The Dayton Flyers are playing their best basketball at the right time.
Dayton took care of business last week, dominating Duquesne and George Washington, both by 20+ points. The Flyers got the job done, and better yet, moved up greatly in an analytical standpoint. As of this writing. the Flyers are #53 on KenPom, which is the top ranked team in the Atlantic 10. They are also #59 in the NET, which also tops the conference. Saint Louis and Davidson are one and two spots behind the Flyers, respectively. Both KenPom and NET rankings are the highest that Dayton has reached all season.
With Dayton playing their best basketball of the season, it bodes well for the rest of their season schedule. As I mentioned last week, Dayton’s schedule is very light over the next few weeks before they play two tough games at Richmond and home against Davidson. Here’s the schedule run down after the past two wins against Duquesne and George Washington:
at Rhode Island
at Saint Joseph’s
at La Salle
The next four games are crucial for the Flyers in a few different ways. First, for the quest for the double bye in the A10 tournament. Since the conference realigned into its current 14 team conference and changed to its current tournament format (2014-15), 5 of the 6 total winners came from the double bye (the only team to win and not have a double bye was #6 seed Saint Louis in the 2018-19 season). Safe to say, Dayton has a great chance to win the A10 tournament with the double bye.
Secondly, these games are important for winning the A10 regular season title. This wasn’t something to think about until Davidson and Saint Louis both lost this past weekend to Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure, respectively. These were the only two teams that Dayton trailed in the standings by one or more games. With those losses, Dayton is tied for second with Saint Louis and VCU, and only trails first-place Davidson by one game. If Dayton takes care of business for the rest of the way, they could potentially force an A10 title showdown against Davidson at UD Arena to end the season.
Finally, Dayton needs these wins for any hope of an at-large berth. Dayton is still a good amount of spots back from any at-large consideration, so there is really nothing to be excited about right now. But if Dayton continues to win games, they will continue to rise up the bubble-board and get in the conversation, three Quadrant 4 losses be damned. Again, this really isn’t something to be excited for right now. We can simulate all the scenarios that it would take to get Dayton an at-large berth. Let’s keep it simple: Win games, and they’re in the conversation. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter.
The Week Ahead
Dayton has blown out opponents in 3 of their past 4 games, with the one game being the loss at Saint Louis. Otherwise, Dayton won by 30 at VCU, 21 vs Duquesne, and 26 vs George Washington. The Flyers are definitely playing their best basketball as we start heading toward March. This is great because Dayton has a quick turnaround on Monday as they travel to Kingston to play Rhode Island, a make-up game that was supposed to be the season opener for both teams.
Rhode Island has been free-falling the past few weeks, losing to GW, Richmond, Dayton, Fordham, UMass, and VCU, all in a row. Then the Rams decided to beat A10 leader Davidson at home this past Saturday. If you remember, Dayton played URI a few weeks ago in a slow moving, defensive-minded game that eventually ended up with the Flyers winning by two. Even though the margin of victory was only two points, it never felt like Dayton was going to lose that game. They just had a bit better of a performance than Rhode Island that resulted in a win for the Flyers on #FridA10.
For resume purposes, this is a Quad 2 game for Dayton and a game that they desperately need if you want to talk about at-large in a few weeks. It’s also a game that Dayton needs to keep pace with Davidson at the top of the conference. For Rhode Island, they desperately want to avoid the bottom 4 of the conference. They want to build on the momentum from the win against Davidson. This should be another low-scoring game on Monday night.
After Monday, Dayton gets a nice little break before they head out to Philadelphia to play Saint Joseph’s at Hagan Arena. Dayton has struggled over the years on Hawk Hill, including losing by 13 last season to the Hawks. Saint Joe’s is 4-8 in A10 play and is also trying to avoid the bottom 4 of the conference for the third season in a row. They have lost two in a row to Davidson and UMass. They play George Mason before Dayton comes to town on Saturday. The game at Saint Joe’s is a Quad 3 game for Dayton, aka a landmine that destroys resumes if you lose it.
Safe to say, it’s two more must win games for the Dayton Flyers. They are playing their best basketball right now and have to keep it up if they was to finish in the top 4, win the A10 title, or get an at-large berth. Let’s hope they are up for the challenge.