Published: Thursday, February 23, 2017 @ 7:50 PM
By: David Jablonski
DAYTON — Believe it or not, the national college basketball holiday known as Selection Sunday is only 17 days away. On March 12, the Dayton Flyers will learn their fate. They can calm their nerves and the nerves of their entire fan base with a strong finish in the last three regular-season games and the Atlantic 10 tournament, moving away from bubble talk to lock status.
EARLIER COVERAGE: March Forecast V
Here’s a summary of where Dayton stands in the NCAA tournament picture:
Dayton (22-5, 13-2) takes a seven-game winning streak into a 9 p.m. Friday game at Davidson. The Flyers rank 24th (up five spots from last week) in the RPI, 34th (down one spot) in the Pomeroy ratings, 34th (up one spot) in the Sagarin ratings, 28th (up three spots) in the KPI Sports ratings and 35th (down two spots) in ESPN’s Basketball Power Index.
Dayton has three more top-50 RPI wins than last week because No. 47 Vanderbilt and No. 49 Rhode Island, who the Flyers beat twice, climbed back into the top 50, thought obviously they could go the other way just as fast.
While Dayton lacks marquee victories, it makes up for it in a number of quality victories against top-100 teams. It has wins over No. 70 East Tennessee State, No. 73 Alabama, No. 74 Winthrop, No. 85 New Mexico, No. 89 St. Bonaventure (two wins) and No. 96 Richmond. The Flyers also get a second chance to record their biggest victory yet when they host VCU on Wednesday. The Rams, who beat the Flyers in Richmond, rank 26th.
Here’s what the experts say about Dayton in their latest predictions:
Joe Lunardi, ESPN: No. 8 Dayton vs. No. 9 Michigan in Salt Lake City.
Jerry Palm, CBS: No. 9 Dayton vs. No. 8 South Carolina in Tulsa.
Michael Beller, Sports Illustrated: No. 8 Dayton vs. No. 9 Virginia Tech.
In his bubble watch, Beller writes: “Dayton (21–5, 12–2) and VCU (22–5, 12–2) continued their twin paths to the Big Dance, both getting a pair of wins last week. The Flyers knocked off Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure, while the Rams took care of Saint Joseph’s and Richmond. Neither team has the profile to earn better than a No. 6 or No. 7 seed, but both should be safe come Selection Sunday. Like the American, the A-10 has the look of a two-bid league, unless a team that isn’t Dayton or VCU can make a run to the conference tournament title.”
Stewart Mandel, Fox Sports: No. 8 Dayton vs. No. 9 Michigan in Greenville, S.C.
131Sports: No. 7 Dayton vs. No. 10 Wichita State in Sacramento, Calif.
Bracketologist: No. 9 Dayton vs. No. 8 South Carolina in Greenville.
USA Today: No. 8 Dayton vs. No. 9 Southern California in Salt Lake City.
Bracket Matrix: Dayton’s average seed is 8.09. The Flyers are listed on 114 of 115 brackets and range as high as a No. 6 seed and as low as a No. 11. TheSportsDaily.com bracket is the only one to not include UD.
North Florida Dance Card: Dayton ranks 30th with a 100 percent chance of making the field.
In his third Bubble Watch of the season, ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan writes, “Dayton trailed by as many as 15 in the first half against St. Bonaventure on Saturday; they eventually rallied, took the lead, and held on for a 76-72 win. As unhelpful as it would have been, the Flyers' position remains strong enough to sustain a loss to a decent team like the Bonnies. But they can't afford more than one or two of those types of losses in the final four outings -- George Mason, at Davidson, VCU, at George Washington — if they want to feel snug in the bracket by the time the A-10 tourney tips off.”