Midway through December, it’s too early to talk much about the NCAA tournament, though it’s a topic of discussion 12 months of the year for college basketball fans, especially fans of the Dayton Flyers, who have not heard their name called on the last two Selection Sundays.
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The bracketologists, of course, never stop examining the potential field. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi predicted this week the No. 14 Flyers would receive a No. 5 seed and play No. 12 seed Liberty in Tampa, Fla. in the first round. Andy Katz, of NCAA.com. also predicted Dayton would receive a No. 5 seed and play Northern Iowa in the first round in the East Region.
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Dayton fans who really want to get excited about March only have to look at the latest NCAA championship odds. According to VegasInsider.com, Dayton has a 20-1 chance to win the national championship. Only eight teams, including the Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1), have better odds.
First Dayton has to reach the tournament, and while victories over Georgia, Virginia Tech and Saint Mary’s have given it a solid resume just over a quarter of the way through the regular season, it still has work to do.
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Dayton coach Anthony Grant talked about what it would mean to coach the Flyers in the NCAA tournament for the first time when he was interviewed Friday on the Jim Rome Show.
“It would mean a lot, obviously,” Grant told Rome. “There’s a great history here at Dayton. I played for Don Donoher, who’s a hall of fame coach. My freshman year, we went to the Elite Eight and lost to the eventual national champion in Georgetown. You look at the coaches who have come after coach Donoher, and there’s been a long legacy of getting to the NCAA tournament and winning. Coach (Archie) Miller before me was able to get them back to that Elite Eight perch. Dayton is a place accustomed to success, accustomed to winning championships, accustomed to getting to the NCAA tournament and advancing in the tournament, so as the steward of the program at this point, it would be an honor to lead them to the tournament and hopefully advance.”
With seven victories in its first eight games, Dayton got off to the best start in Grant’s three seasons and its best start since 2015-16 when it was also 7-1.
“We’ve got some veterans,” Grant told Rome. “We’ve got some guys who have played in our system for a couple years. We’ve got some guys that are familiar with college basketball in the transfers that sat out and learned our system. We’ve got a group that’s really well connected. They know each other. They enjoy being around each other, whether it’s on or off the floor, and they play well together.”
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