Dayton's Xeyrius Williams, Charles Cooke and Kendall Pollard share a laugh during a game against Virginia Commonwealth on Jan. 27, 2017, at the Siegel Center in Richmond, Va.

Halfway through A-10 schedule: Dayton Flyers still have edge

VCU, tied for first, has tough road in final nine games

Favorite: Dayton was the preseason favorite and remains the favorite with nine games to play. The Flyers (16-5, 7-2) are tied with Virginia Commonwealth (17-5, 7-2). VCU beat Dayton 73-68 in Richmond but has to travel to Dayton on March 1 in the second-to-last game of the regular season. predicts Dayton will finish 14-4 and VCU will finish 13-5.

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Easiest remaining schedule of contenders: Richmond (13-9, 7-3) plays only two teams with winning records in its final eight games (La Salle and VCU).

Toughest remaining schedule of contenders: In its nine remaining games, VCU plays five teams in the A-10 that have winning records (St. Bonaventure, Davidson, Richmond, Rhode Island and Dayton), and of those, only the Davidson game is at home.

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Player of the year: Richmond senior forward T.J. Cline ranks fifth in scoring (18.8), second in rebounding (8.2) and second in assists (5.5). He’s a big reason the Spiders (7-3) are only a half game out of first.

Richmond’s T.J. Cline makes a pass against Dayton on Jan. 19, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff
Photo: David Jablonski

A-10 first team: puts Cline on the first team along with Davidson’s Jack Gibbs, Dayton’s Charles Cooke, Davidson’s Peyton Aldridge and St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams.

Newcomer of the year: St. Bonaventure junior guard Matt Mobley, a transfer from Central Connecticut, ranks fourth in scoring (19.2).

Freshman of the year: DeJon Jarreau, of UMass, was the top-ranked A-10 recruit in 2016 (No. 63 in the nation, according to ESPN) has lived up to the hype. He’s averaging 9.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists.

Most improved player: George Mason senior Marquise Moore has improved his scoring average from 11.4 to 17.4 and his rebounds from 6.1 to 10.5.

Most improved team: La Salle (12-8, 6-3) finished last a year ago at 4-14. It improved this season in part because of the addition of three transfers: B.J. Johnson (Syracuse); Pookie Powell (Memphis); and Demetrius Henry (South Carolina).

Most disappointing team: George Mason (14-8, 4-5) had a successful run in the non-conference season, beating Northern Iowa and Penn State and finishing 10-3. It has been up and down in the A-10. It swept two games from UMass (12-11, 2-8) and won at Richmond but also lost twice to Saint Louis (7-15, 3-7).

Coach of the year: Archie Miller has the Flyers in contention despite a flurry of injuries to starters, not to mention the death of Steve McElvene in the offseason. If UD win the conference, he’ll be the first UD coach to win this award since Oliver Purnell in 1997-98.

Dayton lost 73-68 on Jan. 27, 2017, at the Siegel Center in Richmond, Va.

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