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A dynamite backcourt matchup headlines a marquee matchup Saturday when Northeastern hosts Davidson at Matthews Arena.
Who: Davidson Wildcats (3-5) at Northeastern Huskies (5-4)
When: Saturday, Dec. 7, 4 p.m. ET
Where: Matthews Arena; Boston, Mass.
Watch: LIVE on FloHoops
The Huskies triple threat of Jordan Roland, Boland Brace and freshman phenom Tyson Walker square off with Davidson’s preseason first team All-Atlantic 10 duo, Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gundmundsson.
Returning Grady and Gundmundsson after both tested the NBA draft waters propelled the Wildcats’ preseason expectations, landing Davidson second in the A-10’s preseason poll. The start to the season has been rocky, though, most recently including a 1-2 finish at the Orlando Invitational with losses to Marquette and Temple.
Despite the ups-and-downs, Davidson remains a KenPom.com top 100 team at No. 85. Northeastern has a prime opportunity to score its second top 100 win of the non-conference season, joining the season-opening defeat of Harvard.
Davidson Wildcats At A Glance
The 2019-20 season marks the 30-year anniversary of Bob McKillop’s tenure as Davidson head coach. It’s been a remarkable career with nine NCAA Tournament appearances, including the Steph Curry-led Elite Eight run of 2008.
Davidson’s success in the late 2000s fueled the program’s move from the Southern Conference to the Atlantic 10, where the Wildcats have fast established themselves as yearly contenders -- usually with one of the conference’s leading scorers setting the tone.
Names To Know
Kellan Grady follows in the line of explosive Davidson scoring guards, with Curry as the benchmark and Jack Gibbs recently taking up the mantle. Fellow veteran Jon Axel Gundmundsson has started slow in 2019-20 after putting up more than 16 points per game a season, now averaging just below 11.
Gundmundsson is leading the team in rebounds, however, and is just behind Grady for the team lead in assists. The duo sets the tone on the perimeter, with Luka Brajkovic manning the interior.
Carter Collins has seen an early uptick in his offensive production to 2019-20, despite not yet finding the mark consistently from 3-point range. Once he does, Davidson will have a dangerous core of four players who can pace scoring on any night.
Bob McKillop was on the early wave of head coaches to embrace an analytical offensive approach; having a generational shooter like Curry certainly helped the cause.
Still, a decade later, Davidson plays an uptempo, fluid style with a green light for shooters behind the 3-point line. The Wildcats rank 43rd in the nation for distribution of 3-point attempts in the offense, but their most consistent shooter -- Luke Frampton -- is out with injury.
Despite a disappointing 33.2 percent average from deep as a team, Davidson has remained one of the top 56-most efficient offenses in the country in terms of adjusted efficiency. The Wildcats will go deep into the shot clock -- their average possession lasts almost 19 seconds -- and search for the best available look rather than the first.
Davidson’s lack of a shot-blocking threat on defense leaves the Wildcats vulnerable to giving up points in the paint. Davidson opponents on the season have shot 53 percent from inside the 3-point line -- a figure that bodes well for Northeastern’s capable slashers on the perimeter.
The Wildcats are 1-4 on the campaign when allowing an opponent to score 71 points or more. Northeastern comes in averaging 74.7 per game.
Northeastern Huskies At A Glance
Last year’s CAA representative in the NCAA Tournament, Northeastern looks like it will have the firepower to make another push for March later in the season.
Jordan Roland’s emergence as one of the most electrifying scorers in college basketball has paced the Huskies, but Bill Coen’s bunch has plenty more around the dynamic guard from Syracuse.
Northeastern rebounded from a disappointing showing at the Gulf Coast Showcase, where it went 1-2, cruising past Maine on Wednesday by 15 points. A week off between the tournament and the return to non-conference play should have the Huskies fresh coming into Saturday’s marquee matchup.
Names To Know
Jordan Roland has been outstanding to open the campaign. Only Marquette All-American Markus Howard is averaging more than Roland’s 25.1 points per game.
His multifaceted game sets the table for what’s been a balanced approach. Coen has played seven Huskies at least 19.1 minutes per game. The heart of that rotation is the freshman Tyson Walker and veteran wing Bolden Brace.
Northeastern’s lineups have had to run smaller, the result of big man Tomas Murphy sidelined with injury. Greg Eboigbodin has stepped up to fill the void, working particularly well on the glass. His defensive rebounding percentage ranks 55th among all Division I players.
Few offenses around college basketball this season are as exciting as Northeastern’s. Coen has long emphasized a motion system that encourages playmaking over being beholden to sets.
With Roland lighting it up as he has, however, the Huskies have kicked it into another gear this season. They rank No. 58 in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, and No. 3 across all Div. I programs for effective field-goal percentage.
While Roland’s at the forefront, Brace and Walker provide enough threat to keep defenses honest. Maxime Boursiquot and Eboigbodin are both shooting north of 60 percent from inside the 3-point line.
Forcing the tempo from the defensive side is the big question mark facing Northeastern to maximize its potential. The Huskies put up points, but how many more could they score forcing more turnovers?
Northeastern generates steals effectively, but rank No. 349 nationally in non-steal turnovers. Opponents have, in turn, often opted to take the air out of the ball with possessions that average almost 19 seconds in length -- that’s right around Davidson’s average.
The size limitations Northeastern faces with Murphy sidelined can make defending the lane and keeping opponents off the offensive glass challenging.