidson will likely be a hefty favorite in almost all its upcoming games,” says Logans.com oddsmaker Michael Perry, “so I don't think it will be anything special against the spread (this season).”

Davidson was an 8-point neutral site favorite against its state rival and a mere 2.5-point underdog against an overvalued WVU team in New York Tuesday. The Wildcats split covers in those contests and sit at 3-2 ATS on the season after being 20-plus point faves in the previous two games.

They finished with a 23-11-0 record against the spread last season and a 21-9-1 ATS mark in 2006-07.

“The Wildcats remind me of Gonzaga about five or six years ago,” says Perry.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs, who fell to the Wildcats in last year's tourney, have evolved from their mid-major beginnings in the West Coast Conference into a perennial powerhouse and favorite to crack the Final Four this March.

With every game-winning shot and remarkable scoring performance, Curry lifts his team close to that bar. And it's not just the junior guard doing the deed for Davidson. Backcourt mate Max Paulhus Gosselin is its shutdown defender on the perimeter and workhorse forward Andrew Lovedale is a walking double-double.

The Wildcats are a very good team in a very stinky league. The Southern's next best programs are South Division rivals the College of Charleston Cougars and the Chattanooga Mocs, who Davidson faces at home Saturday night.

Much like the Wildcats, the Mocs have cut their teeth with a tough non-conference schedule that featured road games against the Tennessee Volunteers, Memphis Tigers, USC Trojans and Missouri Tigers. Chattanooga lost all four contests and has just one win, a blowout of sub-division rival Tennessee Temple, on the year.

But the Mocs' season begins Saturday. Head coach John Shulman has returned three starters and his two top scorers, guard Stephen McDowell and forward Nicchaeus Doaks. Chattanooga boasts a senior-rich roster and has had an extended break over finals to prepare for Curry and Davidson.

Early line projections have the Wildcats as near 20-point home favorites Saturday. The official number will be released sometime Friday.

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