Dayton Flyers vs. VCU Rams Pick & Prediction MARCH 8th 2024

No. 25 Dayton can finish undefeated at home for the fourth time in program history when it faces Virginia Commonwealth in the regular-season finale on Friday night in Dayton, Ohio.

The Flyers (23-6, 13-4 Atlantic 10) also can do some damage to their conference rival as the Rams (19-11, 11-6) are in danger of falling out of the league’s top four and losing a potential double bye in the A-10 tournament next week in New York.

Meanwhile, Dayton’s double bye is assured as the Flyers will open in the A-10 quarterfinals next Thursday. A berth in the NCAA Tournament also is a virtual certainty, as most experts have Dayton currently slotted as a No. 6 or 7 seed.

One area of concern for Dayton — which is 14-0 at home this season — is a thumb injury to point guard Javon Bennett, who leads the A-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio in conference play at 4.1.

Bennett, who was injured last Friday and sat out the second half of a 77-72 loss Friday at Loyola Chicago, watched from the bench on Tuesday night as Dayton ran away from host Saint Louis 100-83.

As Bennett’s status remains unclear, Kobe Elvis will continue to play the point. The junior supplied 21 points, five assists and just one turnover in directing an offense that hit 55.4 percent of its shots from the floor and 18 of 33 (54.5 percent) from beyond the arc.

Elvis and Koby Brea, who also finished with 21 points, each hit 5 of 8 shots from deep while DaRon Holmes II provided 25 points and 13 rebounds against Saint Louis.

Enoch Cheeks also had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Flyers outrebounded the Billikens 38-21.

“We shared the ball really well,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “With the disruption to the group with Javon being out, I’m really proud of the way the guys responded.”

Dayton last went undefeated at home in 2019-20. When the pandemic shut down the season, the Obi Toppin-led Flyers were ranked No. 3 in the nation with a 29-2 record.

VCU also has an injury concern in its backcourt as top scorer Max Shulga — who averages 15 points per game — has missed time with back spasms.

With Shulga playing hurt in one game and missing another, the Rams have lost two straight games. Shulga, who also is one of VCU’s top 3-point threats, is considered day-to-day, coach Ryan Odom said.

Another defeat on Friday would tag VCU with its first three-game skid since the 2019-20 season.

The Rams could have used Shulga in a 69-59 loss at home Tuesday to Duquesne, as their three backcourt starters made a combined 7 of 21 shots from the field and had 10 assists and eight turnovers.

“All of our goals are still out there,” Odom said. “We’ve gotta be ready for Brooklyn, without a doubt. We’ve gotta be healthy going into Brooklyn, regardless of where we’re seeded.”

VCU has won its last two meetings with Dayton, toppling the then-No. 18 Flyers 49-47 on Feb. 9 in a defensive standoff that Odom called a “rock fight.”

VCU also handed Dayton a 68-56 defeat in the A-10 tournament championship game last year.

–Field Level Media

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