With apologies to Anthony Grant, who wants all focus to be on the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, it's time to take a look at where the Dayton Flyers stand in their pursuit of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
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The good news for Grant and his team is it needs an A-10 championship to improve its seeding in the big dance, so there is no reason for the coaches and players to look ahead to next week. Everyone else can keep one eye on the tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn this week and another eye on Selection Sunday and the big dance starting next week at arenas across the nation.
The Flyers aren’t fighting for their life — like bubble teams Xavier, Cincinnati and Indiana, to name a few — so a loss this weekend at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., wouldn’t hurt them too much. At this point, it’s hard to imagine them dropping below a No. 2 seed even if they lost Friday to No. 8 seed Massachusetts or No. 9 seed Virginia Commonwealth in the quarterfinals.
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However, Dayton has a real chance to make history and become the first A-10 team to earn a top seed since Saint Joseph's in 2004. Dayton's 20th consecutive victory, 76-51 against George Washington on Saturday, and San Diego State's 59-56 last-second loss Saturday in the Mountain West Conference tournament opens the door for debate.
As of Sunday evening, 89 of the 99 predictions on BracketMatrix.com listed Dayton as a No. 1 seed.
Jerry Palm, of CBS Sports, moved Dayton to a No. 1 seed in his latest bracket prediction Sunday.
“The Flyers have dominated the Atlantic 10 and have a better overall schedule and better losses,” Palm wrote. “Dayton lost to Kansas and Colorado, each on a neutral floor and each in overtime. The Aztecs have better wins with victories over Big East regular-season champion Creighton, BYU and Iowa. It's not an easy call for the committee, and Dayton has to win out in the Atlantic 10 Tournament to stay there.”
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San Diego State (30-2) has the same number of losses as Dayton (29-2). San Diego State has two victories (BYU, No. 9 in the NCAA Evaluation Tool, and No. 11 Creighton) better than Dayton’s best victory (No. 31 Saint Mary’s). However, San Diego State’s two losses (No. 39 Utah State and No. 109 UNLV) are worse than Dayton’s (No. 1 Kansas and No. 23 Colorado).
Dayton ranks 27th in strength of schedule. San Diego State ranks 97th.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi also moved Dayton up in his ranking of the top 16 seeds. On Saturday night, he ranked Dayton as the fourth No. 1 seed, with a first-round game in Cleveland, and put the Flyers in the East Region, which plays its Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
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Even before the Saturday games, USA Today replaced San Diego with Dayton in the group of No. 1 seeds.
“Skeptics will say criticize the strength of the Atlantic 10,” wrote Shelby Mast and Scott Gleeson. “It ranks as the eighth-best conference in the NET score and is only projected to send one team to the NCAAs (Rhode Island and Richmond are on the bubble). But a blind résumé test will reveal Dayton's profile is more than worthy of a No. 1 seed with five Quadrant 1 victories, a top-25 strength of schedule and no bad losses.”
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