Dayton tied for first in A-10 one third of way through schedule

Flyers, who are atop standings with VCU and Saint Louis, seek seek sixth straight victory in series with George Washington

George Washington University announced last June it would drop its Colonials nickname and start using a new moniker in the 2023-24 academic year. Hippos was an early favorite but won’t make the cut, according to a report Wednesday by the GW Hatchet.

Atlantic 10 Conference fans would probably be happy to see anything other than Rams, which is already used by three schools in the league: Virginia Commonwealth; Rhode Island; and Fordham.

If there’s one word to describe the current George Washington basketball team in relation to the game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday against the Dayton Flyers, it’s “dangerous.”

Dayton (13-6, 5-1) plays George Washington (9-9, 3-2) at the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C., with the hopes of staying in a first-place tie in the A-10.

“Every game we play it’s the biggest game for the other team,” said Dayton forward Mustapha Amzil on Tuesday after a 68-61 victory against Davidson at UD Arena. “We know we’re getting the best (from every opponent), so we’re not taking anything from granted. We’ve got to play hard.”

Dayton, Virginia Commonwealth and Saint Louis all share first place at 5-1. The only other teams above .500 one third of the way through the A-10 schedule are Richmond and St. Bonaventure (both 4-2).

Dayton is off to its second-best start in the A-10 in Grant’s six seasons. It was 3-3 in 2017-18, 4-2 in 2018-19, 6-0 in 2019-20 and 4-2 the last two seasons.

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George Washington (9-9, 3-2) sits alone in sixth place. It hasn’t enjoyed a winning season since 2016-17, which was also the last time it beat Dayton, 87-81 in the final game of the regular season at the Smith Center. GW hasn’t played in the NCAA tournament since 2014. It was picked to finish 12th out of 15 teams in the preseason poll. Dayton routed GW by a total of 51 points in two games last season, making 18 of 32 3-pointers.

Even knowing all that, George Washington is capable of an upset for several reasons.

• The Colonials have the league’s top scorer. James Bishop averages 21.7 points per game on the season and has averaged 24.8 in five A-10 games. He has scored 10, 12 and 17 points in three games against Dayton in his career.

• They rank among the nation’s most efficient offenses inside the 3-point line, where they shoot 58.6%, the fifth-best number in the country.

• They make their free throws, shooting 76.4%, the 30th-best number in the country.

• They picked up a big victory Monday, winning 78-75 at George Mason (11-8, 3-3) by making 10 of 24 3-pointers. GW won despite being outscored 8-1 in the final 2:43.

“I thought we were the best version of ourselves,” first-year coach Chris Caputo told A10Talk.com.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Dayton at George Washington, 12:30 p.m., USA Network, 1290, 95.7

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