Dayton a popular choice in ‘way-too-early’ top-25 predictions

Numerous predictions came out after NCAA championship game

Five national college basketball writers jumped on the Dayton Flyers hype train Monday night and early Tuesday after Kansas beat North Carolina in the NCAA championship game to conclude the 2021-22 season.

Seth Davis, Jeff Borzello, Kevin Sweeney, Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman all ranked Dayton in their “way-too-early” top-25 predictions for the 2022-23 season. They weren’t the first to do. Eli Boettger, of, ranked Dayton 21st last week, and Tristan Freeman, of, ranked Dayton 19th on Saturday.

Dayton is not a consensus top-25 pick. Mike DeCourcy, of The Sporting News, did not rank Dayton in his early poll. Jon Rothstein, of, ranked Dayton 28th.

Dayton has not been ranked in the Associated Press preseason poll since it was No. 21 in the 2009-10 season, and that was the first time it ranked in the preseason poll since the 1967-68 season when it started the season at No. 6 after reaching the NCAA championship game the previous season.

Dayton was last ranked in the 2019-20 season when it climbed to No. 3 with 20 straight victories to end the regular season. It received one vote in the preseason poll that season.

Dayton finished 24-11 this season and expects to return its entire starting lineup and seven of its top eight scorers. Here’s a glance at what the national writers are saying about the Flyers seven months before the start of the season.

Seth Davis, The Athletic: No. 17 Dayton

“The Flyers were the youngest team in the country last season, and they now return all five starters from a squad that won 24 games, including over Kansas and Miami, and was the first team out of the NCAA at-large field. Holmes was the Atlantic 10 rookie of the year and could enter his sophomore year as the league’s preseason player of the year.”

Kevin Sweeney, No. 18 Dayton

“Dayton lost to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay in the first two weeks of the 2021–22 season. After that, it was one of the best teams in the country. In fact, per T-Rank, from Nov. 22 on, the Flyers were the No. 20 team in the sport. Now, its entire nucleus returns. Young big man DaRon Holmes II has limitless upside down low, and point guard Malachi Smith looked the part of a future all-time great for the Flyers in an impressive freshman campaign. This Dayton team won’t be as good as the one Obi Toppin had trending toward a potential No. 1 seed in ‘20, but it has the potential for an incredibly special season.”

Gary Parrish, No. 23 Dayton

“The Flyers’ ranking is based on Dayton returning the top eight scorers from a team that just missed the NCAA Tournament — among them double-digit scorers Daron Holmes and Toumani Camara. If Anthony Grant can keep his talented freshmen out of the transfer portal, the Flyers’ future is bright in the Atlantic 10.”

Jeff Borzello, ESPN: No. 18 Dayton

“After falling just short of the NCAA tournament, Anthony Grant and the Flyers shouldn’t have to sweat out Selection Sunday in 2023. Dayton returns all five starters from a team that beat Kansas, Miami, Virginia Tech and Davidson — and with six of its top seven players last season only freshmen, it could be the start of a very successful run for Grant. Malachi Smith was one of the best freshman point guards in the country this past season, while 6-foot-10 big man DaRon Holmes II is a future NBA player. Dayton was elite shooting the ball last season and also had a top-40 defense for most of the season. If the young core takes the expected step forward, the Flyers could be very, very good.”

Jeff Goodman, No. 24 Dayton

“The Flyers return just about everyone from a team that went 24-11 and finished a game back from the A-10 regular-season title. Now, it’ll be a sophomore-laden group, and that should make a huge difference.:

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