Dayton Flyers: History of exempt tournaments
Photo: David Jablonski - Staff Writer
Photo: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Dayton Flyers: Ranking quality of non-conference opponents

North Texas, Drake among best teams coming to UD Arena

» RELATED: Scheduling more difficult than ever for Dayton

• There are no true road games. That’s a first for the program, which. Dayton plays five games away from UD Arena. Each of those games is on a neutral court. Unless Dayton plays Chaminade in its final game in the Maui Invitational, the five games on a neutral court will be the five best games on the non-conference schedule.

• For the first time since 2012-13, Dayton won’t play a team from the power conferences at home. The Flyers played Southeastern Conference teams at UD Arena the last five seasons and hosted Southern California in the 2013-14 season.

Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said in June this is the “most difficult scheduling environment” he has seen since he arrived at Dayton in 2006 and talked about being “soundly rejected” by dozens of teams. The result is this 13-game non-conference schedule. Here’s a projection of how the 11 known opponents will rank:

Dayton’s Trey Landers drives to the basket against Saint Mary's on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, Calif.
Photo: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

1. Saint Mary’s (Dec. 8): The Gaels were 22-12 last season and rank in the top 25 in many preseason polls. They return four starters, including leading scorer Jordan Ford (21.1 points per game). This game will be played at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. Last season’s NCAA Evaluation Tool ranking: 35.

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2. Colorado (Dec. 21): The Flyers lost 78-73 at Colorado in the first round of the NIT in March. The Buffaloes (23-13 last season) return all five starters and their top six leading scorers, including former Dayton recruit McKinley Wright, who’s entering his junior season. This game will be played at the United Center in Chicago. NET ranking: 65.

3. Georgia (Nov. 25): Georgia finished 11-21 last season, the first for coach Tom Crean. His second team features the nation’s ninth-ranked recruiting class, according to 247Sports.com. The top recruit is 6-foot-5 guard Anthony Edwards, who ranks second in the class of 2019. The Flyers play Georgia in the first round of the Maui Invitational and will play Michigan State or Virginia Tech a day later and Kansas, BYU, UCLA or Chaminade in the final game. NET ranking: 115.

» RELATED: Maui field one of the best Dayton has seen

4. North Texas (Dec. 17): After a 16-1 start, the Mean Green finished 21-12 overall and 8-10 in Conference USA last season. Six players averaged between 10 and 13 points per game. Three of them return. NET ranking: 147.

5. Drake (Dec. 14): The Bulldogs finished 24-10 overall last season and shared the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title with Loyola with a 12-6 mark. They return two double-digit scorers. The website, BustingBrackets.com, placed them fifth out of 10 teams in a MVC preseason ranking. NET ranking: 132.

6. Indiana State (Nov. 9): The Flyers will open the season with the Sycamores on Nov. 9. Indiana State, another team from the MVC, the nation’s 15th-ranked conference, finished 15-16 last season. Its four leading scorers return. NET ranking: 204.

» RELATED: 10 things to know about Maui Invitational

7. Omaha (Nov. 19): The Mavericks, who compete in the Summit League, moved to Division I in the 2012-13 season. They had their best season last season, finishing 21-11 and 13-3 in the conference. They lost their two top scorers. NET ranking: 178.

HIghlights of Dayton's 78-70 win over the Ospreys.

8. North Florida (Dec. 30): Dayton beat the Ospreys 78-70 in the season opener last year and will play them in the final non-conference game this season. North Florida finished 16-17. It was their third losing season in a row. The team’s top player, Noah Horchler, transferred to Providence. NET ranking: 181.

9. Charleston Southern (Nov. 16): The Buccaneers ended a three-year streak of losing seasons by finishing 18-16 last season. Their top player, Christian Keeling, left for North Carolina as a grad transfer. NET ranking: 189.

» ALUMNI NEWS: Former Flyer heading to Germany

10. Grambling State (Dec. 23): Six years after finishing 0-28, the Tigers finished 17-17 last season. They ranked fourth in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (40.2). Donte Jackson, a 2003 Central State graduate who was the Marauders head coach from 2010-14, enters his second season at Grambling. NET ranking: 291.

11. Houston Baptist (Dec. 3): The Huskies finished 12-18 last season, doubling their win total from the previous season. They are one of four teams on the schedule Dayton has never played. Indiana State, Omaha and Charleston Southern are the others. NET ranking: 292.

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