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NCAA tournament selection committee high on Dayton Flyers

Published: Saturday, February 08, 2020 @ 5:59 PM

Anthony Grant: Postgame press conference after beating Saint Louis

The fourth-annual NCAA tournament bracket preview gave Dayton Flyers fans something to be excited about five weeks before the real bracket is revealed.

» PHOTOS: Flyers vs. Billikens

Anthony Grant? Not so much.

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“We appreciate the recognition, but you’ve got to roll out on Tuesday and we’ve got a lot of ball left to be played here” the coach of the Flyers said looking ahead to a showdown with Rhode Island. “So we gotta worry about controlling the things we can control and you know that stuff down the road, with our performance we’ve got to take care of ourselves and everything else will work itself out.”

That was his reaction after Dayton beat Saint Louis 71-65 on Saturday at UD Arena.

» GAME STORY: Crutcher says Flyers ‘just getting started’

Grant’s team was going through pregame warmups when Dayton was revealed among four No. 2 seeds, joining West Virginia, Louisville and Duke.

The top seeds were Kansas, Baylor, Gonzaga and San Diego State.

Maryland, Florida State, Seton Hall and Villanova showed up on the No. 3 seed line with Auburn, Oregon, Butler and Michigan State rounding out the field as No. 4 seeds.

The Flyers were the No. 6 overall seed (behind Duke among the 2s) and placed in the Midwest region along with Kansas, Florida State and Michigan State. Those third- and fourth-round games will be played in Indianapolis this year.

On a conference call after the seedings were revealed, Kentucky Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart told reporters Dayton’s overall performance overcame a lack of a signature wins compared to some of the other teams in the top 16.

» MARCH FORECAST: Where Dayton stands in NCAA tournament picture

“They’re 5-0 on the road and their only two losses are neutral losses in overtime,” said Barhart, who took questions in place of committee chair Kevin White because White was attending a funeral. “Incredible player in Obi Toppin, and just a remarkably efficient basketball team. They have performed at a high level, and obviously doing a remarkable job in the A-10.

“I think all of those pieces just give us great confidence to put them on the 2 line, and they’ve got plenty of opportunities ahead of them to make a great run in the tournament if they continue to play the way they are.”

Dayton wins 71-65 on Feb. 8, 2020, at UD Arena.

The Flyers’ two losses are to Kansas and Colorado on neutral floors in overtime. While the Jayhawks are a No. 1 seed, Barnhart said the Buffaloes were among the teams that just missed the top 16.

» MARCH FORECAST: Where Dayton stands in NCAA tournament picture

“Eventually we had to pick 16 teams, and so the top four seed lines, if we started the tournament today, that’s where we would sort of land, and then there were some other teams that they mentioned on the bracket reveal show of Iowa and Kentucky and LSU that were in the conversations probably more closely to that 4 line, but the conversation was deep,” Barnhart said.

“The balance in the field is remarkable, so people are saying that it’s one of the more balanced, competitive brackets in history, and I would tend to agree with that. With 1,500 games to go, it’s an exciting way to look ahead to Selection Sunday.”

Dayton has made the NCAA Tournament 18 times but never received a seed higher than fourth.

» ARCHDEACON: Tshimanga making impact for Flyers

The Flyers have played one NCAA Tournament game in Indianapolis, and it was their last appearance in the Big Dance. That was a 64-58 loss to Wichita State in the first round in 2017.

If they end up in the Midwest region this year, they would have to win a pair of games to make it to Indy.

The first round sites are Cleveland, Albany, N.Y., Spokane, Wash., St. Louis, Mo., Tampa, Fla., Greensboro, N.C., Omaha, Neb. and Sacramento, Calif.