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Weekend Preview: Saint Mary’s-Dayton highlights weekend slate

Counting down what you need to know for this weekend in college basketball

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Dayton vs Syracuse Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Congratulations, guys. You’ve made it to the weekend. With college football still going strong, this weekend isn’t quite as heavy on basketball as some will be down the line, but there’s still plenty to keep an eye on.

Here’s everything you need to know.

5 Games to Watch

Saint Mary’s at Dayton, Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, FS Ohio/FS Pacific

This game feels like an old ESPN BracketBusters matchup and, frankly, we can’t freaking wait for it. Dayton will be playing without a couple of major frontcourt contributors, but holds home court as Randy Bennett brings his experienced bunch in.

Rhode Island vs. Cincinnati (Hall of Fame Tip-Off), Saturday 3 p.m. ET, WatchESPN

This is by far the most interesting matchup of the day at Mohegan Sun, as the Rams and Bearcats both entered the season with high expectations. Can Cincinnati’s vaunted defense slow down E.C. Matthews and a team that has averaged 90 points over the first three games?

Western Kentucky at Belmont, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, OVC Digital Network

Another BracketBuster special. These two historically successful mid-majors are both headed in the right direction and will have a chance at a quality confidence builder ahead of the conference season. If you’re unfamiliar with both programs, keep an eye on Belmont’s Evan Bradds, an OVC Player of the Year candidate, and Wester Kentucky’s Pancake Thomas, who transferred to the Hilltoppers from Hartford.

The Citadel at Iowa State, Sunday, 2 p.m. ET,

Why does a buy game make this list? Because The Citadel plays that run-and-gun system, while Iowa State can run up the score in a more traditional setting. This game can go one of two ways: the Bulldogs can keep it close with their frenetic style, or the plan can backfire and play into the hands of a Cyclones team that can run with anyone. Either way, it should be fun, even if it isn’t close.

Iona at Nevada, Sunday, 8 p.m. ET, Campus Insiders

Nevada had a ton of hype coming into the season, but missed an opportunity to prove it was warranted when it lost to Saint Mary’s by 18 on opening night. The Gaels coming in on Sunday aren’t exactly at the level of those from the West Coast Conference, but Iona is no joke either. UConn transfer Sam Cassell Jr. leads the way in a game KenPom expects to be tight.

4 Players to Watch

E.C. Matthews (Rhode Island)

We wrote about Matthews today, so we had to put him on here. In truth, you should be watching for him every single game. He’ll get his first opportunity of the season on a national stage this weekend when Rhode Island plays Cincinnati, then either Duke or Penn State.

Dejon Jarreau (UMass)

One of the more under-the-radar freshmen in the country, Jarreau has started his career strong. He’s shown the ability to fill up the stat sheet, averaging 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game over the Minutemen’s first three contests. UMass visits Holy Cross on Sunday.

Sam Downey (Yale)

We were all quick to count out Yale when Makai Mason went down, but that’s because we didn’t expect Downey to have the impact he has. He played about 15 minutes per game and averaged just under six points per game last year, so he was a contributor, but over the Bulldogs’ first two games this season, he has exploded. First, it was a 22-point, seven-rebound performance in a win over Washington, then a 17-point, seven-rebound game in an overtime victory against Lehigh.

Ioannis Dimakopoulos (UC Irvine)

I’ll be honest: Dimakopoulos is on this list because I had never heard of him, but watched UC Irvine play Cal on Wednesday and was relieved to see the Anteaters still have a monster on the roster after Mamadou N’Diaye’s departure. Dimakopoulos is only (lol) 7’2, but has improved steadily throughout his career. He even has a three-point shot! Must-see TV.

3 Storylines to Know

Big weekend for New York’s teams

Stony Brook, Manhattan, Hofstra, and Iona are a combined 1-5 to start the season, but each will have major opportunities to make statements this weekend. The Jaspers and Pride play each other, while Iona heads out to Nevada and Stony Brook visits Boston College.

A chance for hardware

Northern Iowa throttled Arizona State on Thursday but has a tough road ahead if it wants to win the Tire Pros Invitational. The Panthers face Oklahoma Friday night, and if they can get by the Sooners, would play No. 11 Xavier for the championship. In the Charleston Classic, College of Charleston faces Tacko Fall and UCF in the semifinals for the right to play defending national champion Villanova in the title game.

The Texas Southern Road Show

We’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating: Texas Southern does not play a home game until mid-January. Instead, the Tigers are traveling the nation collecting that guarantee money (and a couple wins while they’re at it). They’ll have a shot at a big road victory Saturday when they visit a La Salle team loaded with promise but still finding its footing. Mike Davis has high expectations for his program and it’s making the Tigers a dangerous program to face.

2 Questions we have

How will Archie Miller adjust to life (for now) without Pollard and Cunningham?

The Flyers will have to go a little smaller until they can get healthy, and that’s just fine; Scoochie Smith and Charles Cooke help make one of the best backcourt combos in the nation. But Dayton will need some sort of frontcourt presence. Watch for Ryan Mikesell, who played well over 25 minutes against Alabama earlier in the week.

Is Nevada for real?

We still might not know the answer to this question by the end of the weekend, but if the Wolfpack are for real, they should beat Iona. Missouri State transfer Marcus Marshall has started his Nevada career in phenomenal fashion and will be a fun player to follow as the season progresses.

1 Upset Pick

Stony Brook over Boston Col- oh, sorry you asked for an upset.

Manhattan over Temple

I watched Manhattan in the fascinating disaster that was their tip-off marathon game where a foul was called every two seconds. I’m interested to see how they play in a game where there aren’t 5,000 whistles. Temple has had a rough start to the season, having dropped back-to-back games against New Hampshire and UMass. This one could be fun.