Game of the Day
Duquesne Dukes vs. (19) Dayton Flyers
The 19th ranked Dayton Flyers will try to extend their win streak to eight games as they host Duquesne. The Dukes have a tough task at their hands because Dayton is arguably playing the best basketball they have been all year. The Flyers have quietly plugged away at their conference schedule while maintaining one of the best non-conference wins in recent Atlantic Ten history. Their 5 point win over Iowa in November has turned into quite the feather in Dayton’s cap, as the Hawkeyes are 19-4, the favorites to win the Big Ten, and on their way to a 1 or 2 seed come March. Don’t let this quality résumé deceive you – Dayton still has a lot to play for, even though they are safely in the tournament right now. In addition to solidifying their place in the NCAA Tournament, they are now in a race for the conference title with VCU, as both teams now sit at 9-1 in conference play.
As for the game tonight, a Duquesne team with a propensity of getting hot from three stands in their way. The Dukes sit right in the middle of the conference at 5-5 and are coming off of a home loss to Davidson. The recipe for success for Duquesne this season has had a bit of a risk/reward theme to it on defense. The Dukes are the 5th ranked team in the nation in defending opponent’s two point shots, while they are the 10th worst at defending the three pointer. While it could be tough for Dayton to score in the paint, Charles Cooke and Scoochie Smith should have plenty of good looks from long range.
These two teams already met once this year, with Dayton prevailing 66-58 in a low scoring affair. Neither team shot the ball particularly well from three, with Dayton going 3/25 (12%) and Duquesne mustering a 2/12 (17%) mark. However, Duquesne’s most efficient scorer and best shooter, Micah Mason, did not play in that game. Let’s hope Mason and his fellow senior scoring guard Derrick Colter can keep the Dukes in the game (and out of foul trouble) and make this one interesting.
Elsewhere in A-10 Action
Rhode Island Rams vs. George Mason Patriots
Injuries have played a major role in the narrative for Rhode Island this season. Along with the loss of EC Mathews to start the year, the Rams have had three other major contributors miss time this season. The biggest question is whether Kuran Iverson will miss his third consecutive game with a concussion. Jarvis Garrett, who was questionable with a jaw injury for Saturday’s contest against La Salle, was able to play 38 minutes and score 26 points. George Mason has a tough task on their hands, but the Patriots have shown in recent games that they can take down good teams like Richmond on the road. One thing that might help the Patriots would be turning Rhode Island over some – George Mason is dead last in the nation at forcing turnovers, as well as steals per game. If George Mason can help themselves out on defense and slow the game down a bit, another good road win is not out of the question.