Atlantic 10 Friday Preview: George Washington & Dayton battle in highly anticipated conference showdown

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Game of the Night

Dayton Flyers vs. George Washington Colonials – 7 ET (ESPN2)

The Essentials:

Category Dayton George Washington
Record 13-3 14-3
Conference Record 1-0 3-1
Home Record 9-1
Away Record 3-2
KenPom Ranking 46 65
RPI Ranking 17 31
Points Leader Cooke (15.7) Cavanaugh (17.2)
Rebounds Leader Pierre (7.2) Larsen (8.1)
Assists Leader Smith (4.5) Larsen (2.9)
Spread -5 +5

The lone game on Friday’s A10 slate is a great one, and features perhaps the two best teams in the conference. With NCAA tournament appearances likely eminent for both programs, this matchup should provide viewers and fans alike with a high-quality basketball game on all fronts.

While Dayton entered Atlantic 10 play as a favorite to win the conference, an upset loss to La Salle last weekend threw a wrench into their plans, at least for the short term. Since then, the Flyers regrouped with a decisive win over Davidson and look to continue their winning ways at home.

Dayton has developed one of the best home court advantages in the conference and is 9-1 this season when playing at UD Arena. On the other hand, George Washington has struggled on the road and holds just a 3-2 record on their opponents’ courts this year. However, that doesn’t mean the Colonials will be pushovers later tonight.

The key matchup to watch here will be in the post between GW leading scorer Tyler Cavanaugh and Dayton’s standout freshman Steve McElvene. At 6-9, Cavanaugh has been able to dominate many of his opponents thus far this season as is still yet to have had a game in which he did not score at least 10 points. He’s also coming off back-to-back games of 30 and 26 points. McElvene, who stands 6-11, is a pure athlete that has been developing steadily for this Flyers team. The true center is ranked 20th in the nation in block percentage. With GW having one of the taller teams in the country, they have depth in the frontcourt with 6-10 Kevin Larsen. It will be interesting to see if Larsen or Cavanaugh will get the defensive assignment on McElvene, but it’ll likely be a combination of both.

One of the biggest perks for Dayton at this point is the reinsertion of Kendall Pollard into the lineup. Pollard, the second leading scorer on the team, missed two games against UMass and La Salle due to a strained Achilles’ tendon but returned to the lineup against Davidson. The fact that he is good to go for this matchup is a huge bonus for the Flyers. Pollard is one of the more dynamic threats in the A10 and will provide valuable minutes for his team.

According to KenPom.com, Dayton has a 70% chance to win this game. The site also predicts a 70-65 score favoring the Flyers. Given the comparable level of talent, this game should be close. The question will be the strength of the pro-Dayton crowd and how it will affect play. Regardless, this is a showdown that A10 fans don’t want to miss.

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About Author

Huge college basketball fan. Co-owner/writer @ A10Talk.com (@A10Talk). Formerly ran The Groce Report (@TheGroceReport), wrote for SB Nation’s BT Powerhouse, and SB Nation's The Champaign Room. Davidson Wildcat, forever bleeding Orange and Blue.

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