Game of the Night
VCU Rams vs. Dayton Flyers
This is the game that we’ve all been waiting for. VCU will travel to play the Dayton Flyers on Saturday night in a matchup that has huge implications for both teams. The Rams currently lead the Atlantic 10 standings and are guaranteed at least a share of the regular season title. If they beat the Flyers on Saturday night, they’ll win the regular season outright. Dayton, along with St. Bonaventure and St. Joseph’s, is fighting for a share of the title as well. All three of those teams have a chance to do just that depending on how things turn out on Saturday. Dayton and VCU are just two of the conference’s 14 teams that will be in action on Saturday. Yes, you heard that right. The entirety of the Atlantic 10 will be taking the court today. So much can happen in a matter of 8 hours, so sit back, relax, and enjoy some Atlantic 10 basketball.
Dayton enters this contest having lost 3 of its last 5 and is really beginning to find itself in a slump. The Flyers narrowly won a road game over Richmond on Tuesday; a loss really would’ve hurt this team. What’s particularly troubling for Dayton is that it has lost its last 2 home games. These losses came at the hands of Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure. Prior to those two losses, Dayton had dropped just one at home all season long. That was to Chattanooga earlier this year. Dayton is really going to have to hope that Kendall Pollard shines in his third game back from injury. Though he’s been reinserted into the regular lineup, it’s clear that he isn’t 100% just yet. The Flyers are going to need him to be the leader and scorer that he is if they want to avoid losing their third straight home game on Saturday night.
VCU enters this contest relatively hot, having won 5 of its last 6. One thing worth noting is that that loss came on the road to George Mason, one of the worst teams in the conference. Other than that, VCU is grinding its way along at the end of the season, and if the Rams make the NCAA Tournament, they’ll look to carry that momentum into the later rounds. The Rams just took down George Washington on the road last weekend, a very good resume-building win. In addition, they brought a tough Davidson team into the Siegel Center and took it down. The most important part for VCU is that its starting to play well when it matters. Oh, and if you didn’t know, this game against Dayton matters. If VCU wins, it’ll be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. If it loses, it still hangs right on the bubble. This should be a good one.
Grant’s Take: I like VCU in this one. Having gotten some momentum these last couple games, the Rams should have what it takes to get the big win. These two teams are trending in opposite directions, and I think the team that’s trending the right way, VCU, will pull it out.
Elsewhere in A-10 Action
Rhode Island Rams vs. Fordham Rams
Injuries? What injuries? Despite playing without a healthy roster for the entirety of the season, Rhode Island is showing why it was the preseason favorite to win the league this year. The Rams have had two great performances in a row and are hoping to continue when they face the Rams from Fordham. Rhody held Massachusetts to just 12 first half points the other day. Not bad, Rhode Island. Fordham has been on a little bit of a run itself lately, having won its last 3 games. Both of these teams are carrying a bit of momentum. Whoever can walk away with this one will be in great shape for Brooklyn.
Grant’s Take: I’ll take Rhode Island. Despite the injuries, the Rams somehow found a way to win at Dayton. If they can win there, I think they can find a way to win at Fordham.
George Washington Colonials vs. Davidson Wildcats
Most Bracketologists are talking about 4 A-10 teams that have a chance at making the NCAA Tournament; they’re making a mistake when looking past George Washington. The Colonials have some solid wins in the A-10 conference and even boast a non-conference victory over potential 1 seed Virginia. When they play Davidson on Saturday, it’s another must win game. The Colonials need to survive and advance right now, but the Wildcats may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle. You can’t forget that Davidson put up 99 points against St. Joseph’s at home the other night. And, oh yeah, they have this guy named Jack Gibbs. You might want to guard him if you’re George Washington.
Grant’s Take: I like the Colonials in this one. George Washington knows the implications of this game and should be playing with a slight edge on Saturday. Don’t expect Garino or Cavanaugh to go out without a fight.
Duquesne Dukes vs. St. Joseph’s Hawks
Duquesne needs a win, but that’s a lot easier said than done when it goes on the road to face St. Joseph’s. The Hawks have actually been better on the road than at home this year, but they’re still a great team on their own floor. DeAndre’ Bembry and Isaiah Miles are both player-of-the-year contenders, and if the Dukes don’t find someone to slow either of them down, they’re going to be in for a long night. Duquesne has now dropped its last 8 games and will look to end that streak on Saturday afternoon. St. Joseph’s will try to bounce back from a loss to St. Bonaventure earlier in the week.
Grant’s Take: I’m taking St. Joseph’s. I really don’t know who’s gong to be able to stop Bembry or Miles, so those two should be in for monstrous games. The only thing to look out for would be career games from Micah Mason or Derrick Colter.
Richmond Spiders vs. George Mason Patriots
I’m pretty sure I could guess what the scouting report looks like for the George Mason Patriots. I’m guessing it says something like “Stop T.J. Cline!” He went for a career-high 36 points the other night against Dayton and is proving to be one of the most prolific scorers in the conference. Though this Richmond offense can be tough to stop, the Patriots have done it before. They took down the Spiders 78-74 earlier this season and will look for the season sweep on Saturday. Look out for Mason freshman Jaire Grayer; he had 20 points the last time these two teams met.
Grant’s Take: This one’s tough, but I like Richmond to get the revenge win. It would really surprise me to see George Mason get the series sweep over the Spiders, and the way T.J. Cline played the other night, it’s going to be tough for the Patriots to pull this one out.
La Salle Explorers vs. Massachusetts Minutemen
As much as this game may seem unimportant, it’s worth noting that the Minutemen are playing for a first round bye in Brooklyn. Facing the struggling Explorers shouldn’t be too much of a burden for UMass, but this La Salle team has won its last two games (both times, the score was 76-68). Though the Explorers have had little to show for this season, it would really be beneficial for them to get a three game winning streak going before competing in the A-10 Tournament.
Grant’s Pick: I’ll take Massachusetts. La Salle hasn’t beaten a Division 1 team on the road this season; I don’t see how that’s going to change when it plays UMass.
St. Bonaventure Bonnies vs. Saint Louis Billikens
The recipe for an NCAA Tournament bid is simple for the Bonnies at this point: don’t screw up. Not to discredit the Billikens, but losing at Saint Louis would be screwing up. St. Bonaventure is starting to find itself on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble after taking down St. Joseph’s in Rochester. The Bonnies needed a Jaylen Adams buzzer beater three to beat the Billikens last time, and given that this game is Saint Louis, it really could go either way. The Billikens have taken down Davidson and George Washington at home this season. This will be no easy game for the Bonnies.
Grant’s Take: As much as I think Saint Louis could win, I’m going with the Bonnies. Marcus Posley went for 47 the other night. Yes, 47. I think this team is too strong right now.