Atlantic 10 Saturday Preview: George Washington, Dayton search for crucial home wins

Game of the Night

VCU Rams vs. George Washington Colonials – 12:30 ET (NBCSN)

In what was one of the better games of the A-10 season, George Washington was able to go on the road and steal a win over VCU back in early February. Now, with the season on the line for both of these teams, the rematch in Foggy Bottom becomes even more important. The Colonials are winners of their last 3 but still seem to find themselves on the wrong side of the bubble according to most Bracketology projections. VCU, on the other hand, is coming off a very bad road loss to George Mason; that game shifted the Rams closer to the bubble. They’re now a firm bubble team that’s going to need a strong finish to the season to have a chance at making the NCAA Tournament.

The key for the Rams in this one will be stopping the Colonials in the paint and on the boards. George Washington is 1st in the conference in offensive rebound percentage (36.6%) and loves to beat teams after getting second chance opportunities. If VCU’s defense continues to force turnovers at a high rate, there’s a good chance it can gain the edge. George Washington is the worst team in the conference in terms of allowing the fewest steals; VCU ranks 1st in the conference in forcing steals. If Will Wade’s squad can exploit this advantage, it has a better chance of getting the road win. Finally, the Rams are going to have to stop Patricio Garino. He had 27 points the last time these two teams met including 4-7 from downtown. VCU can’t allow him to go off and have yet another impressive showing.

The key for the Colonials will be containing the explosive backcourt that VCU employs. Last time these two met, Melvin Johnson had 12 points; he’s the reigning A-10 player of the week, and with all of the success he’s been having lately, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go off against George Washington. JeQuan Lewis led VCU the last time these teams met when he had 16 points. Get him going, and it’s going to be tough to stop the Rams’ backcourt. George Washington did a really good job taking care of the basketball last time out against VCU. The Rams only forced 10 turnovers while committing 12 of their own. If the Colonials limit their giveaways and play smart basketball, there’s no reason why they can’t get the season sweep over VCU.

Elsewhere in A-10 Action

Rhode Island Rams vs. Dayton Flyers – Noon ET (ESPN2)

Unfortunately for Rhode Island, the rest of its season just got a lot tougher without the help of Hassan Martin who will miss it with a knee injury. Though he’s an integral part of the Rams’ offense and will certainly be missed, don’t expect Rhody to go quietly in this one. The Rams almost beat Dayton earlier this season at the Ryan Center. A late shot by Darrell Davis put the Flyers on top for good, but the resilience of Rhode Island kept the Rams alive and kicking the whole game. Dayton is dealing with some issues of its own. It’s likely that they’ll be without Kendall Pollard once again, and in the 3 games that he’s been gone, the Flyers have had some major issues. They’ve lost 2 of these games and barely found a way to squeak out a win over Saint Louis earlier this week. If Dan Hurley’s squad comes hungry, anything can happen on Saturday.

Davidson Wildcats vs. Fordham Rams – 2 ET

Davidson has been proving itself to be one of the hottest teams in the Atlantic 10 as of late. The Wildcats have won their last 3, including a very nice home victory over the St. Joseph’s Hawks. Jack Gibbs has been difficult to stop, but Peyton Aldridge has been proving his worth as well. He’s has two 24-point games in the Wildcats’ latest 3 game winning streak. Davidson’s high-powered offense has been proving difficult to stop, and it’s unlikely that the Rams will provide much resistance. They’ve now lost 4 of their last 6 and have found varying degrees of frustration as of late.

George Mason Patriots vs. La Salle Explorers  – 2 ET

Though this game may not have much importance in the grand scheme of the conference, it’s important to each team. George Mason is coming off a shocking upset win over VCU and is looking to make it two in a row. Though the Patriots have had a difficult year, they’re trying to build some confidence heading into the postseason with some solid wins down the stretch. La Salle is now on a two game losing streak after getting a huge upset win over St. Bonaventure. The Explorers’ only conference wins this year have come against two of the better teams in the league: St. Bonaventure and Dayton. It’ll be interesting to see who will gain the edge in this one.

 UMass Minutemen vs. St. Bonaventure Bonnies – 4 ET

St. Bonaventure needs to keep winning if it wants to make the NCAA Tournament this season. After a recent road win over Dayton, the Bonnies are finally beginning to prove their worth to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. With some qualities wins on their plate, the Bonnies have a really good chance at making the Big Dance in just a couple of weeks. But making the NCAA Tournament is contingent on St. Bonaventure not losing anymore buy-in games. The Bonnies were unable to beat La Salle the other day, and that loss hurt their tourney stock. UMass hasn’t been very good away from home, but if Jaylen Adams or Marcus Posley have an off night, anything can happen on Saturday.

 Richmond Spiders vs. Duquesne Dukes – 6 ET

These two teams have little hope of making the NCAA Tournament this season, but that doesn’t mean that this won’t be a good game. These are two evenly matched teams with explosive backcourts and high-powered offenses. The good news is that one of these teams is going to reverse its downward trend. Richmond has lost 3 in a row while Duquesne has now dropped 6 straight. The Dukes could surely use a victory to end this ugly streak of losses that’s beginning to pile up. Derrick Colter and Micah Mason are tough players to stop, but if ShawnDre’ Jones is able to keep up and Terry Allen does his work for the Spiders, Richmond may be able to come away with the road win.

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