As part of its preview of the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All stats are through Monday, March 16.
Record: 25-8 (13-5 A 10)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 107.2 (73rd)/94.7 (38th)
Seed: First Four
Impact player: Dyshawn Pierre, junior, forward. 12.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 106.7 offensive rating
The Case for: Go ahead. Try to tell the Flyers they can’t do something. See how that works out. This is a team that went from the bubble to the Elite Eight a year ago, then finished second in the Atlantic 10 and 23-7 overall despite having only seven scholarship players (one of whom was originally a walk-on) nobody taller than 6’6”. Those circumstances—the result of a partial academic qualifier, the midseason dismissal of the team’s two big men, and concussions to senior guard Ryan Bass—forced Archie Miller to play small-ball, and to impressive results.
Despite the deficiencies in depth and size, the Flyers rank 35th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency and 21st in two-point shooting percentage. Pierre’s adjustment from wing to post has been a key stabilizer, as have the scoring outbursts of all-conference first-team guard Jordan Sibert, a strong jump shooter who averages 16.6 points per game. As demonstrated by his 18 points on 4-of-9 three-point shooting against Stanford in last year’s Sweet 16, Sibert is not daunted by bright lights. And as demonstrated by this year and last, Dayton isn’t daunted by much at all. Add in the fact that the committee gave the Flyers a home game to start the tournament, they are in good position to get off to a good start.
The Case against: Well, they are small, and their rotation is shallow. Any sort of foul trouble would render them even more shorthanded, and teams that can bang inside would give the Flyers a handful on post-ups, against which they rank in the 32nd percentile according to Synergy Sports. And if they struggle to defend the post and resort to fouling, that will only exacerbate their other primary weakness.
While Sibert and point guard Scoochie Smith are quality spot-up shooters, Dayton as a whole is only an above-average team from beyond the arc (35.9%), so the shutting down of its offense inside of it could spell trouble. The Flyers are essentially absent on the offensive boards, where they collect just 24.2% of their misses (330th in the country) and get blocked on a whopping 11.8% of their two-point attempts (317th) according to kenpom.com. If Massachusetts, Duquesne, and La Salle could beat the Flyers within the past six weeks, then plenty of tourney-caliber teams can too.
SI prediction: Beat Dayton in First Four, lose to Oklahoma in Round of 64