Dayton fans cheer during a game against Oklahoma in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, on Paradise Island, Bahamas. David Jablonski/Staff

Maui Invitational: 10 things Dayton fans need to know

Flyers are 7-2 in Maui in three appearances

The Flyers have a hard time getting schools from the power conferences to come to UD Arena these days, though the Southeastern Conference has sent a steady parade of schools to Dayton in recent years. However, to play Georgia again — 46 years after a 63-55 victory — the Flyers will have to travel all the way to Hawaii.

Dayton and Georgia will meet in the first round of the Maui Invitational on Nov. 25. The full bracket was revealed Thursday. Here are 10 things to know about the tournament.

1. Tournament opener: The Flyers and Bulldogs will play the first game of the tournament. It will start at 2:30 p.m. in Dayton (9:30 a.m. Maui time). ESPN2 will televise it.

2. Big opportunity: Winning the first game is always the key for Dayton in these tournaments. A victory increases its chances of playing the best possible opponents. Last year, it beat Butler in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis and played eventual national champion Virginia in the second round and Oklahoma in the final game.

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This time, Dayton will play Michigan State, which ranks first in a CBSSports.com preseason poll, or Virginia Tech, a Sweet 16 team last season, in the semifinals or the consolation bracket at 9:30 a.m. or 3 p.m. Nov. 26. The Spartans and Hokies play in the second first-round game at noon Nov. 25.

3. Looking back: If Dayton plays Michigan State, it will be the third meeting between the schools. The Spartans beat the Flyers 83-74 on Dec. 7, 1991, at UD Arena and 65-60 on Dec. 19, 1992.

If Dayton plays Virginia Tech, it will be the 14th meeting. The Hokies lead the series 8-5 and won the last meeting 64-52 in Blacksburg, Va., on March 4, 2000.

4. Other matchups: On the other side of the bracket, Kansas, the No. 7 team in that preseason poll, will play Chaminade, a Division II program, at 4 p.m. in the first round. BYU will play UCLA, led by former Cincinnati Bearcats coach Mick Cronin, in the final first-round game at 6:30 p.m.

Dayton will play one of those four teams on the final day of the tournament Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving.

5. Tough field: Dayton finished 21-12 last season. Four other teams in the field won at least 20 games: Michigan State (32-7); Virginia Tech (26-9); Kansas (26-10); and Chaminade (23-8).

6. History lesson: Dayton also played in Maui in 2000 and 2003. Dayton is 7-2 in the tournament. It finished third in 2000, won the tournament in 2003 and placed third in 2013.

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Victories over Gonzaga and California in Maui in 2013 helped the Flyers earn an at-large berth in the 2014 NCAA tournament, and it reached the Elite Eight.

7. Other champions: Kansas won the Maui Invitational in 2015 and 1996. UCLA won in 2006. Michigan State won in 1991.

8. Familiar name: Former Indiana coach Tom Crean enters his second season with the Bulldogs. They finished 11-21 last season and 2-16 in the SEC. It was their worst season since 2004-05 when they finished 8-20.

Crean’s second team features the nation’s ninth-ranked recruiting class, according to 247Sports.com. The six-man group includes Anthony Edwards, a 6-foot-5 guard who ranked second in the nation in the 2019 class. The Bulldogs return one double-digit scorer: 6-9 junior forward Rayshaun Hammonds (12.1 points per game).

9. Recent performances: Dayton has finished 1-2 in exempt tournaments, the Charleston Classic in 2017 and the Battle 4 Atlantis last season, in each of Anthony Grant’s first two seasons.

10. Big name: Among the top players in the tournament is Michigan State senior point guard Cassius Winston, a second-team All-American as a junior. One website, MakingtheMadness.com, ranked him as the best player in college basketball entering the 2019-20 season.

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