As always, these thoughts have been gleaned from the best of all basketball sites, KenPom -dot- com. Here is KenPom's Dayton page, for referencing purposes and things.
Here we are, just a win away from the Sweet 16. A win accomplishes our general goals, for the most part, in this Tournament. That isn't to say we shouldn't set our sights higher, but a Sweet 16 year is a great year, any time you get it. Particularly with how much we rebuilded and stuff.
However, it won't be easy. Not by a longshot. Coming in, I was already complaining about having to play West Virginia in the second round. I just couldn't imagine a scenario where Dayton could beat the Mountaineers. Of course they did, and in extremely convincing fashion, by beating the 'Eers at their own game. A rough-and-tough, out-physical you defense combined with a host of players who can get to the rack or pull up from mid-range. Oh, and overflowing athleticism, as well. They have that too.
Let's just say that I'm nervous. Nervous as hell. I'm not quite so sure just how much sleep I'll get tonight. If this were baseball, and we got one of those nifty 7-game series, I'd put my life savings we'd come out on top. It isn't a sure thing, of course, but we are the better team. Maybe with a 'much' in there, even. But in the one-and-done ridiculousness of March, who the hell knows.
Could they beat us? Abso-frickin'-lutely.
And that is enough to scare me to death.
Dayton is an at-large team from the Atlantic 10. They were an odd 'bubble' team. Nobody really mentioned them too often as a true NCAA Tournament contender, then they win a couple of games and bam, everyone and their mother wrote them off as a stone-cold lock. With all of the mind-numbing bubble talk that went on those last few days, the Flyers were never mentioned as a potential bubbler. And, alas, here they are.
Before their win over West Virginia, they hadn't won a game in the Tournament since 1990. This, of course, leads back to the Oliver Purnell era, which Purnell then used to catapult himself to Clemson, where he has continued the streak of failing to win a Tournament game. To replace Purnell, the Flyers hired Brian Gregory. Gregory has had a tenuous time in Dayton, piling up plenty of winning seasons but few postseason experiences to tack alongside. This year, though. This year is different.
This year, as mentioned, was devoid of any huge, monstrous W. Well, that isn't entirely true. They did beat Marquette in the non-conference. But it received very little pub, for whatever reason. They beat Auburn, too, but that's just meh. They are a very dangerous team, but not necessarily a consistent one. They were bitten by the same, pesky UMass bug, but it was on the road. And that's another consistent part about this team: they never lost at home, and only once in a truly neutral location (vs. Duquesne in the A-10 Tournament). So, who knows, maybe if there isn't thousands of screaming fans yelling at them, and there shouldn't be Sunday morning, they are just a better team.
Yeah, that just scares me more.
Offense, Defense, Players and Keys after the jump...
Definitely not their strength. As opposed to the North Dakota State's outscore you method, the Flyers will try and out-defend you. The score should be much lower, as they only have the 127th best offense in CBB.
eFG% (219th) -- Sheesh. That ain't pretty, folks. What killed West Virginia, and what will need to happen again for them to beat us, is they were feeling it. London Warren, in particular, should be allowed to shoot whenever he wants: his eFG% is 37%. Nobody is a real stud, though, which is a stark differential from NDSU's offensive gameplan of: everyone (pretty much) can shoot from anywhere, now guard us.
Turnover% (177th) -- Another pro-KU difference between NDSU and Dayton: the Flyers can't hold on to the ball. Yet again, London Warren is the guy to go after. He turns the ball over 28% of the time he touches the ball. That isn't good, people. Sure, we aren't Missouri at anything at forcing turnovers, but we should be able to force some against Dayton.
Off. Reb% (28th) -- You knew their offense would have to get good at some point. They make up for their limited possessions and lack of success in converting on those limited possessions with multiple tries-a-possession, using the offensive glass as their primary offensive weapon. I'm cool with this. We are pretty good at limiting second-chance points and things, and if we can do a sufficient job against Dayton we should be great.
FTA/FGA (96th) -- Not incredible, but they'll get to the line some. Just no stupid fouls, no stupid foul trouble and I'm fine. If Markieff wants to come in and use up 4 fouls, then whatever. Just don't let Marcus or Cole get in foul trouble. Please, no. That would kill us to death. I know, redundant, but I'm just trying to make a point here.
- 3-Point FG% (207th) -- Like I said, not a whole helluva lot of three-point shooters on the Flyers. Really, they only have one (Marcus Johnson -- 37%), and he looks like Shaq compared to the ridiculous percentages of NDSU.
- FT% (298th) -- They get to the line at a decent rate, but they don't make a whole lot once they get there. Chris Johnson, a reserve guard who sees about 15 minutes a game, is the only member of the rotation over 70%. Yes, you read that right. Yowza.
Effective Height (40th) -- We are roughly size equals. Like, we're 35th, and they are 40th. Basically the same. There goes the usual size advantage we can lean on. So, and this ties back into rebounding, we are going to have to work extra careful to get those rebounds. The easiest way they can hang with us, besides just having an uncharacteristically good day shooting, is the offenisve glass.
Their defense, however, is Dayton's calling card. As it is for just about any super-duper successful program, this side of North Carolina. 37th in the country, tough, physical and in your face. I'm not looking forward to it, let's just put it this way. The good news, is that if we can (somehow, someway) advance, it should do a brilliant job for preparing us for the winner of USC-Michigan State: quite possibly two of the most physical teams in all of D-1.
eFG% (35th) -- This is their best aspect of D. They don't give you open looks. Like, rarely. So, please please please, when you have one, particularly if it's worth that extra, bonus point, knock it down. Please.
Turnover% (91st) -- This should be interesting. They aren't awesome at turning you over, but good enough to have their fair share against our offense, which quite often giftwraps possessions and hands them to the D. If we can limit our turnovers, that's awesome. If not, that's another way Dayton can make up for the gaps where they fall short.
Off. Reb% (73rd) -- Again, an opportunity for us. And, again, I come back to my favorite player. Marcus Morris, come out and dominate. You can. And you should. Let's see it. If not you, then someone else. It doesn't matter much. Just know that the possibility is there for us to have multiple chances.
FTA/FGA (183rd) -- This doesn't mean a whole lot, because they are deep as hell. Still, if we can get Chris Wright in foul trouble, then I'd jump up-and-down. And if it's Sherron or Cole or, really, for the most part, anyone, getting to the foul line, then awesome. We can hit our free throws. When that's the case, the more you get there the better.
- Tempo (219th) -- Slow. It. Down. Dayton likes the slow game, letting their rough-and-tough defense get to work. So, more than any other game in a long while, we should try and try and try to speed them up. We have the talent to play fast, and I think we almost play better. Particularly when Travis Releford is in there. But, anyways, push Sherron. Yes, this is me giving you permission to have some freedom. That doesn't mean you firing up 18-footers; that's just stupid-as-hell fast breaking. But, if you have a lane, take it. We can outrun them, even if there mascot is the Flyers.
Chris Wright (F) -- It all starts and ends with Mr. Wright for the Flyers. Dude is incredible. He can get aerial, too. Ohmygoodness. Dude can't go beyond 15-feet, but he's deadly when he's heading towards the rim. And the way we match up with them, the only realistic option to guard him is...Marcus Morris, and his subsequent replacements. Yes, I'm petrified. And so should you. McMorris has to step up, man.
Marcus Johnson (G) -- Their primary outside threat. Again, the way we match up, it may be T2 matched up with him. Because, unless you want T2 guarding a 6'6" guy as thick as Levance Fields, Brady is going to have to cover him. And assuming Sherron is matched up with Warren, the point guard we'll get to in a second, that leaves T2 on Johnson. Anyways, Johnson is their lone 3-point shooter, at 37%, and can also put the ball on the floor and take it to the hoop.
London Warren (G) -- As we've noted above, he isn't all that good, statistically. He turns the ball over a bunch, and he can't shoot worth a shit. However, he isn't entirely useless. He's an awesome on-ball defender, one of the best in the country at stealing the ball, and has a very high assist rate.
Charles Little (F) -- Dude isn't that incredible, in general, but he absolutely exploded against West Virginia. Almost certainly who Brady will have to guard, he can't shoot from the perimeter. He's almost exclusively a slasher, but he's damn good at it. Like just about every other Flyer, he's got a mid-range jumper he's pretty good at, too. Keep him away from the rim, though, and you should be all right.
Kurt Huelsman (C) -- White boy. Provides little offensively, and is only a decent rebounder. He'll have to cover Cole, which is just, not likely to end well, if you're a Dayton fan.
Bench -- Dayton is deep as hell, usually playing at least 9 players. They have Chris Johnson, who is an absolutely fabulous rebounder and best free throw shooter on the team and isn't a terrible 3-point shooter....Mickey Perry, who isn't as good of a shooter he thinks he is and provides little else....Devin Searcy is another really solid rebounder with no outside game....and, finally, Paul Williams who provides just about nothing, at least statistically, above average.
1) Marcus Morris (and Company, but primarily him) -- No player, not Cole or Sherron or anybody, will decide the outcome more than Marcus Morris. Now, if Markieff comes in and provides the same thing, then it's all even, but whatever. You get the point. Marcus Morris is critical to offensive success, as we will likely need his second-chance points to score. And on defense, he's even more important, as he has to limit Chris Wright's effectiveness. McMorris, let's have another fantastic game, please.
2) Win the Turnover Battle -- It's all self-explanatory, really. Turnovers will play a big role in this game, and whoever comes out on top should be in good shape.
3) Open Threes: Hit 'Em -- I'll keep on saying this until we can do it consistently. We hit open threes, we can beat just about anyone. We don't hit open threes, and we lose games. Obviously, defense is a lot important, even more important really than offense. But if we're smoking from three, we should be guaranteed to win.
Open Game Thread coming up hour-and-a-half before gametime, like always.
I've actually got a good feeling on this one.