The defending NIT Champs are a puzzling team. After a 5-0 start including an OT win at Ole Miss, the Flyers have gone 4-3, including a loss to Cincinnati by 34 and a head scratcher at home to East Tennessee State.
Before the start of the season, Dayton was a sure lock to be one of the toughest teams on Seton Hall's schedule. A few weeks later, and I'm a bit skeptical. Dayton fans, as well as Pirate fans, are hoping the back to back losses to Cincinnati and ETSU were flukes.
Dayton sports a sizable front court, composed of 6-10 Devin Searcy, 6-8 Chris Wright. and 6-6 Chris Johnson. How will Herb Pope (6-8), Jeff Robinson (6-6) and Fuquan Edwin (6-6) handle the apparent size disadvantage? 6-9 Patrik Auda and 6-8 Anali Okoloji will look to fill in as front court reinforcements.
KenPom Prediction: Seton Hall 74, Dayton 64
Ok, Pirate fans- the schedule gets a whole lot tougher now. The Dayton Flyers come to town on Wednesday, a program with a storied history and a darn good team, one that will compete at the top of the A-10 this year. Last year, they suffered from the same problem as the Pirates; they lost some VERY close games to teams they should have beaten. Nevertheless, they advanced to the NIT and won the whole thing, knocking off Illinois State, Cincinnati (in what was, in my opinion, the most physical game of the year), Illinois, Ole Miss, and North Carolina to take the title.
Seton Hall has won three straight for the first time in the Kevin Willard era. Most recently, they defeated NJIT, 68-45, on Sunday. Freshman Fuquan Edwin was named BIG EAST Rookie of the Week on Monday. The Pirates remain home for the third of five straight home games with Dayton on Wednesday. Seton Hall is a perfect 4-0 at the Prudential Center this season. Jordan Theodore leads the team with 12.2 points per game while Jeremy Hazell is out with a broken bone in his left wrist.
Dayton has won four of its last five and is 9-3 overall. Chris Wright, who will play his 100th career game in a Dayton uniform, leads the Flyer attack averaging 13.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Yet UD has had plenty of help on the offensive end. Juwan Staten, named to the Bob Cousy Award candidate list, has 25 assists in his last three games and a remarkable 4.2 assist-to-turnover ratio in that span (25 assists, 6 turnovers). Another Flyer who has been red-hot of late is Chris Johnson. He is averaging 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and is 18-of-19 at the free throw line in his last five games. As a team, the Flyers have been excellent on the glass this season out-rebounding opponents by a plus-6.0 margin.