Dayton Flyers vs. Virginia Tech Hokies – Maui Invitational Semifinal
When: Tuesday, November 26th at 8:00 pm ET
Coming off a blowout win over Georgia on Monday, the Dayton Flyers are ready for round two in Maui. After winning its first round match-up 80-61, Dayton expected to play Michigan State in a Tuesday night showdown. The Spartans, however, were upset by Virginia Tech 71-66. While the Flyers are no longer going to face No. 3 ranked Michigan State, they can not afford to take 6-0 Virginia Tech lightly. With a spot in the championship game on the line, tonight’s Dayton vs. Virginia Tech semifinal should be a thriller.
Still undefeated with wins over Clemson and Michigan State, the Virginia Tech Hokies are off to an incredible start this year. Despite being young and a little undersized, the Hokies have proven their ability to hang with, and beat, anyone. Virginia Tech’s early season success can be attributed to two main reasons: threes and depth. Shooting a collective 43% from behind the arc, the Hokies have a number of guys who can light it up. In addition, Virginia Tech currently has nine players averaging more than 12 minutes per game. While Dayton certainly has the depth to match Virginia Tech, the Flyers will have a major challenge on their hands in terms of contesting threes. If Dayton fails to guard the perimeter consistently, the Hokies will be certain to make them pay.
As for Dayton, the Flyers enter this one following their best defensive performance in a long time. The Flyers forced 23 Georgia turnovers and held the Bulldogs’ two star players to a combined 11 points on 4-14 shooting. This was largely thanks to Rodney Chatman completely shutting down future NBA lottery pick Anthony Edwards. If the Flyers want to beat Virginia Tech, they will need more lockdown perimeter defense from Chatman, Dwayne Cohill, etc. In addition Dayton must feed Obi Toppin like it did early against Georgia. Toppin scored 12 points in the first four minutes against the Bulldogs’ elite big men. Now facing an undersized Virginia Tech squad, Toppin should have ample opportunity to feast again. As long as the Flyers don’t fall in love with settling for threes (they’re shooting just 34% on the year), they should be able to take advantage of the Hokies’ lack of size.
Prediction (Line: Dayton -4)
With all eyes of the college basketball world on this game tonight, we should be in for a fun battle. I expect Virginia Tech to hit some threes and keep themselves within striking distance. In the end, however, I think Dayton will prove to be too much. I trust Dayton’s guards to do a good job defending the perimeter and not allow the Hokies to get on a roll shooting threes. The fact that Virginia Tech just played a hard fought game against Michigan State could leave their shooters with some tired legs, playing in Dayton’s advantage as well. Additionally, on offense, the Flyers can attack Virginia Tech inside and force its defense to collapse. I see Dayton pulling this one out 77-68 and advancing to the championship game.
Featured Image Via David Jablonski – Dayton Daily News