The Dayton Flyers will play three games this week a short walk away from miles of pristine beach, aquariums full of turtles, sharks and other marine life and a large casino that kept many of their fans up late after a 69-64 victory over Butler on Wednesday in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Dayton always lives well on these trips, but the Atlantis resort goes above and beyond what they’ve come to expect.
“It’s beautiful,” point guard Jalen Crutcher said.
“It’s crazy,” junior guard Trey Landers said. “They’ve got a casino, all the pools and stuff. It’s a great experience for us.”
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Redshirt freshman forward Obi Toppin held a GoPro as he went down the Leap of Faith, the biggest waterslide at the resort’s waterpark. Landers said, “I don’t do slides,” but he enjoyed walking around the resort with his teammates.
All the players got a unique experience Tuesday when they met NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal. He didn’t know much about Dayton basketball, Landers said, but talked to the players.
“He said he was going to come watch the game,” Landers said. “I don’t know if he was here or not. Pretty cool person.”
Tough stretch: Dayton’s first-round game guarantees it will play two more teams ranked high in the Ken Pomeroy rankings in this tournament, and that means it’s in the middle of one of the most difficult six-game stretches in recent years.
Dayton climbed from No. 103 to No. 91 in the rankings. Butler ranks 35th. Dayton’s semifinal opponent, Virginia, ranks fourth. Dayton’s opponent on Friday will be No. 14 Wisconsin or No. 38 Oklahoma.
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Then Dayton comes home to play No. 26 Mississippi State on Nov. 30. A home game Dec. 4 against No. 285 Detroit breaks the streak of top-50 opponents, but another top-10 opponent awaits in the next game. Dayton plays at No. 8 Auburn on Dec. 8.
Other games: Oklahoma and Florida, the two teams to knock Dayton out of the NCAA tournament in 2014 and 2015, met in the first game at noon Thursday. The Sooners (4-0) won 65-60.
• No. 25 Wisconsin beat Stanford 62-46 in the second game. The teams combined to make 3 of 26 3-pointers. Ethan Happ and D’Mitrik Trice, a Wayne graduate, each scored 16 points for the Badgers.
• Virginia (4-0) beat Middle Tennessee State 74-52 in the final first-round game. Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter each scored 15.
Thursday’s schedule: Oklahoma plays Wisconsin at 1:30 p.m. in one semifinal (ESPN). Virginia plays Dayton at 4 p.m. (ESPN) in the second semifinal. Florida plays Stanford at 7 p.m. in the consolation round (ESPN2). Middle Tennessee plays Butler at 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU).
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