Dayton has officially hit the backend of its non-conference schedule, with just Western Michigan, Presbyterian and Georgia Southern remaining before the Flyers open up league play against Richmond (at home against the Spiders is a perfect beginning to UD’s A10 campaign). This is the time of the season when everyone who shows up at the Sweater Centre should be allowed to walk on the court whenever they want to. To those of you attending all three of the remaining non-conference games, seek help, find Jesus.
With the chances of an at-large bid shuttered after the Mississippi State loss, the Flyers move into a precarious, yet not completely unexpected, phase: a three month period where UD can hopefully stay injury-free, get some key minutes for its younger guys and become consistent enough to be a factor come A10 tournament time. I just threw a lot of cliches at you in order to avoid stating the obvious — the win-loss record isn’t going to matter all that much.
I can tell you exactly how the rest of the season will unfold. UD will have some encouraging wins, some dubious losses (don’t’ be shocked if the Flyers serve up a shit sandwich over the next three games) and will give us just enough hope to pay attention when the team heads to Brooklyn in March. That’s going to be the rest of the season in a nutshell. Hate it or love it, these are the cards we’ve been dealt. We didn’t choose the mid-major life, it chose us (technically, we DID choose the mid-major life).
While Georgia Southern is the most likely team to “upset” Dayton out of the three remaining non-conference opponents, Western Michigan’s chances of beating the Flyers are likely just as good. The Broncos are 5-5 and have vomit-inducing losses to Nicholls State and USC-Upstate. WMU did beat a common opponent, Detroit, by 13 and gave Michigan a scare last weekend, so Western is just good enough to catch a team like UD napping.
Seth Dugan is a true seven-footer that clogs the lane for WMU. And he’s not just a very tall guy that will die at a disturbingly young age and have his body donated for medical science, Dugan is currently the Broncos’ leading scorer and rebounder. Dugan operates around the rim offensively but isn’t much of a factor defensively, which would cause me to throw things if I was on the Bronco coaching staff.
Starting guard Michael Flowers is beginning to blossom into the Broncos’ top offensive weapon. He is coming off a thirty-one point game against Michigan and has his heart set on ruining what should be a nice little night out for the Sweater Nation. Senior wing Josh Davis is WMU’s version of ex-Flyer Chris Johnson. He’s lanky, can knock down threes and rebounds like his life depends on it.
Dayton comes into tonight’s game as thirteen point favorites, which, at first glance, looks like an insane amount of points given UD’s struggles this season. However, WMU is a sub-par defensive team, shoots the three worse than Dayton and is one of the most turnover-prone teams on the D1 level. Hence, there’s evidence that the spread is warranted (but, gotdamn, you have to like 13 points if you’re a betting man).
Flyers 71, Broncos 61.