Duke-Davidson Preview: Stephen Curry and Co. Looking for First Signature Win

Brad Frank@brfrank9Correspondent IJanuary 5, 2009

National player of the year candidate Stephen Curry and the Davidson Wildcats travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium to play Duke, searching for their first signature win of this season.

Duke enters the game now ranked No. 2, looking to gain momentum heading into the bulk of conference play, which began Sunday with a 69-44 win at home against Virginia Tech.

Davidson, meanwhile, is looking to win its first game against a ranked team this season, as the Wildcats have already lost to then-No. 14 Oklahoma and then-No. 18 Purdue.

To Davidson’s credit, it has a solid win over West Virginia, which is a second-rate Big East team and likely to make the NCAA tournament. Note, however, that the Mountaineers were troubled with injury in the game but managed to keep it close until the end.

The Wildcats received national attention after their magical run in the NCAA tournament last season, which included wins over Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Wisconsin. This season, they were “rewarded” with exposure to the national audience via a handful of prime time games against big-time programs.

But the exposure is grinding on the Wildcats because the team has less depth compared to last season and because the team lost leading assist man Jason Richards to graduation, forcing Curry to assume the point guard role.

Davidson is projected to win the Southern Conference. An undefeated conference record is likely, and an NCAA tournament at-large berth is nearly a lock for Davidson if it doesn’t manage to win the Southern Conference tournament title.

Wednesday against Duke, the Wildcats are likely to have a lot of difficulty in Cameron Indoor Stadium for three reasons.

First, Duke has one of the best defenses in the country and is capable of shutting down an entire roster of great players. Conversely, Davidson has only one great player in Stephen Curry. Expect Duke’s defense to give the Wildcats fits when they are on offense.

Second, Duke has a tremendous size advantage compared to Davidson. Duke starts 7’1” center Brian Zoubek, who is notably taller than Davidson’s starting forwards, who stand no taller than 6’8”.

Kyle Singler leads the Blue Devils in points, assists, and rebounds. The 6’8” forward is very versatile and creates matchup problems for those similar or taller in height to him. Also, expect Jon Scheyer to guard Curry. Scheyer is an inch taller and has decent length, which could pose problems for Curry.

Lastly, this game is at home for Duke. The Cameron Crazies always aid Duke in its attempt to harass opposing offenses. Therefore, the atmosphere will be too intimidating for Davidson to pull off the upset.

Despite Curry’s talent, the size and depth of Duke will overmatch Davidson. The home crowd will overwhelm the visiting Wildcats. And finally, Duke performs tremendously at home against non-conference opponents.