Dayton brings its twenty-one home winning streak into the NCAA tournament later tonight. There’s no use fretting over the seeding and the somewhat exclusionary nature of the play-in game. As @ShoweyD pointed out on Twitter earlier this week, UD’s under-seeding has been universally castigated in just about every college basketball circle known to man. At this point it is accepted science that the Flyers received a royal screwjob from the NCAA Tournament Committee.
I personally really liked this excerpt from Sam Vecenie over at CBSSports.com:
For the life of me, I can’t figure out what the committee was doing on this one. A top-40 KenPom rating? Check. Top-30 RPI? Check. 25 wins? Check. Winning record against the RPI top-100? Check. There is legitimately no world where the Flyers on the 11-line makes sense to me, no world where UCLA being ranked ahead of the Flyers makes sense to me, and no world where UConn beating SMU earlier this afternoon in the AAC Championship game causing the Flyers to be left at home makes sense to me (exactly what would have happened had the Huskies beaten the Mustangs). The committee has a lot of explaining to do here.
Regardless, we are not about that rear-view life here at the Blackburn Review, we accept our fate as mid-major fans and know that our UD fandom is a lifelong lesson reinforcing that life isn’t always fair (although last year’s Elite Eight run was certainly the program’s “It Gets Better” campaign).
After the blinding hot rage had left my body Sunday night, I started to realize that Dayton is in a rather enviable position. Outside of having to play an extra game, albeit one in the treacherous cavern known as the Decibel Dungeon, the path to glory is about as manageable as the Flyers could have hoped for.
The one resounding criticism that surrounds the play-in game is that it doesn’t feel like an NCAA Tournament game. And it doesn’t — which obviously plays even more to Dayton’s advantage. Playing in front of 12,000 Sweaters will put the Flyers at ease and take away some of the pressure that commonly results from elimination games (the fact that around 5,000 of them won’t live to see next season a mere side note in what hopefully will be a two-hour love fest for the team in the dark visitors jerseys).
Still needing reassurance? How about a picture of our captain overseeing his troops:
“He’s a true legend. Like an electron, he’s simultaneously everywhere and nowhere at all.” –@Adam_1224[title type=”fancy-h3″ color=””]Overview[/title]
At 25-8, 14-4 in the Mountain West, Boise State probably deserved an at-large bid without the needless entanglement known as the play-in game, but such is life (and UCLA would never be asked to slum that low). The Broncs were the Mountain West’s regular season co-champion, sharing that achievement with San Diego State. Since losing four in a row in late December and early January, the boys from Idaho reeled off victories in 14 of their last 15 regular-season games — which included a pair of wins against the Aztecs.
Boise is going to get up a lot of shots from the perimeter, their bread and butter, as they currently shoot at a nearly 40% clip behind the three-point arc. As we saw in UD’s losses to Davidson and VCU, a team that is connecting from the outside will cause Dayton headaches. Archie Miller has basically dared teams to beat him from the outside all season, and for the most part he’s come out ahead. The Flyers won’t have to concern itself with BSU’s size, as the Broncos don’t have anyone taller than 6’9″ averaging more than 10 minutes per game.
Usually when I do a little due diligence on UD opponents I come away thinking they are less talented than I had first envisioned, which permits me to talk myself into a sure Dayton victory (the exceptions being the game at Arkansas and VCU this season). I’ve found myself doing just the opposite with Boise, the way they like to operate offensively is an immediate concern, Dayton would be well-served to limit the Broncos second-chance opportunities — which, yeah, pretty much doesn’t need to be said.
He’s a goddamn speed merchant.[/column] [column size=”col-3″]
A threat every time he touches the ball.[/column] [column size=”col-3″]
Wide-bodied Aussie, can step out and hit shots from the perimeter.[/column] [column size=”col-3″]
Kid with size that moves very well with the ball in his hands.[/column] [/row] [row] [column size=”col-3″]
A steady influence at the shooting guard spot.[/column] [column size=”col-3″]
Another Aussie, can defend and knock down shots.[/column] [column size=”col-3″]
He’d be on Gonzaga if he was more talented.[/column] [column size=”col-3″]
The highest rated recruit in Boise State basketball history, you heard me.[/column] [/row] [title type=”fancy-h3″ color=””]Numbers Game[/title]
Saw this quote and my head was nodding along as I was reading it like “yuuuuup.”
The Flyers will be the only team in the field that won’t have to hop a flight between now and Wednesday night. They’ll also benefit from an atmosphere in the UD Arena that will be unlike any other. Expect at least 10,000 Flyers fans to pack a building that holds close to 14,000 — and please believe the place will be a mad house for all 40 minutes that the Flyers are on the court. Given the circumstances, it seems nearly impossible for Dayton to lose this game.
Dayton has every conceivable advantage, as well as the edge talent-wise. A loss would be crippling, assuring that the Gem City Cagers weren’t even in the Tournament proper. No one wants to see that happen, what a wasted opportunity that would be.
Flyers win, 77-70. The Sweater Centre moves seventy miles to the east in Columbus, where UD will face New Big East member Providence on Friday night.