As discussed in the St. Bona recon, the Flyers have entered a vital four-game stretch, a quartet of matchups that Dayton will need to win to keep pace with the rest of the A10’s upper echelon. At home against George Mason, at Fordham and then two more games at the Sweater Centre against Saint Joseph’s and Duquesne.
Ya boy KenPom gives Dayton excellent chances at winning all four contests, with the game at rowdy Rose Hill the toughest test.
Now, I’m going to tell you guys a dirty little secret, something I’m not proud of. I was a Political Science major at the University of Dayton. Most of the guys I went to class with are either history teachers or living behind warehouses. That being said, my probability calculation tells me the chances of Dayton winning all four games, using Pomeroy’s percentages, is 36.0511%. Feel free to check my math, I did my best. Needless to say, there’s nothing easy about winning four consecutive games — not even in this current iteration of the Atlantic Ten.
Let’s take a quick look, shall we, at the schedules the rest of the “better” teams in the conference will face leading up to the halfway point of league play.
Saint Louis (5-0): @Duquesne, Davidson, Richmond, Rhode Island
George Mason (5-1): @Dayton, George Washington, @VCU
VCU (4-1): @Rhode Island, @Duquesne, George Mason, @George Washington
Davidson (4-1): George Washington, @Saint Louis, @Saint Bonaventure, Rhode Island
Duquesne (4-1): Saint Louis, VCU, Rhode Island, @Dayton
Dayton (4-1): George Mason, @Fordham, Saint Joseph’s, Duquesne
Two things are clear: Saint Louis has the opportunity to slightly distance itself from the pack (that game against Saint Davidson looms large) and we will know what kind of threat Duquesne is by the time nine games are in the book. The Atlantic Ten is an unadultereated shitshow, this is merely my attempt to gin up some excitement in what remains an arduous grind of a season. Honestly, at this point, I’d enjoy it if Fordham or La Salle somehow found a way to win the league tournament and claim the conference’s JUAN BID.
Mason returns all five of its starters from last season, which is always a good thing. Otis “My Man” Livingston, finally a senior, runs the show for Paulsen. Although Livingston is still turnover prone, the lil’ fella distributes the ball well and is more than capable of knocking down tough, clutch shots. Junior Justin Kier has improved in just about every quantifiable area you can think of. The 6’4″ wing is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, a versatile player who excels defensively as well. Javon Greene rounds out the Mason three-guard attack. Greene has upped his scoring from his freshman season and at 6’2″ is one of Mason’s better rebounders, which really impressed yours truly.
Ian Boyd and Jarrod Reuter round out the Mason starting lineup. Reuter is a Virginia transfer, a 6’7″/240lb white bull who can score on down low and step out and hit shots. Paulsen is on the record labeling Reuter an “all-conference caliber player.” Uh, not yet, Dave. Pump your brakes. Boyd hit three consecutive buzzer beaters last season, which is pretty much better than winning the Naismith in my opinion. Jaire Grayer, a name *real* A10 fans should recognize, has been out since late November with a foot injury (something he has dealt with since last season), a significant blow to Paulsen’s quest for the conference crown. Get well, Jaire.
I know what you are thinking — fuck these dudes, what does this team do well as a unit? For one, the Pats (can I call them the Pats?) make a federal case out of defending the perimeter. Teams are shooting just 29.9%, I refuse to round up, from the three-point line. Mason keeps its opponents off the offensive glass and, like a women’s studies major, makes you work for everything you get. While GMU is an efficient offensive group, they don’t do anything particularly well outside of foul-shooting. This game has the potential to be a rock fight, buckle up.
I’m always going to pick Dayton at home in a conference matchup, that’s not going to change anytime soon. Dayton has a pronounced size advantage against Mason, so I’d hope, not expect, the Flyers to work the ball inside repeatedly. Obi Toppin has been fairly quiet since the Richmond game, he’s due for a breakout performance — mark him down for 16/6 against George Mason. Flyers 68, Patriots 62. #STAYLOWD #DONTLOSETOFORDHAM