The Dayton Flyers have a growing rivalry with Virginia Commonwealth, but it will never match what VCU has with its crosstown Atlantic 10 rivals, Richmond.
The Rams and Spiders meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Siegel Center. For VCU, it’s the third straight home game against a team in first place.
La Salle shared first place when VCU won 90-52 on Jan. 22. Dayton was all alone in first place when VCU won 73-68 on Friday. Richmond (13-8) begins the week atop the standings at 7-2. Dayton (15-5) and VCU (16-5) are a half game back at 6-2. Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure and La Salle are all 5-3.
After a 5-0 start in league play, Richmond lost 75-59 to Dayton and 82-77 George Mason. It got back on track last week by beating Rhode Island 73-62 and Duquesne 101-90.
“I think we’re confident,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said Monday on the weekly A-10 coaches teleconference. “I feel we’ve played well.”
VCU swept the two-game series last season. Two years ago, Richmond swept the series but lost to VCU in the A-10 tournament.
“I think the game itself has always been bigger than the standings and whatever’s surrounding it,” Mooney said. “The intensity and emotions of the game have always stood alone. When we play there or play VCU here, the game, the excitement and the buzz around the city, all those things are felt in a really big way.”
Rebounding will be a key stat category when the teams meet. VCU beat Dayton by dominating the boards and outscoring UD 26-8 in second-chance points. The Rams lead the A-10 in rebounding margin (plus 7.4 in conference games). Richmond ranks 13th (minus 5.0).
“It’s what we have to do if we want to be successful,” VCU coach Will Wade said. “We’ve got to pound the glass. We’ve got to offensive rebound the ball to help our shooting percentage. That’s the type of team we have this year. If we don’t rebound the ball well, we’re not going to play well.”
VCU and Richmond meet for a second time Feb. 17 at Richmond.
RPI update: Dayton is still the top-ranked A-10 team in the RPI at No. 31. VCU is one spot back. Here’s where the rest of the league ranks: No. 47 Rhode Island; No. 91 La Salle; No. 101 St. Bonaventure; No. 105 St. Joseph’s; No. 109 Richmond; No. 110 Davidson; No. 126 George Mason; No. 128 George Washington; No. 159 Massachusetts; No. 210 Fordham; No. 226 Duquesne; No. 245 Saint Louis.
March Madness: In his most recent bracket update, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has three A-10 teams in the big dance: No. 9 seed Dayton vs. No. 8 Michigan State in Tulsa; No. 10 VCU vs. 7 Xavier in Greenville, S.C.; and No. 14 Richmond vs. No. 3 Butler in Milwaukee.