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Thoughts on Dayton’s first round matchup against Wichita State

If you’re a Dayton fan and live under a rock, you’ll be pleased to know that the Flyers received a 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This probably isn’t the first time you’re hearing this. But the tough news? They have a date with what’s said to be one of the most under-seeded teams in the Big Dance: Wichita State. It’s no secret that Gregg Marshall and the Shockers have had a good thing going ever since making the Final Four in 2013. This year’s team isn’t as good as the 35-1 team that earned a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but these 2017 Shockers are still pretty damn good. They’re ranked #8 overall by Kenpom, and some major Bracketologists had the Shockers as high as a 7 or 8 seed heading into Selection Sunday.

Over-seeding and under-seeding

Typically, the Selection Committee always messes something up, and a lot of people believe that Wichita State is severely under-seeded. I’m really not sure what to think. The Shockers went 30-4 this season but lost to all of the decent teams they played. Wichita State is 1-3 against teams that made the NCAA Tournament, and the only win in that mix is over 16 seed South Dakota State. The Shockers have won their last 15 games and ride into the NCAA Tournament hot, but again, they really haven’t beat anyone. I’m curious as to why Kenpom has the Shockers ranked 8th overall. They have the 12th best offense and 19th best defense in the league according to Kenpom’s metrics, They have the 3rd best shooting percentage from long range, and they rank top 10 defensively in effective field goal percentage, 2 point field goal defense, and defensive rebounding.

From a numbers standpoint, it’s easy to see why the Shockers have gotten a lot of praise, but without any great wins, I’m skeptical as to how this team s going to perform this year. I think the Shockers are under-seeded, and to be honest, Dayton probably didn’t deserve as high as a 7 seed, but this game should be close than most are making it out to be. Kenpom gives Wichita State a 75% chance of winning in Indianapolis, and the Shockers open as a 6 point favorite over the Flyers according to Vegas. No one is giving the Flyers any love.

Off to a slow start

If Dayton wants to win this game, a game where it is becoming almost a heavy underdog as a 7 seed, it has to come out hot to start. Wichita State has, statistically, one of the best defenses in the nation, which could spell a lot of trouble for a Dayton team that’s struggled to score in the first half on multiple occasions this season. Games against St. Mary’s, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Davidson featured this slow start, and against a team like Wichita State, it will be impossible to recover from a 20 point halftime beating. There’s no coming back.

Dayton just has to hit its shots, and there’s nothing else to say about it. Wichita State’s defense is more than likely going to lock the Flyers down, and if Dayton fails to make lay-ups or easier shots in the paint, it’s going to get run out of the building early. The Flyers will have a decent crowd, as Indianapolis isn’t too far from Dayton, but Wichita State is going to bring a fan section too. A home crowd will not be enough to win this game. Dayton really has to sharpen things up heading into this game, because they’re a hot pick for a first round exit.

Seniors get it done in March

One thing that could help Dayton win this game is its senior class. There’s something about a team loaded with seniors playing in the NCAA Tournament that tends to do pretty well. The Flyers have plenty of those, and the Shockers don’t play any seniors in their rotation. Experience is key, but that isn’t going to be enough alone. Dayton has to come prepared to do everything. The Flyers have to come and lock down the perimeter. They’re going to have to find a way to shoot over one of the best defensive teams in the country. They’re going to have to rebound against a team that’s top 40 in both offensive and defensive rebounding this year.

I don’t know what to think of Wichita State

I’ve trusted the eye-test and the numbers to draw the conclusion that Wichita State is really good and is probably one of the worst first round matchups for Dayton. That said, a game for Wichita State against Oklahoma State this year makes me skeptical. The Shockers gave up 93 points to the Cowboys who absolutely torched the nets and almost won that game by 30. I don’t know if this Wichita State team is going to crumble against a team that’s not from the Missouri Valley Conference. History shows that that’s not the case, but this team also is without Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. Again, everyone is very high on the Shockers, and I see why. I don’t doubt that Wichita State is the heavy favorite, but I think Dayton has a better chance than what most people are giving it.

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Grant Labedz is a college basketball superfan who loves the entire sport but definitely has favorites in the A-10 and the Big Ten. He has written for ...
Teams that can't score go home in the first two rounds. Teams that can't defend go home in the next two. The semi is decided by coaching. And the championship game is decided by talent.
Well put. Unfortunately for Dayton, it's lacked in the first category at times. Need to make shots. Need to get hot.