Dayton flys into top 10 in NCAA title odds
In a season more unpredictable than most in recent memory, a mid-major has emerged in the top 10, ahead of many college basketball blue bloods.
The Dayton Flyers are ranked sixth in the nation, just behind Kansas and Louisville, and ahead of Duke and Kentucky. The Atlantic 10 team has also seen its odds to win the national championship move from +3000 to +2000. That puts the Flyers ahead of Kentucky, Maryland, Florida State, and Villanova—just to name a few—on the odds board.
Odds to win the NCAA National Championship
|Team||2020 NCAA Championship Odds||Sample Header|
Duke Blue Devils
San Diego Aztecs
Michigan State Spartans
So how did this mid-major team reach major success? Let’s take a look at what’s working for the Flyers this season.
Toppin the competition
Any story about this 20-2 Dayton team has to highlight Obi Toppin. The 6-foot-9, 225-pound forward has made a splash on the national scene, and is a frontrunner for the Wooden Award. He’s averaging a team-leading 19.7 points per game and eight rebounds.
Much of the buzz around Toppin and the Flyers began at the Maui Invitational. During that December tournament, the Flyers entered the AP Top 25 at No. 19, and took No. 3 Kansas to overtime in a 90-84 loss. During the tournament Toppin averaged 22.3 points, seven rebounds, and 1.3 blocks.
In Dayton’s close call against Duquesne on Jan. 29, Toppin helped the Flyers escape. He posted double-double (22 points and 10 rebounds) and hit two clutch free throws to seal a 73-69 win.
The Flyers’ Landers
It’s not just Toppin putting up numbers for Dayton. Trey Landers has been a difference maker. The 6-foot-5 senior guard averages 11 points and six rebounds per game.
A mature and tough leader on and off the court, Landers earned his starting spot after a rocky start in Dayton. As a freshman under head coach Archie Miller, Landers played the fewest minutes of any scholarship player (52 minutes in nine games). Years later, he's a locker room leader.
Flyers will need a team effort to win in March
If the Flyers are going to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, they’ll need Toppin, Landers, and several others to continue their offensive excellence. Jalen Crutcher and Ibi Watson—who are averaging 14 and 11 points per game, respectively—will also have to contribute quality minutes and create other offensive threats opposing teams have to prepare for.
I’m always wary of mid-major Cinderellas, but this Dayton team looks a bit different. It could have the team to make a deep run in the tournament. National champion? Maybe not. But I can definitely picture this team getting to the Elite Eight.