Last season, the Dayton Flyers as an 11 seed made a magical run in the NCAA Tournament. That magical run took them all the way to the Elite 8, where they would lose to the first seed Florida Gators 62-52.
The question this upcoming season will be can they go back to the NCAA Tournament? That question is tough to answer, even though they finished the season 26-11 and 10-6 in conference. The last Atlantic 10 team that made a Cinderella run like Dayton was the La Salle Explorers in the 2012-13 season. Then we saw this past season, the Explorers didn’t make the postseason at all. So how can Dayton not be in the same situation as La Salle? Let’s take a look.
Dayton’s top two leading scorers from last season were junior guard Jordan Sibert and senior Devin Oliver. Sibert averaged 12.2 points and Oliver averaged 12.5 points per game. Just like how the Explorers missed Ramon Galloway, the Flyers will miss Oliver. Oliver also led the team in rebounding and assists.
Without Oliver, other players must step up for Dayton if they want to sniff the NCAA Tournament this upcoming season. One of those players that will have to step up to help Sibert is forward Dyshawn Pierre. Last season, as a sophomore, Pierre averaged 11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. He was third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding.
Pierre is capable of putting up a double-double every time he touches the court. Last season, he had five games in which he had a double-double. In a game versus Iona, Pierre scored 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Dayton went on to win 96-84. Pierre is a good shooter as well. Last season, he shot 49.5 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from three-point range.
Besides players, Dayton also has a good head coach in Archie Miller, the brother of Sean, who coaches at the University of Arizona. Miller will have his team ready to play each and every game this season despite their competition.
Finally, looking at their non-conference schedule for this upcoming season, they open up on November 14 at home versus Alabama A&M. Then beginning on November 20-23, they will be participating in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Teams participating in the field are Texas A&M, UConn, Charleston, Boston College, George Mason, New Mexico, and West Virginia. This is a very formidable field for Dayton to make some noise in.
After the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Dayton will finish their non-conference schedule against Illinois-Chicago, Miami, Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green, Arkansas, Boston University, Georgia Tech and Ole Miss. Just looking at their non-conference schedule, if Dayton can go .500 or better, then expect them to make a NCAA Tournament run.
Last season, Dayton went 12-3 in non-conference. If they can replicate that once again, the entire campus will be dancing into March Madness.