Dayton vs. George Mason: 5 things to know about Wednesday’s game

Flyers have lost last two games in series

March can’t come soon enough for the Flyer Faithful. The Dayton Flyers have waited seven years to hear their names called on Selection Sunday. The moment on March 17, assuming it comes, will have extra meaning because it was stolen from them by the pandemic in 2020.

Some NCAA tournament experts believe Dayton (21-4, 11-2) has already sewn up a NCAA tournament bid with five games remaining in the regular season.

“Even with only two (Quadrant 1) wins, the Flyers are a lock,” wrote Justin Williams, of The Athletic, in his latest Bubble Watch story on Tuesday, “taking down Fordham on Saturday in the last remaining Q4 game on the schedule.”

John Gasaway, of ESPN, listed Dayton as one of 22 locks for the tournament in another Bubble Watch story on Tuesday. Dayton’s name appears on all 98 brackets collected on It has an average seed of 4.94.

While recent slumps by St. John’s and Cincinnati, two of the best teams Dayton beat in non-conference play, have hurt UD’s resume, it has not lost to anyone outside the top 75 of the NCAA Evaluation Tool. All of its losses are in Quad 1.

No. 16 Dayton will hope to continue that trend when it plays George Mason (17-8, 6-6) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va. Few Dayton fans or the Flyers themselves will make NCAA tournament plans — no matter what the experts say — until their team can get past this game and a few more challenging tests remaining on the Atlantic 10 Conference schedule.

“We’ve just have to have that next-game mentality,” said Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II on Saturday after a 78-70 victory against Fordham at UD Arena. “We’re going to enjoy tonight, flush it and then move on and get ready for our next opponent. No road game is going to be easy, especially in this conference. A lot of teams are coming after us. We have to make sure we’re locked in and do what we need to do to get the win.”

Here are five things to know about the game:

1. Well-rested opponent: George Mason has alternated two-game winning streaks and three-game losing streaks throughout A-10 play: two victories followed by three losses followed by two victories followed by three losses and then two victories. That leaves it in seventh place in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

In its last two games, George Mason won 57-55 at Davidson on Feb. 10 and then beat George Washington 90-67 on Feb. 17 in Fairfax. The Patriots will play Dayton after an eight-day break.

On the George Mason Coach’s Show this week, first-year coach Tony Skinn was hopeful the extra rest will allow senior guard Darius Maddox time to get healthy. He missed the last two games with an injury.

“It’s worked out in our favor as we try to get Darius healthy,” Skinn said. “Being able to win at Davidson and then obviously taking care of business against GW, if you know anything about a sprained ankle, seven to 10 days is huge in getting back the confidence that you need. It’s that time of the year where as much as prep is important, being as healthy as you can be down the stretch is just as important. We had a couple of days off. We ended up still having a three-day prep for Dayton. It’s been a good couple of days. We needed to be able to kind of press the reset button for our most important part of our season.”

2. Series history: Dayton leads the series 10-5. George Mason has won two straight games: 74-69 at Dayton last season and 50-49 at home in 2022. George Mason won both games under coach Kim English, who left after two seasons to coach at Providence.

Since George Mason joined the A-10 in the 2013-14 season, Dayton is 3-2 at George Mason and 1-2 in coach Anthony Grant’s tenure. The Flyers lost 85-67 at EagleBank Arena in Grant’s first season.

“This is what we play for,” Skinn said. “Anytime you have a chance to host arguably the best team in our conference, one of the better teams in the country, it’s all about the opportunity and just getting prepared for it. They do some really good things and are one of the better teams in the country at shooting the 3, something we’ve struggled with, but they’ve also struggled in the last two games. Then again, they also have arguably one of the best players in the country in DaRon Holmes. Those two things are going to be critical for us to play well on Wednesday.”

George Mason is 12-2 at home this season with the only losses coming against two of the top-four teams in the A-10 standings: 54-50 to Virginia Commonwealth on Jan. 9; and 85-79 to Loyola Chicago on Feb. 7.

3. Players to watch: Keyshawn Hall, a 6-7 sophomore guard, leads the team with 17.7 points per game. He averaged 5.4 points last season as a freshman at UNLV. He did not play last season in UNLV’s 60-52 victory against the Flyers

• Maddox, a 6-5 fourth-year guard, averages 13.8 points. He played the last three seasons at Virginia Tech. He scored 12 points last season in Virginia Tech’s 77-49 victory against Dayton.

• Amari Kelly, a 6-9 sixth-year forward, averages 12.0 points per game. He spent three seasons at Duquesne and then two seasons at UNC Wilmington.

• Nine players saw action for George Mason at Dayton last season. Only two remain on the roster. Ronald Polite, a 6-2 senior guard, averages 7.7 points per game. Malik Henry, a 6-8 senior forward, averages 3.3

4. Strengths and weaknesses: George Mason ranks second in A-10 games in 2-point field-goal percentage (52.5). Only Dayton (54.7) has a better number.

This is a matchup of two teams that play slow. George Mason ranks 332nd in the country in adjusted tempo, according to, and Dayton ranks 352nd out of 362 Division I teams.

5. Odds and rankings: gives Dayton an 61% chance of winning this game. Dayton ranks 19th in the NCAA Evaluation Tool. George Mason is the fifth-highest-ranked A-10 team at No. 83.

This is a Quad 3 game for Dayton because it’s a home game against a team that ranks between 76 and 160. Dayton is 2-4 in Quad 1, 6-0 in Quad 2, 6-0 in Quad 3 and 7-0 in Quad 4.

This is a Quad 1 game for George Mason. It is 0-2 in Quad 1 with losses to Tennessee and Richmond.


Dayton at George Mason, 7 p.m., MASN, 1290, 95.7

About the Author