Pregame Shootaround: Important matchups in Atlantic 10, Big South highlight schedule

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Dayton at George Washington, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

Dayton arrives in the nation’s capital one game out of first place in the Atlantic 10, setting up what is a very important game for both the Flyers and Colonials. At 6-3, Mike Lonergan’s team is two games behind VCU and they need a win to remain in the regular season title race. GW has some talented options in the front court, led by Kevin Larsen, but taking advantage of Dayton’s lack of size has been a task easier said than done for the majority of their opponents. The guard play should be solid, with the Flyers being led by Jordan Sibert and Scoochie Smith and GW countering with Joe McDonald and Kethan Savage.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE NIGHT: High Point at Coastal Carolina, 9:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

This is one of two quality matchups in the Big South tonight, with Charleston Southern visiting Radford in the other. Coastal Carolina, trails High Point and Radford by a game in the conference standings, and with Cliff Ellis’ team having already beaten High Point on New Year’s Eve a sweep of the season series would be a nice tiebreaker to own should they need it at the end of the regular season. Josh Cameron leads a balanced attack for the Chanticleers, who have five players averaging between 9.3 and 13.5 points per game. High Point is led by electric forward John Brown, who’s averaging 18.2 points per game and is one of the best finishers in college basketball.

WHO’S ON UPSET ALERT?: Iona (-11) vs. Siena, 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

This matchup changed when it was announced Friday afternoon that Iona junior guard A.J. English was suspended for his actions following the team’s win over Saint Peter’s last weekend. Without English, the Gaels will move forward with the talented duo of forward David Laury and freshman guard Shadrac Casimir. However, that could open the door for a Siena team that has struggled defensively at times this season. Not having to worry about English will help Jimmy Patsos’ team, and they’re facing an Iona squad that has its own issues defensively.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. Yale looks to move to 5-0 in Ivy League play as they host Dartmouth. James Jones’ Bulldogs, led by forward Justin Sears, have limited opponents to 38.4% shooting in their four Ivy League games thus far.

2. Harvard (3-1) looks to remain on the Bulldogs’ heels as they visit Brown, with a matchup with Yale scheduled for Saturday night. With the Crimson having already lost a conference game, they can’t afford to lose to the Bears. 2-1 Princeton visits Columbia in another key Ivy League matchup.

3. Charleston Southern visits Radford in the other key Big South tilt, with the Highlanders tied with High Point for first place and Bucs a game back. Radford’s won eight straight, with forward Javonte Green (15.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg) leading the way.

4. North Florida, tied atop the Atlantic Sun standings with FGCU, looks to move to 7-1 as they take on Jacksonville. Matt Driscoll’s Ospreys won the first meeting by 23 (86-63) January 10, shooting 50 percent from the field with Dallas Moore scoring a game-high 20 points.

5. Another key game in the MAAC is 7-5 Canisius visiting 8-4 Manhattan, with the top six teams in the conference moving directly into the quarterfinals of next month’s conference tournament. Manhattan, which still has two games to play against first place Iona, still has hopes of making a run at the regular season title.