Dayton gets good news in release of A-10 schedule pairings

Flyers will play Saint Louis, Davidson, VCU and Loyola twice in 2022-23 season

The annual release of the Atlantic 10 Conference schedule pairings draws as much attention from fans of the Dayton Flyers as every block-charge call during the season.

Who is Dayton playing twice? Are they the best possible matchups to help Dayton’s strength of schedule?

These are among the most important questions every summer, and the Flyers and their fans got their answers Monday when the pairings for the 2022-23 season were released. The news is good for Dayton.

Here are 10 things to know about the pairings:

1. Repeat opponents: Dayton will play Saint Louis, defending A-10 regular-season champion Davidson, Virginia Commonwealth and A-10 newcomer Loyola at home and on the road in the 2022-23 season.

Dayton likely will be the preseason favorite because it returns all five starters and seven of its top eight scorers from a team that finished 24-11 last season and finished second in the A-10 with a 14-4 mark.

Saint Louis (23-12, 12-6) might join Dayton in the preseason top-25 polls. It returns its top four scorers, including all-conference first-team selection Yuri Collins, and Javonte Perkins, who led the team in scoring in the 2020-21 season and missed last season with a torn ACL.

Davidson (27-7, 15-3) lost three of its top four scorers, including A-10 first-team selections Luka Brajkovic and Hyunjung Lee, but is one of the most consistent programs in the conference. It has won 20 or more games five times in eight A-10 seasons and has finished above .500 in conference play seven times. The Wildcats have a new coach, Matt McKillop, the son of Bob McKillop, who retired earlier this month after 33 seasons.

VCU (22-10, 14-4), like Davidson, is almost always a contender no matter who it lost from the previous season. This year, it lost three starers (Vince Williams, KeShawn Curry and Hason Ward) but returns point guard Ace Baldwin, who will be a third-year starter, and one other starter, Jayden Nunn.

Loyola (25-8, 13-5) becomes the A-10′s 15th program after nine seasons in the Missouri Valley Conference. It lost five of its top seven scorers. It has averaged 24.8 victories in the last five seasons.

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2. Windy City return: With Dayton playing at Loyola, it will make two trips to Chicago. It has a non-conference game against Wyoming at the United Center on Dec. 17.

3. Schedule change: With the A-10 expanding to 15 schools, each team will play four teams twice and the other 10 teams once in the 18-game schedule. In previous years, each team played five teams twice.

4. Familiar foes: This will be the ninth straight season Dayton has played two games in the regular season against Saint Louis and the seventh straight season it has played two games against VCU.

5. One and done: Dayton will play home games against Duquesne, George Mason, La Salle, Richmond and Saint Joseph’s. Dayton will travel to play Fordham, George Washington, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure.

The game in Kingston, R.I., will match the Flyers against Rhode Island’s new coach, Archie Miller, who left Dayton after six seasons in 2017 and then spent four seasons at Indiana before being fired following the 2020-21 season. At Rhode Island, Miller replaced David Cox, who was fired on March 11 after posting a record of 64-55 in four seasons.

Miller’s return was one big storyline in the A-10 this offseason. Another was the UMass hiring of Frank Martin, a close friend of Dayton coach Anthony Grant who replaced another friend of Grant’s, Matt McCall. Martin and Grant will coach against each other for the first time since they were both in the Southeastern Conference: Martin at South Carolina and Grant at Alabama. They split four games from 2013-2015.

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6. End of a streak: Dayton and Duquesne, the closest school in the conference to UD geographically, will play once after playing twice the last seven seasons. This will be the first time Dayton hasn’t played in Pittsburgh since the 2012-13 season.

7. No homecoming: Dayton had played Rhode Island home and away the last six seasons. The end of that streak means Miller will not coach at UD Arena until the 2023-24 season.

8. Postseason plans: The A-10 tournament will return to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., from March 8-12. This will be the seventh A-10 tournament held in Brooklyn and the first since 2020 when only the first two games were played before the event was cancelled because of the pandemic. The tournament will also take place at the Barclays Center in 2024.

9. NCAA hopes: The A-10 was a two-bid league in March for the second straight season with Davidson and A-10 tournament champion Richmond earning berths. Loyola also made it for the second straight season in the MVC. Dayton was the first team left out of the field.

In his latest bracket prediction for 2023, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi predicts Dayton will make the field as a No. 5 seed and Saint Louis as a No. 7 seed. He lists Loyola among the first four teams left out of the tournament.

10. Looking ahead: The exact dates of the A-10 games will be announced at a later date. They are typically announced in early September. It was Sept. 9 last year.

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