Dayton ranked in AP preseason poll for first time in 13 years

Flyers will open season Nov. 7 at No. 24 in poll

The Associated Press started a poll for men’s college basketball in January 1949. The first No. 1 team was Saint Louis. Hamline University, which is considered the birthplace of college basketball because it hosted the first game in 1895, made the top 10.

The Dayton Flyers appeared in the poll for the first time a year later and regularly showed up among the top 20 teams in the 1950s. It didn’t become a top-25 poll until the 1989-90 season.

For the most part, Dayton has had to play its way into the rankings. This year is an exception.

On Monday, the AP released its preseason poll for the 2022-23 season, and Dayton ranked 24th. North Carolina is the preseason No. 1. Gonzaga, Houston, Kentucky and Kansas round out the top five and are followed by Baylor, Duke, UCLA, Creighton and Arkansas.

Tennessee, Texas, Indiana, TCU, Auburn, Villanova, Arizona, Virginia, San Diego State and Alabama complete the top 20. Just ahead of Dayton are Oregon, Michigan and Illinois. Texas Tech is No. 25.

Dayton, Virginia and Oregon are the only teams in the preseason top 25 who didn’t play in the NCAA tournament last season.

Dayton is the highest-ranked Ohio team and the only Atlantic 10 Conference team in the top 25. Saint Louis received votes, as did Ohio State and Xavier. Toledo received one vote.

This is the third time since the AP started a preseason poll in the 1961-62 season, Dayton has been ranked in it. 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.

Asked Saturday after the Red & Blue Game about the possibility of Dayton being ranked in the preseason poll, guard R.J. Blakney said, “That’s very exciting, especially with all the work we’ve been doing all year. That’s a testament to us.”

This is the first time Dayton has been ranked since it climbed to No. 3 in the final weeks of the 2019-20 season. That team received one vote in the preseason poll. Cecil Hurt, of the Tuscaloosa News (Ala.), ranked Dayton 25th in his poll.

There was little doubt Dayton, which returns all five starters and seven of its top eight scorers, would rank in the top 25 in the preseason poll this year. A day after the national championship game in April, a number of national writers put Dayton in their “way-too-early” top-25 predictions. Seth Davis, of The Athletic, ranked the Flyers as high as No. 17.

Dayton received 22 of 29 first-place votes in the Atlantic 10 Conference preseason poll last week, topping that prediction for the fourth time. Most national publications predicting the top 25 this fall also ranked Dayton. Dayton also ranked 24th in the Ken Pomeroy ratings, which were released Sunday.

Dayton will face a challenge staying in the poll in the first weeks of the season. After playing Lindenwood in the season opener Nov. 7, Dayton stays at home for its second game against Southern Methodist, which has beaten Dayton the last two seasons, on Nov. 11.

The Flyers then play a road game at UNLV on Nov. 15. That game in Las Vegas, Nev., starts at 8 p.m. or 11 p.m. Ohio time.

Dayton stayed in the poll all season in 2019-20 after breaking in the rankings in December. That was its longest stay in the poll since the 1950s.

Dayton coach Anthony Grant always downplays polls and predictions, something former Flyer Brooks Hall, now an analyst on the WHIO Radio broadcasts, reminded everyone of on Monday.

“As cool as it is for us fans seeing Dayton ranked No. 24 24 in the preseason poll, believe me when I tell you ... THEY DON’T CARE!” Hall wrote on Twitter. “They aren’t interested in being ‘paper champs.’ These coaches and players are really locked in.”

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