Dayton Flyers announce tentative non-conference schedule

Credit: David Jablonski

Dayton Flyers practice at UD Arena (Nov. 5, 2020)

Credit: David Jablonski

The Dayton Flyers will open the 2020-21 season with an exhibition game against Cedarville University at 2 p.m. on Nov. 28. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

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Dayton released a five-game non-conference schedule Friday, but that schedule is subject to change. Additional games could be added.

The planned regular-season opener against Bellarmine University on Dec. 1 at UD Arena won’t take place because Bellarmine went into quarantine Thursday because of a positive COVID-19 test. Dayton will seek to find a replacement for Bellarmine, Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said.

There are four games on the non-conference schedule that will count: home vs. Southern Methodist at 2 p.m. Dec. 5; home vs. Purdue Fort Wayne at a time to be announced on Dec. 8; vs. Mississippi State in Atlanta at noon on Dec. 12; and home vs. Mississippi at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 19. All of those except the Fort Wayne game had been previously announced.

Counting the three games Dayton lost in the Myrtle Beach Invitational, the three it lost in the Crossover Classic and others, Sullivan said 12-15 games he had scheduled have fallen through because of the COVID-19 crisis.

“This the reality of the pandemic,” Sullivan said. “Right now, we’re hopeful but not naive that the focus of our non-conference schedule will remain Southern Methodist, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. We have some windows for flexibility. Those are three high-quality games.”

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The college basketball season begins Nov. 25 for many teams. Dayton decided not to schedule a game that day or one that counts in the opening week because it wants to ease into the season and get prepared for the three marquee games on the schedule.

“We’re looking at it as a ramp up,” Sullivan said. “As we sit here today, things are still getting disrupted.”

As of early Friday afternoon, 230 of the 357 teams in Division had released their non-conference schedules, according to the D1 Docket, a Twitter account that keeps track of schedule releases.

Dayton’s schedule was thrown into flux when it withdrew from the Crossover Classic earlier this month because of the COVID-19 situation in South Dakota. Ohio State withdrew from the same event a day earlier. Sullivan said Dayton and Ohio State talked about playing.

“Everything was on the table,” Sullivan said. “A number of things have to come together. We have a great relationship with Ohio State. Coach (Chris) Holtmann has been great. We all agreed to keep in touch. At some point, we think that will work out — but maybe not this season.”

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