What to expect: Earning a bye starts Wednesday at Dayton

Four teams get double-byes in the A-10 Tournament. Dayton and VCU are just two of eight teams hoping to spend March 14th in Brooklyn in street clothes.

  • What: VCU (14-4, 2-1) vs. Dayton (13-5, 1-2)
  • Where: University of Dayton Arena
  • When: Wednesday, January 22nd at 7:00 PM
  • Watch: CBS Sports Network (Verizon 94 & Comcast 732/854)
  • Listen: Rams Radio

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The Atlantic 10 has entirely outpaced expectations this season and it will be apparent when Virginia Commonwealth University visits middle-of-the-pack Dayton on Wednesday night.

The Rundown

If VCU’s 76-66 loss against George Washington wasn’t already enough of an indication, the Atlantic 10 is one of the most balanced and talented leagues in the nation. It’s not the Big 10, but the A-10 ranks 6th in conference RPI ahead of the SEC and AAC and nine teams rank in the top 76 on KenPom.com. The bottom line: there are no “off nights” and competition for the four double-byes in the Atlantic 10 tournament is going to be brutal. Several really good teams are going to have to play on March 14th while the four top dogs watch from the stands in street clothes.

VCU is in no way a lock for one of those byes, and their quest continues in one of the most difficult arenas in the conference on Wednesday. VCU found success in University of Dayton Arena in March 2011 when they won their First Four battle against USC–we all know the rest of that story. One thing was different in 2011, UD fans were some of the Rams’ staunchest supporters during that game. That certainly won’t be the case on Wednesday as 13,455 fans try to derail HAVOC!. VCU needs to stay focused, play one possession at a time, and carry some of their second-half offensive magic from the Duquesne game in their suitcases with them to Dayton. VCU can’t win a bye in one game, but their journey really starts on Wednesday against an A-10 team a few (or more) steps above GMU and Duquesne.

The Team

The Flyers have one of the most balanced offenses in the league. Three players average in double figures and two more score 8.3+ PPG. They regularly put four solid 3-point shooters on the court which improves their spacing and allows their big men to be effective in the paint. VCU has been terrific at defending the 3-point line where A-10 opponents have only shot .179 against them. Overall their adjusted offense ranks 28th nationally but they only rank 142nd in turnover percentage. This is the type of game where an opponent can shoot .500 or better and still lose to VCU.

Defensively the Flyers need to be much better. Teams have been able to get going inside the arc and they have struggled with fouling this season. Juvonte Reddic and Treveon Graham have struggled from the field in the Atlantic 10. VCU’s front court desperately needs to get going on offense, and this is one of their easiest remaining games this season. The way the Rams’ front-court plays on Wednesday will likely dictate the result.

The Star: #5 Devin Oliver

11.3 PPG (.545 2PFG, .375 3PFG), 7.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.9 SPG

In addition to solid scoring and great rebounding, senior Devin Oliver has the speed and strength to keep up with Treveon Graham. He won’t break the scoreboard but he impacts the games in many ways. For example, he only scored nine points in Dayton’s loss against VCU last season but, he finished with 11 rebounds, five assists, and four steals.

Supporting Cast

#0 Khari Price (PG, Sophomore) • Price has elevated his game in his second season, and he’s doing a great job replacing Kevin Dillard. The Flyer’s balance takes a lot of pressure off of him, and he’s shooting .446 from 3-point range this season.

#24 Jordan Sibert (SG, Junior) • An Ohio State transfer, Sibert is coming into his own in Dayton. He’s an excellent 3-point shooter (38-of-83, .458) with the skills to make the Rams pay in transition. He leads Dayton in scoring with 12.1 PPG.

#21 Dyshawn Pierre (G, Sophomore) • A 6-foot-6 small forward, Pierre is athletic and can get to the rim and score. He already has four 19+ point games including a 19-point performance on Saturday against Richmond.

#40 Devon Scott (F, Sophomore) • Scott starts and his minutes were limited, but he’s been asked to do more since Matt Kavanaugh was injured against Saint Louis. Juvonte Reddic has to get going against Scott, an inexperienced defender who only weighs 215 pounds.

#43 Vee Sanford (G, Senior) • The Georgetown transfer started every game last season, but he has since lost his spot to Jordan Sibert. He brings size to the perimeter, he’s a great glue guy, but the Flyers need more from him.

#11 Scoochie Smith (PG, Freshman) • Smith is backup point guard and a good defender, but when he takes the court the Rams need to capitalize on his inexperience.

The Prediction

VCU has road games against Dayton and La Salle this week. Without offensive improvement, they will likely go 1-1. KenPom picks Dayton to win 72-70 with a 57% chance of victory.

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Dayton Profile

  • Location: Dayton, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 11,100
  • Conference: Atlantic 10
  • All time series: VCU leads 4-1.
  • Last meeting: 1/9/2013. VCU won 74-62.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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