Preview @ Dayton

By Steve DiMiceli

Dukes dropped two in a row for the first time this season and will have a very difficult challenge ahead of them tonight to avoid a true losing streak in Dayton. Dukes haven't won at the UD Arena in 4 years but I would say that Dayton really deserved to win two out of the last three. Who can forget Jason Duty missing 3 FT's in a row to send the '08 - 09 meeting into overtime or the Dukes dropping a 9 point lead with about 10 minutes to go while failing to score in the last 5 minutes of the game?

Dayton is coming off a terrible loss at home to Rhode Island over the weekend. In lot of ways I wish there was a little more distance between that loss and the Dukes trip down I-79 to I-70 through Licking County and on the Columbus Beltway just because google maps told them too go that way even though it's much faster just to drive through the city during low traffic periods. Dayton has played themselves into something of a must win tonight if they hope to win 20 games this year and have a shot at the NIT. They're on the road for 5 of their last 8 including trips to St Louis, X and Duquesne and they have UMass at home. While they are still in good shape, a loss tonight could ruin what I think is a surprising season for Dayton.

This game is going to have the feel of an NBA game tonight. Not in terms of skills or size or a disinterested crowd or that nobody has to actually dribble. Rather because neither team plays any defense. In effective field goal % Dayton actually fairs slightly worse than Duquesne. The Flyers are a very good FT shooting team and overall a much better shooting team than Dukes. They can score inside and outside, but are vulnerable to their opponents scoring inside and outside. Dayton is led by surprising point guard Kevin Dillard and of course senior, Chris Johnson. Both have been deadly scorers at times this season and have the potential to run up 20 points if the Dukes don't pay attention to them. The Flyers will have a definite size advantage with Matt Kavanaugh  playing inside and two soft 6'9 forwards playing the perimeter. That being said Luke Fabrizius does have potential to own us from 3.

There are some real opportunities for Duquesne to match up with the Flyers. Dayton does not turn it over a ton, but Duquesne has done bad things to better teams. For all the praise Dillard deserves, he does turn it over around 3 times per game. Dayton also seems like they could be vulnerable to the smaller lineup. Duquesne should be focused on creating mismatches and putting the ball on the floor. If the Dukes can isolate BJ Montiero against Kavanaugh, Fabrizius or Alex Gavrilovic, he should have a field day. I do think Duquesne really needs to forego the 3 ball tonight and concentrate on making the extra pass and finishing strong. If Duquesne does win tonight, I think TJ will have around 10 assists.

Dayton's trajectory has turned somewhat since losing Josh Benson for the season to a knee injury. I think the Dukes have the opportunity to steal one on the road tonight to make up for either of the St Joe's or Lasalle home losses.  Looking deeper into this matchup, I actually like Duquesne in a neutral building with Benson out of the lineup.While this is not the same Flyers team that went on an OOC tear this year, they're still a good group and if they've bought into their program, they play with pride at home. They should come out focused after losing to URI and I think they likely take the win tonight probably by around 4 points. However, I expect a Duquesne win at home later in the season and another split between these two clubs.

For anyone interested, here is a link to my Q + A with Blackburn Review.  I almost feel like I let them down by not swearing more or making jokes about boobs.