When and Where: Saturday, 6:30 ET at the United Center
TV: CBS Sports Network
Ranked their highest since 1967, the No. 13 Dayton Flyers are off to a historic start to the season. After beating Georgia and Virginia Tech by a combined 46 points at the Maui Invitational, the Flyers flew to Phoenix and downed Saint Mary’s by double digits. Now, Dayton will travel to Chicago for its final major non-conference test. Squaring off against the Colorado Buffaloes and Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate (ex Dayton commit) McKinley Wright, the Flyers will have their work cutout for them.
Colorado Buffaloes (9-2)
Despite being ranked for most of the season, Colorado fell out of the top 25 after losing to Kansas and Northern Iowa last week. Nevertheless, the Buffaloes are a dangerous team with a lot of talent. Since its two losses, Colorado has bounced back with wins over Colorado State and Prairie View A&M. The Buffaloes are led by a junior trio of Tyler Bey, McKinley Wright, and D’Shawn Schwartz. Bey has been Colorado’s most complete player this year, averaging 12.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. In addition, the Buffaloes will be able to match Dayton’s depth. Colorado has nine players averaging 11+ minutes per game and three players shooting better than 41% from three. Finally, the Buffaloes strength this year has been its defense, allowing just 59.7 points per contest. Still needing a signature non-conference win to add to its NCAA tournament resume, Colorado will give No. 13 Dayton its best shot on Saturday night.
One Colorado player Flyer fans are certain to have their eye on is point guard McKinley Wright. As you may already know, Wright originally committed to Dayton, but left after Archie Miller departed for Indiana. While the news of Wright’s de-commitment was troubling for the Flyers at first, it has ultimately worked out for both parties. The departure of Wright paved the way for Jalen Crutcher to sign with Dayton and Rodney Chatman to transfer from Chattanooga. I asked Ryan Mikesell about the hype of Dayton facing-off against Wright in Chicago. He said “He (Wright) is a really good player. He’s one of the best player’s in the Pac-12. It’s going to be a test for us so we’ll have to be ready to play.” Mikesell also said he talked to Wright prior to last year’s NIT game and wishes him all the best.
It might feel like an eternity ago, but Dayton and Colorado met earlier this calendar year in the first round of the NIT. For those who might not remember, Colorado edged Dayton 78-73 in that game. With many players returning from both sides, I expect both the Flyers and Buffaloes to watch some film from last season’s game. Following Tuesday night’s win over North Texas, Anthony Grant said “Obviously there are a lot of familiar faces from last year. They are a really talented team… I think it will be a great match-up and we’re looking forward to that challenge.” Returning almost everyone from last season and adding a great deal of talent, the Flyers certainly seem more equipped to face Colorado this time around.
While I fully expect Colorado to throw everything it has at Dayton, I think the Flyers will be too much on Saturday night. With Obi Toppin playing at an All-American level, four new highly talented transfers, and upperclassmen who have all improved since last year, Dayton is one of the most complete teams in the entire country. I see Dayton downing the Buffaloes 77-71 and flying home from Chicago with its sights set on a top 10 ranking.
Featured Image Via David Jablonski – Dayton Daily News