Even as the Dayton Flyers play five teams from the top six conferences in a six-game stretch, they compete every week against their fellow Atlantic 10 Conference teams in the quest to build momentum for league play in January, February and March.
No matter what Dayton does in November and December, it will have to play well in 18 A-10 games to have a chance to earn a NCAA tournament bid. While Dayton was picked in the preseason poll to finish sixth, the state of the conference three weeks into the season shows the Flyers can be a legitimate contender. The A-10 ranked eighth out of 32 Division I conferences four years ago and has fallen to 12th this season.
Here’s how the Flyers compare to the other 13 teams in the conference in the form of an early-season power ranking:
1. Davidson (6-1, No. 78 Ken Pomeroy ranking, No. 96 NCAA Evaluation tool ranking): The Wildcats, one of three A-10 teams to play in the NCAA tournament last season, have the league’s best Pomeroy ranking. They have three victories against teams ranked in the top 100, but two of them are against the same team: No. 81 Northeastern. They also beat No. 86 Wichita State.
2. Saint Louis (5-1, No. 80/75): The Billikens, the preseason favorite, have the best road victory in the conference. They won 66-64 Seton Hall, ranked 54th by Pomeroy.
3. Dayton (4-2, N0. 93/45): The Flyers’ 69-64 victory over Butler in the Battle 4 Atlantis is the A-10’s only victory against a team ranked in the top 30 of the Pomeroy rankings. Butler is No. 27. Dayton is the top-ranked A-10 team in the NET.
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4. Virginia Commonwealth (5-2, No. 119/117): The Rams have lost two of their last three games, 87-86 to No. 46 St. John’s and 62-52 to No. 106 Old Dominion (62-52). They do have the league’s third-best victory: 57-51 over Temple, ranked 82nd by Pomeroy. The Rams lead the A-10 in scoring defense (63.1 points per game).
5. St. Joseph’s (4-3, No. 99/108): The Hawks got off to a strong start with victories against Old Dominion, Monmouth and Wake Forest but then suffered three straight losses to Central Florida, West Virginia and William & Mary. Charlie Brown leads the A-10 with 24.1 points per game.
6. Duquesne (4-1, No. 153/52): The Dukes ranked as high as No. 35 in the NET but fell to No. 52 Thursday. They have a 69-64 victory over Radford, which ranks 26th in the NET and 133rd in the Pomeroy ratings. Radford upset Notre Dame 63-60 on Nov. 14.
7. Massachusetts (5-3, No. 136/180): The Minutemen have one of the worst losses in the conference: 68-63 to Howard, ranked 301st in the Pomeroy rating. They lead the A-10 in scoring (81.6 points per game).
8. Rhode Island (3-2, No. 125/144): The defending A-10 regular-season champions have alternated wins and losses in the first season for coach David Cox. They have a 76-74 victory over Harvard, ranked 83rd by Pomeroy, but also lost to No. 177 Stony Brook.
9. George Mason (3-5, No. 167/200): The most disappointing team in the conference so far, the Patriots were picked to finish fourth but stumbled out of the gate with losses to Penn, American and Georgia Southern. They have yet to beat anyone ranked in Pomeroy’s top 300.
10. St. Bonaventure (2-5, No. 163/308): Like Rhode Island, which lost four senior starters, the Bonnies were hit hard by graduation, losing two of the top players in the conference in Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. Their best victory is against Canisius, which Pomeroy ranks 222nd.
11. Fordham (5-1, No. 229/159): The most surprising team in the conference, Fordham needs only four more victories to match last season’s total.
12. Richmond (2-5, No. 179/230): The Spiders opened the season with a loss to Longwood, which Pomeroy ranks 315th.
13. George Washington (1-5, No. 237/303): The Colonials have played a tough schedule with losses to two top-10 opponents, Virginia and Michigan.
14. La Salle (0-7, No. 226/331): New coach Ashley Howard is still searching for his first victory, and it won’t come this weekend. The Explorers play Villanova on Saturday. They have played four top-100 teams but also lost 77-76 to Lafayette, ranked 306th by Pomeroy.
COVERAGE NOTES: Watch Mike Hartsock’s weekly series “Flyer Nation” for a special look behind the court. It’s available on our WHIO app for your TV streaming player: whio.com/watch.
• Hear coverage of Friday’s game starting at 6 pm on AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO. You can listen online here: whio.com/WHIORadio.
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