For the first time since 2007-08, the Rhode Island Rams will face the Dayton Flyers twice in a season. Perhaps that means Rhody has twice as many chances to beat them with a last-second shot. That seems to be the formula in recent years; the Rams have topped Dayton on the last basket of the game in three of their past five meetings. Last year’s affair was no different – Xavier Munford buried a three at the buzzer to lift URI to a 75-72 win at the Ryan Center. Are we in store for another heart-attack win this season? Let’s take a look.
2012-13 Record: 17-14 (7-9 in the Atlantic 10)
Key Losses: G Kevin Dillard, C Josh Benson, F Matt Derenbecker
Key Returners: G Vee Sanford, F Devin Oliver, F Dyshawn Pierre
Player to Watch: F Dyshawn Pierre
Pierre ranks third in scoring on Dayton’s list of returning players, but he proved to Rhody last year that he can be dangerous. The 6’6″ forward racked up a double-double in February, dropping 15 points and snagging 10 rebounds. And he was only a freshman. Pierre only averaged 8.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in his first collegiate season, but expect those numbers to increase. URI will need to work on limiting him a little more this season if they’re going to keep their streak versus the Flyers alive.
Predictions: Rhode Island 77 – Dayton 63 (Jan. 25)
Rhode Island 65 – Dayton 63 (Feb. 12)
Picking a split is always the safe bet, and we’ve certainly been guilty of that (see: George Mason and Saint Joseph’s), but history tells us otherwise. The Rams have fared well against the Flyers recently, so there’s no reason to think they can’t take both of these games. Oh, and Rhody will win the second game at the buzzer. Because of course they will.