The Dayton Flyers and Virginia Commonwealth played an epic game March 5, one that might rank in the top 10 in UD Arena history.
Dayton needed a victory to clinch a share of the Atlantic 10 Conference title. Scoochie Smith and Kyle Davis made big shots in the final minutes for Dayton. The game featured a rally by the Flyers in the final minute of the second half and last-second misses that would have won the game for the Rams in regulation and again in overtime.
The Flyers won 68-67, and if anyone leaving the arena wished UD and VCU would play more than once per season, they’ll get their wish in 2016-17. The A-10 announced its men’s basketball pairings for the upcoming season Wednesday. VCU is one of five teams Dayton will play twice.
“The league has done a great job of trying to stay up with the times of the NCAA Tournament, giving our league the best chance to get as many at-large bid teams,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “In many cases, some tweaks here and there allow you to put together some matchups on paper that you feel will be favorable for the league, where the upper-tier teams or teams that have postseason aspirations aren’t playing each other just one time.
“In many cases, sometimes you get punished for not playing the better teams in your league more than one time.”
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Dayton finished 25-8 last season and 14-4 in the A-10. It tied VCU and St. Bonaventure for the regular-season title.
Dayton beat the Bonnies on the road and lost to them at home last season and will again play them twice. They’ll also face Rhode Island, Duquesne and Saint Louis twice.
This will be the third year the A-10 has played an 18-game schedule. Dayton has played Duquesne, St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis twice each season. It played Fordham twice in 2014-15. It played La Salle twice the last two seasons. This will be the second straight season the Flyers have played Rhode Island twice.
Dayton will play the other eight teams in the league once, hosting La Salle, George Mason, Richmond and Saint Joseph’s. The Flyers will play at Davidson, Fordham, George Washington and Massachusetts. Dates and times will be announced at a later date.
Dayton returns four starters and likely will be the preseason pick to win the conference. St. Joseph’s lost its top three scorers. The Bonnies lost two of their top three scorers. VCU lost its top player, Melvin Johnson.
“Looking at it on paper, Rhode Island is going to have a chance, if healthy, to be as deep and talented as any team in our conference,” Miller said. “Davidson, coming back with Jack Gibson and Peyton Aldridge together, that’s a great tandem. VCU brings back a lot of guys, like Mo Alie-Cox. Every team lost somebody, but you hope the development of your younger players and recruiting class can help you. I think it’s going to be a very deep league like it’s been the last couple years.