Death is Afoot

Death is Afoot

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So, as you may have heard, UD opens up its Atlantic Ten tournament with Horseshoe University. Not a great draw, but finishing 12th place in the league doesn’t necessarily assure a smooth road ahead. Obviously, the Bulldogs eat March up like it’s their breakfast, so Dayton will certainly have their hands full tomorrow. But fret not, all hope is not lost.

From Swampy’s buddy, Ken Pomeroy:

Dayton has to be among the best 12-seeds in a conference tournament. Keep in mind the A-10 has 16 teams, and there isn’t usually going to be much difference between the 5 through 12 seeds, anyway. But the Flyers are better than their 7-9 record, having been handled only in road games against VCU and Saint Louis. In past seasons, they would have been forced to play their first game on the road, but this season the entire event will be played within the walls of the Barclays Center. VCU remains a slight favorite despite blowing a 16-point lead at Temple in their regular-season finale.

Those are kind words, Kenny. Pomeroy makes an obvious point — with so much parity in the A10 there is no telling who is going to show up and play their way to an automatic bid. Some teams, like La Salle, likely on the NCAA bubble, come in with more pressure on their shoulders than others. Some teams, like Dayton, have absolutely nothing to lose. Literally nothing.

There isn’t a team in the field that is unbeatable in any sense of the word. VCU is the biggest threat primarily because of their style of play, but does SLU, Temple or La Salle give you major cause for concern? They shouldn’t, and I’m sure Archie and Co. think there is a possibility that UD could get on a roll if things break their way. The top five teams have lost a combined 11 times to the squads that finished sixth through 16th in the standings. The A10 is sort of a microcosm for college basketball as a whole this season, a few teams in the top-tier, a bunch of blah and meh, and then some schools that probably shouldn’t have athletic programs.

Could Dayton win this thing? Sure. Can La Salle play well enough to cut down the nets on Sunday? Absolutely. What about Richmond, do they have a chance? I don’t know, I guess. Charlotte, can they get to the title game? No, definitely not.

So what does KP have to say about it? Below are his odds, breaking each team’s chances down round by round.

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2.7%….okay, let’s just take it one game at a time then.

According to KenPom’s projections, either Saint Louis or VCU would win the tournament 65% of the time. After that, it’s almost anyone’s ballgame. Weird things happen. Fires get started, fights break out in the bathroom, lovers fall out of love. Anarchy reigns supreme.

Who does Eamonn Brennan (don’t ask) like as an upset pick in the first round?

Potential upset victim: Were Butler to lose in the first round to Dayton, it would surely be greeted with outright dismay, but the Bulldogs have often been overrated this season, particularly as they’ve struggled in the back half of conference play. If the Bulldogs’ scoring goes cold, they haven’t quite proved their defensive chops enough for me to automatically assume they won’t get knocked off. I’m not saying it’s going to happen — Brad Stevens scouts and prepares his team as well as any coach in the country — just that it wouldn’t be totally surprising.

Brad Stevens’ club lost to fucking Charlotte and went down to VCU and received a 32 point pink-socking. This isn’t your father’s older brother’s Butler. However, we will need Matty D to take out Rotnei Clarke again, so reconsider all of  the preceding paragraphs with that caveat.

And let’s not forget this, Vegas has Butler as a 3.5 point favorite. Delusion is a powerful thing, my friends. But it’s been fueling Flyer fans for more decades than I care to admit. Pope Frank will be watching, so should you.

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Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o’ D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.

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