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Atlantic 10 releases schedule, Dayton to visit VCU on February 28

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The Atlantic 10, which had six teams reach the NCAA tournament last season, released its full schedule on Wednesday and there are a number of quality games on the slate. Dayton, which reached the Elite Eight last year, and VCU are expected to be two of the teams battling it out for conference supremacy in 2014-15 and they’re scheduled to meet just once.

That game will be played on February 28 in Richmond, and the contest should have a major impact on the Atlantic 10 race. Conference play tips off with six games on Saturday, January 3 with three of those contests scheduled to be broadcast on NBC Sports Network. Among those games is Davidson’s inaugural game as an Atlantic 10 member, with Bob McKillop’s Wildcats hosting Dayton. The other games to be played on that day are Dayton hosting Duquesne and Rhode Island visiting reigning regular season champion Saint Louis.

Some other conference games that will be interesting to watch are:

– VCU at Rhode Island, January 13: URI’s received some attention this offseason, with the expectation being that Dan Hurley’s team will take a step forward in 2014-15. We’ll learn some things about E.C. Matthews and company when VCU visits the Ryan Center.

– Dayton at Massachusetts, January 29: The Minutemen lost Chaz Williams but they return some key pieces from last season, and West Virginia transfer Jabarie Hinds is now eligible to play. The combination of their style of play and Dayton’s depth should make for a good contest in Amherst.

– VCU at George Washington, February 14: There are some good college basketball matchups scheduled for Valentine’s Day and this is one of them. Mike Lonergan’s building a good program at George Washington, and the Colonials should be among the contenders in the Atlantic 10 this season.

– Saint Louis at Duquesne, February 25: The Billikens will have to replace a very successful senior class, a group that included Jordair Jett and Dwayne Evans Jr. Can Jim Crews keep the momentum going? That’s one of the big questions hovering over the A-10 this offseason. This game will include a Duquesne team led by guards Micah Mason and Derrick Colter.

– La Salle at Saint Joseph’s, March 4: Both teams took some key personnel hits at the end of last season, but it doesn’t get much better than a battle between Big 5 rivals (not sure which of their two meetings will count in the Big 5 standings). And by this point in the season, Saint Joseph’s sophomore DeAndre Bembry could be regarded as one of the best players in the conference.

The NBC Sports Network Atlantic 10 schedule (conference games):

January 3: Duquesne at Dayton, 1:00 p.m.
January 3: Rhode Island at Saint Louis, 3:00 p.m.
January 3: Richmond at Davidson, 5:00 p.m.

January 8: George Mason at Richmond, 7:00 p.m.

January 10: George Washington at La Salle, 12:30 p.m.

January 17: Saint Louis at Dayton, 12:30 p.m.
January 17: Rhode Island at Massachusetts, 2:30 p.m.
January 17: George Mason at George Washington, 4:30 p.m.

January 18: Saint Joseph’s at St. Bonaventure, 2:30 p.m.

January 22: George Washington at Fordham, 7:00 p.m.

January 31: Davidson at Saint Joseph’s, 12:30 p.m.

February 5: Richmond at La Salle, 6:30 p.m.

February 7: VCU at St. Bonaventure, 2:00 p.m.
February 7: Saint Louis at Fordham, 4:00 p.m.

February 8: Rhode Island at Richmond, 2:30 p.m.

February 14: St. Bonaventure at Dayton, 12:30 p.m.

February 15: Saint Joseph’s at Fordham, 2:30 p.m.

February 21: Dayton at Duquesne, 2:00 p.m.

February 22: La Salle at Saint Louis, 2:30 p.m.

February 28: Rhode Island at La Salle, 12:30 p.m.

March 7: Massachusetts at George Washington, 3:30 p.m.
March 7: George Mason at VCU, 5:30 p.m.

NBC Sports Network will also air the second round and quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament, which runs from March 11-15 and will once again be played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: