Game of the Night:
VCU vs La Salle | 2:00 ET | NBC Sports Network
Coming off their first Atlantic 10 loss of the season, the VCU Rams are looking to bounce back in a strong fashion. After winning its opening conference game against Fordham, VCU dropped an overtime contest at Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday. Lets be honest, this is a season where it looks like the Rams will need to win the A-10 tournament title to keep their NCAA tournament streak alive. In order to do that, VCU must help itself by finishing the regular season as one of the conference’s top four teams. That said, the Rams could use a big road win at La Salle to avoid falling below .500 in A-10 play and stay in serious contention to earn a double-bye in D.C.
As for La Salle, the Explorers find themselves off to a 1-1 start in conference play. After being downed by Rhode Island their last time out, the Explorers have fallen to 7-8 on the year. Up and down all season, La Salle needs to turn the ship around and fast. A home game against VCU offers the Explorers the perfect opportunity to possibly get back on track and regain some momentum. I expect a close, high scoring showdown on Saturday, but ultimately think a bounce back minded VCU team will edge the struggling Explorers.
Prediction: VCU 88, La Salle 84
UMass vs Dayton | 12:00 ET | NBC Sports Network
Coming off a huge win over St. Bonaventure, Dayton will stay at home for a battle against UMass at noon on Saturday. Beating the Bonnies was by far Dayton’s biggest and most impressive win so far this season. That said, the Flyers can not afford a let down game. Dayton played a dominant and consistent 40 minutes of basketball against St. Bonaventure Wednesday night and will need to do the same in order to beat UMass. The Minutemen fell to George Mason in overtime their last time out and would love nothing more than to bounce back with a big win at Dayton. UMass will try to catch the Flyers napping, but I think Dayton wakes up in time to secure its second straight win.
Prediction: Dayton 75, UMass 66
Duquesne vs Fordham | 3:30 ET | CBS Sports Network
Hitting the road for their first conference game away from home this season, the Duquesne Dukes are riding high. Yes, you read that right, the Dukes are traveling to Fordham feeling good about themselves. Off to a 2-0 start in A-10 play, Duquesne has already downed Dayton and George Washington and is looking to stay unbeaten. While the Dukes have played a far from strong strength of schedule, they do hold a much improved 11-4 overall record. If Duquesne wants to improve to 3-0 in the Atlantic 10, though, it will have to get the job done against a Fordham team looking to win their second straight. The Rams will no doubt give Duquesne a run for its money, but I think the Dukes’ passion they have been playing with this season will power them to a win.
Prediction: Duquesne 70, Fordham 64
Rhode Island vs George Washington | 4:00 ET | Atlantic 10 Network
At 2-0 in the Atlantic 10, Rhode Island is off to the start everyone anticipated. Seeking a NCAA tournament at large (and hopefully auto) bid, the Rams have taken care of business up until this point. George Washington, on the other hand, has been up and down all year. The Colonials dropped their previous contest to Duquesne, but will undoubtedly put all they have into trying to pull off a big upset at home this Saturday. In the end, though, I think Rhode Island will be too much and pull away for another win.
Prediction: Rhode Island 77, George Washington 65
St. Bonaventure vs Saint Joseph’s | 8:00 ET | ESPNU
Coming off a brutal performance and loss at Dayton, St. Bonaventure is looking to rebound on Saturday. Wednesday’s loss ended the Bonnies eight game win streak, but in search of an NCAA tournament bid this year, St. Bonaventure is looking to start a new one. Saint Joseph’s, on the other hand, comes into this one following a nice win over VCU. While playing at home should help the Hawks, I expect St. Bonaventure to come into this one angry and ready to get back on track.
Prediction: St. Bonaventure 83, Saint Joseph’s 72
Richmond vs Saint Louis | 8:00 ET | Atlantic 10 Network
Coming off a pair of losses on Wednesday, both Richmond and Saint Louis are looking to get back on track. Well, getting back on track is something Richmond has been trying to do all year. The 3-11 Spiders will roll into Saint Louis just playing for bragging right at this point. While the Billikens have not been great at 7-8 overall, they have at least shown flashes of potential at times this season. Based off these two team’s track records, expect an ugly, low scoring affair Saturday night.