Six weeks before Selection Sunday, the No. 7 Dayton Flyers (19-2, 8-0) move closer and closer with every victory to becoming a lock for the NCAA tournament. They just completed their first perfect January since 2003, surviving a challenging five-game stretch that included three road games.
» PHOTOS: Flyers vs. Dukes
The reward is three straight games at UD Arena: first on Saturday against Fordham, a team Dayton has beaten 15 times in a row; and then the following Saturday against Saint Louis, which Dayton beat 78-76 on the road Jan. 17; and then against Rhode Island on Feb. 11.
Ten games remain in the regular season, and then there’s the A-10 tournament. That doesn’t mean it’s too early to talk about the NCAA tournament.
As of Thursday, all 98 bracket predictions listed on BracketMatrix.com included the Flyers, whose average seed was 2.69, a slight improvement from last week when it was 2.86. Dayton has never received higher than a No. 4 seed (2003) in the tournament, but it is gaining buzz as a potential No. 1 seed this season.
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"Just so we're all perfectly clear on this: The Dayton Flyers can win the 2020 national title," wrote Matt Norlander, of CBSSports.com this week. "UD boasts the goods, so much so that a No. 1 seed isn't out of the equation.
Dayton ranks fifth in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (same as last week), fifth in the Ken Pomeroy ratings (one spot worse than last week), eighth in the Haslametrics ratings (two spots lower), sixth in ESPN's Basketball Power Index (one spot better) and 12th in the Sagarin ratings (one spot better).
Here’s a glance at where Dayton stands in the minds of the experts evaluating the NCAA field on a daily or weekly basis.
Mike DeCourcy, Fox Sports/The Sporting News: For the second straight week, he has No. 2 seed Dayton playing No. 15 seed Murray State in the first round.
» EARLIER COVERAGE: March Forecast I | March Forecast II | March Forecast III
Joe Lunardi, ESPN: He has moved Dayton back and forth from the No. 3 seed to No. 2 seed to No. 3 seed in recent weeks. In his latest bracket prediction, he has the Flyers playing No. 14 seed Wright State in the first round. Dayton and Wright State haven't played since 1997, and they have never made the NCAA tournament in the same season.
Eamonn Brennan, The Athletic : In his weekly Bubble Watch story, continues to list Dayton among teams "should be in" the NCAA field but has not moved them to "lock" status. This week, he wrote, "The Atlantic 10 is undeniably improved over last season, in ways that go beyond Dayton's remarkable campaign, and you wondered whether that improvement would give the Flyers a more sustained challenge in the league. Not so far. Obi Toppin and crew are coming off an impressive 87-79 win at Richmond now 7-0 in the league, with a win at Saint Louis and a home win over VCU already under their belts.
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Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com: He had No. 2 seed Dayton playing No. 15 seed Wright State last week. This week, he has No. 2 Dayton playing Colorado State in Cleveland with Wright State moved up to a No. 14 seed and playing No. 3 seed Duke.
Chris Dobbertean, SBNation.com: He has No. 2 seed Dayton playing No. 15 Wright State in Cleveland.
Jonathon Warriner, MakingTheMadness.com: He has No. 3 seed Dayton playing No. 14 Vermont in Albany, N.Y.
Kerry Miller, BleacherReport.com: He gives No. 3 seed Dayton a game against No. 14 seed Georgia State in Greensboro, N.C.
DelphiBracketology.com: Another No. 3 seed Dayton vs. No. 14 Wright State matchup.
Patrick Stevens, Washington Post: His prediction: No. 3 seed Dayton vs. No. 14 New Mexico State in Cleveland.
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