The Flyers have played their best basketball at just the right time, beginning the conference tournament run with a blowout win at UMass to get to Atlantic City followed by wins over Xavier and Saint Joseph's. Chris Wright scored 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in yesterday's win over the Hawks, and Chris Johnson played well himself. But if Paul Williams and Luke Fabrizius are knocking down shots, as they did in the win over Xavier, Dayton's got a chance to grab the automatic bid. The Flyers aren't a particularly explosive team offensively, averaging 66.9 points per game and shooting 40.9% from the field. But if Dayton can get out on the break and get some easy opportunities early in the shot clock Richmond could have issues.
But that's far easier said than done against the Spiders, who limit opponents to 40.2% from the field and neither of their two opponents in the Atlantic 10 Tournament have shot better than 36% from the field (four straight games below 40% overall). Chris Mooney also has two of the best players in the conference in seniors Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper. Anderson was last season's conference Player of the Year, and his ability to both score and distribute makes the Spiders a tough out. Harper's an outstanding athlete at the 3/4 who can finish above the rim in addition to stepping out and knocking down perimeter shots. Dan Geriot and Darien Brothers are two other players that can hurt opponents offensively, but they will need to rebound in order to beat Dayton today (UD plus-4.8 margin, UR minus-1.9).
A one-seed could be on the line in the ACC final with bitter rivals Duke and North Carolina looking to settle their 1-1 deadlock on the season. The Tar Heels have led their two games (in regulation) for a grand total of 34 seconds, pulling away from Clemson in overtime by scoring the first nine points of the extra session. As for Duke there was the issue of Nolan Smith's jammed toe, which looked perfectly fine in their win over Virginia Tech. But two freshmen for the Heels have played well this weekend, with Kendall Marshall making the proper decisions late in both games to ensure their survival and Harrison Barnes scoring 40 yesterday. Does Duke win yet another ACC Tournament title, or do the Tar Heels complete their return to the top of the conference?
In Atlanta overall SEC champion Florida takes on Kentucky, who seems to be rounding into form at just the right time. Guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker have made better decisions of late and despite the talent in the frontcourt it's those two who will have the most to say about what Billy Donovan's team can accomplish over the next couple of weeks. As for Kentucky, despite their good play in the SEC Tournament have to deal with Doron Lamb and Deandre Liggins both being banged up. But if Terrence Jones plays well and Josh Harrellson does his customary dirty work inside the Wildcats have a shot at the win. And in the Big Ten, Penn State has gone from out to likely in due to three straight wins and Ohio State is a lock for a one-seed (maybe even the top overall). The Buckeyes ruined Penn State's Senior Day, and it's a safe bet that Talor Battle and company would like nothing more than to get some revenge and win a Big Ten title in the process.
ACC Final (Greensboro)
1:00 PM Duke vs. North Carolina (ESPN)
Atlantic 10 Final (Atlantic City)
1:00 PM Dayton vs. Richmond (CBS)
Big Ten Final (Indianapolis)
3:30 PM Penn State vs. Ohio State (CBS)
SEC Final (Atlanta)
1:00 PM Kentucky vs. Florida (ABC)