I’m back with more predictions, this time with my own University of Dayton Flyers. It is no secret that Dayton is a crap shoot this year. We, and by we I mean the fans and followers of the program, believe that this is a very talented team on paper. They brought in a top 30 recruiting class, by far the best in the A10, a few transfers including a Power 5 starter, and return talent from last year’s team that really grew by the end of the season. Safe to say, I’m drinking the Dayton Kool-Aid.
Now, that was the optimistic view, but there is plenty to be concerned about. The obvious is the chemistry. Regardless of the talent that we think this team has, it means nothing if the team doesn’t gel together and form some chemistry. Second is the youth. Dayton is going to be one of the youngest teams in the country this year. There are no seniors. There are technically 11 freshmen, even though Amzil, Brea, Blakney, and Nwokeji played on this team last season, some of which were starters. Still, it’s a young team, and young teams historically do not show success right away in the A10.
Pick which side you want, you are totally valid. I choose the optimistic side, and that’s what this first prediction is going to be based on. Let’s get to the schedule prediction.
The Non-Conference Schedule
There’s no buts about it, Dayton’s non-conference schedule is overall TERRIBLE. Out of 13 games, only 5 are against teams that have any sort of credibility to the tourney resume.
It starts out with 4 games against UIC, UMass-Lowell, Lipscomb, and Austin Peay. None of those teams are any good, none will be above 200 in KenPom. Those should be 4 wins right off the bat.
The positive is the Orlando tournament, with the opportunity to play Kansas, yet again, as long as Dayton beats Miami, with the likelihood of playing Alabama, Belmont, or Drake in the third game. All of those teams are set to have good teams as well. The goal of that tournament is go 2-1 at minimum with a win in the first game.
Next, Dayton comes home to play two more stinker teams, one against Alabama State with Northern Illinois shortly after. No doubt about it, 2 wins expected there.
Then the Flyers hit the toughest part of the schedule, with a trip to Dallas to play SMU. Then, Dayton returns home to play Virginia Tech before traveling to Ole Miss. Those three games should tell us more about these Flyers if the Orlando tournament hasn’t already.
Finally, Dayton wraps up the non-con with a home game against Southern, another buy game that should result in an easy win.
After all that, here’s my prediction on how those games will go:
Like I said before, I’m buying into this team being as talented on the floor as they appear to be on paper.
Dayton will not lose any of its first four games, nor will they lose to any of the buy games that are on their schedule. I’m talking about the first four teams, Alabama St, NIU, and Southern. Dayton is at a point in their program that they will not lose those games anymore. If they do, something terrible has happened.
I like Dayton to beat a Miami team that was very underwhelming last season and will most likely be again this season. Kansas is slated to be a top 5 team in the country this season, which I will give Dayton their first loss of the season. I do think Belmont and Drake will be good teams, which I believe this Dayton team will prevail against, although this is the sleeper game that could sneak up on the Flyers if they are not ready to go.
As for the other three marquee games on the schedule, I like Dayton going 2-1 with wins at home to Virginia Tech and at Ole Miss, but a loss to a projected good SMU team on the road. The Flyer Faithful have long awaited a return to the arena for a big time game, which is what I think will help them beat a decent Virginia Tech team. Dayton has had a good history against Ole Miss, especially on the road, beating the Rebels the last time they were in Oxford (Who can forget the infamous Devin Oliver bank three to win against Marshall Henderson?)
As a result, that puts the Dayton non-conference record at 11-2, a very good mark that sets them up for an NCAA tournament at-large bid going into the A-10 slate.
The Conference Schedule
I have already made a post about the entire A10 schedule and posted those predictions there. To stay consistent, I’ve copied my prediction for Dayton below:
Looking at my results, I like Dayton to win their first four games, their first three which will be tough, playing at Rhode Island before hosting heavy A10 favorites St. Bonaventure. Shortly after, they host a tricky VCU team that is a mystery after losing two of their best players to injury. They then travel to Foggy Bottom to play George Washington, who is not projected to be very good this season. Nonetheless, 4-0 is on the table if all goes well for the Flyers.
Dayton then hosts the Billikens of Saint Louis, where this will be Dayton’s first slip up, and yes it will be at home. A home slip up happens every year for Dayton, and I think this is where they slip up against what I think will be a very talented Saint Louis team.
Dayton will take care of Duquesne and Fordham before heading to George Mason. As much of an optimist about this team as I am, I still believe this team will drop a head scratcher. That one head-scratcher will be against Mason on the road. Mason should be a decent team, but there’s always one game where Dayton slips up against a team it should beat. It’s this one for me.
I like Dayton to beat URI again at home before two tough road games at VCU and at SLU. Both of those games will be losses for me. Once again, those mid-conference season woes happen to every team, and that’s what I think will happen to this team as well.
The back half of the schedule is somewhat light for Dayton, though. The Flyers have historically played well against these teams, both home and away, so I think Dayton cruises the rest of the way. This puts Dayton at 14-4 in conference play and 25-6 overall. That should be plenty to get into the NCAA tournament as an at-large team, assuming the teams Dayton beats are good resume builders by the end of the season.
For the cautious fans…
If you are not totally drinking the Dayton Kool-Aid, that is perfectly fine and justified. There are plenty of question marks for this team, and that could lead them to not being as good as it looks on paper. So let’s put down the Kool-Aid for a second and give the schedule a redo, this time for the more cautious fans. Here’s what I think could happen if you aren’t as high on this team as I am.
So let’s say Dayton doesn’t capitalize on the non-conference slate. I would say no matter what, they lose to Kansas. After that, Belmont or Drake sneaks up on them, and they leave Orlando at 1-2, 4-2 overall.
Even with some mediocre Dayton teams, they still get up for big home games like the one against Virginia Tech, so we can still give them a win there. However, they could easily still lose to SMU and Ole Miss on the road. That leaves Dayton at 9-4 overall, not bad but not great either.
Then the conference season happens. My result for the cautious fan is 10-8. I added losses on the road to URI, Richmond, and the infamous stinker that they always seem to have at Saint Joe’s. Not to mention, let’s say that they don’t beat the conference favorites, St. Bonaventure, at home. Keep the losses from earlier, and you have 10-8, which is 19-12, a bad season by this program’s standards.
Let’s meet in the middle…
However, if you want to be somewhere in the middle (I won’t do another prediction), I would say add 3 or 4 wins to get to 22 or 23 wins, which puts Dayton on the bubble for an at-large (depending on what losses you turn into wins), which means they have to find some quality wins in the A10 Tournament. This is normally where I would be at for any Dayton team, but this season, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. Why not?
Have any thoughts on this Dayton team? Let me know in the replies. Also, this is not the Gospel, I don’t know what is actually going to happen. Honestly, it’s probably all going to be wrong. But that’s the fun of predicting, right?