#1 Dayton Flyers vs. #4 St. Joseph’s Hawks
In game 1 of the semi-final double header, the 1 seed Flyers take on the 4 seed Hawks. Saint Joseph’s took the only meeting between the two teams this year, a 79-70 win on Hawk Hill. The difference in this game today will be played on a neutral court with star big man Kendall Pollard, who played yesterday, will be in the lineup. Dayton took care of business yesterday, beating Richmond 69-54. Dayton also played the game with their full roster, a factor so big, the Flyers have not lost this year with all their players available. St. Joe’s had to grit out a win yesterday, coming back from a 14 point half point deficit to beat George Washington, 86-80. Today’s game should be a back and forth battle throughout, and it is going to come down to which team’s players can make big plays. Both Dayton and SJU defend the ball well, and if the matchup is anything like the game in late February, you won’t want to miss this game. The X-Factors for Dayton will be Pollard, who did not play in the first match-up, as well as guard play in Cooke and Smith. For the Hawks, after an emotional come from behind victory yesterday, as well as a win that gave Martelli his 400th career win, the Hawks need to avoid getting off to another slow start. The veteran leadership is going to be key for the Hawks if they want to come away with a win against top seed Dayton. Miles, Bembry and Brown are going to have to carry the load and lead for the Hawks. I see the Flyers, playing with a full lineup, getting revenge on the Hawks, winning 76-67.
#2 VCU Rams vs. #6 Davidson Wildcats
In the second game, the 6 seed Davidson takes on the 2 seed VCU. In the first matchup this year, VCU came away with a win at Davidson, 79-69. In the second matchup, VCU won again, this time at home, again by 10, 70-60. This Davidson team, though, is different. Davidson is playing for their NCAA tournament lives. Davidson knocked off the hottest team in the A-10 last night, coming from behind to beat St. Bonaventure in overtime, 90-86. VCU blew the doors off UMass, winning 85-70. The keys to this game will be for VCU, defending the 3 point shot. For Davidson, they need to make the 3 early, then attack the rim after the defense presses up. A main factor will be the play of Jack Gibbs, a junior trying to play their way back into the NCAA tournament. He has been their best player all year, and will need to continue to do so, as they will need to win the A-10 to get a bid to the NCAA Tournament. For VCU, they will need to get Melvin Johnson and Mo Alie-Cox involved early and ride their role players, Billbury and Lewis, to the finish. I see VCU, with a tough lineup and fresher legs, coming away with this one, 83-75.