Game of the Night: Dayton at Richmond (7:00 PM, CBS College Sports)
The final week of the regular season is the last chance for teams to make statements to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee before the postseason. Lasting images make a difference in some members’ eyes. That is something that both Dayton and Richmond will have to keep in mind, for different reasons. Dayton is teetering on the bubble and needs a win here, while Richmond is working on seeding and also still has a chance at a league title. Dayton has wins over Georgia Tech, Old Dominion, Xavier and Charlotte, but a questionable loss at Saint Joseph’s. The Flyers have lost three of five and are just 6-6 in their last 12. Richmond has plenty of solid victories on the season, beating Temple, Old Dominion, Missouri, Mississippi State, Florida and Rhode Island. They are 11-3 in the Atlantic-10 and have won eight of nine.
Dayton came into the season as the favorite to win the Atlantic-10, but the Flyers struggled out of the gate in conference play and never truly recovered, leaving them in trouble heading into Selection Sunday. They’re a very good defensive team, contesting shots and dominating the defensive glass. However, on offense, they struggle to hit outside shots and turn the ball over too often. The athletic Chris Wright is the team’s top scorer and rebounder, and he is capable of highlight reel finishes. Chris Johnson is another versatile forward, while Marcus Johnson can do a little of everything. London Warren plays tough defense and distributes, although Rob Lowery is more explosive offensively.
Richmond suffered a few questionable losses in non-conference play, falling at William & Mary, VCU and South Carolina. However, after a 3-2 start in the A-10, the Spiders are now rolling. This team plays excellent defense, forcing turnovers and difficult shots for the opponents. Offensively, they have balance and take care of the ball. Richmond revolves around the dynamite backcourt of Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez. Anderson is capable of filling it up from a variety of spots on the court, and can also pass. Gonzalvez is a good outside shooter who can rebounds. Wing Ryan Butler is another solid all-around player. Up front, Justin Harper is an inside-outside double-figure threat, and Dan Geriot is decent.
This is a must-win for Dayton if it harbors any at-large hopes come Selection Sunday. It won’t be easy, though – and probably won’t happen. Richmond has lost just one home game all season, while Dayton has fallen in three straight road games, and five of its last six away from home. Another problem is the fact that Dayton struggles to take care of the ball, and Richmond thrives off of turnovers and mistake-prone guards. Richmond’s defense will neutralize Dayton’s offense, and the Flyers will struggle to contain both Anderson and Gonzalvez. If Dayton is to win, it will need big-time games from Wright and Johnson.
Prediction: Richmond 66, Dayton 59