The Dayton Flyers have been able to stay very close to home in this first week of the NCAA tournament and they cashed both times on the college basketball betting lines. They’ll be able to play one more game in the state of Ohio this Sunday when they take on the Oklahoma Sooners.
The Dayton Flyers Can Win Because…
Their defense is playing so well right now. Dayton has taken part in two NCAA Tournament. games over the past few days. The Flyers played in the First Four in their own building on Wednesday. Then they played in Columbus, Ohio, on a Friday night. In these two games against Boise State and then Providence, Dayton has allowed an average of 54 points per game. The Flyers know where and how they need to be in position on defense. They just do not give up very many easy baskets, and the amount of uncontested shots they allow is extremely minimal as well. Just attempting a jumper is an act of risk against this team, because it gives Dayton the chance to run the floor in transition and score points without even worrying about halfcourt offense.
How good was Dayton on defense against Providence on Friday? The Flyers held the Friars of the Big East to 34 percent field goal shooting. Providence’s two highest scorers and best players – LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn – hit a combined 11 of 39 shots from the field. They were both bothered by Dayton’s pressure. Dunn entered the game as one of the more efficient passers in the country. He had averaged over seven assists per game. However, he was limited to only four assists by Dayton while committing seven turnovers. He was out of rhythm from the start.
Oklahoma is a strong defensive team, but the Sooners can and do go through scoring droughts on offense. OU rates 181st in the nation in three-point shooting. The Sooners are a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of various shooting metrics. They’re outside the top 100 in terms of points scored per possession. Dayton might not score a ton against Oklahoma, but it can win this game but shutting down the Sooners.
The Oklahoma Sooners Can Win Because…
The players on this team that need to play well for OU on Sunday are the ones who played really well on Friday against Albany. TaShawn Thomas and Ryan Spangler are Oklahoma’s two big men. If they’re playing well, this team generally succeeds. If they’re off their game, guards Buddy Hield, Jordan Woodard, and Isaiah Cousins need to shoot at a high percentage, which doesn’t happen often – occasionally, but not often. Friday against Albany, Thomas and Spangler were excellent.
Thomas was Oklahoma’s leading scorer with 18 points. What’s even more important is that he scored an efficient 18 points, on 7 of 11 field goal shooting. He was a dependable player who used his size effectively. Dayton does not have a starter who is taller than six and half feet. With no one taller than 6-6 on the Flyers’ roster, Oklahoma can play over the top, with Thomas posting up and creating high-quality scoring chances. Thomas should feel very confident that he can do what needs to be done against a smaller team.
Spangler was Oklahoma’s best rebounder and, for that matter, the best rebounder on the court against Albany. He collected 11 boards, some of them crucial offensive rebounds late in the game to drain the clock and prevent Albany from getting a better chance at a comeback. If he can be similarly productive on the glass, Dayton will need a great shooting performance to win against an Oklahoma team that's listed as a favorite on the NCAA Tournament odds.
The Sooners are taller and stronger than Dayton, but the Flyers, by playing so close to home, will have a boisterous home crowd behind them. This is going to be a road game for Oklahoma, and that’s the kind of thing which is going to matter here. Take Dayton with your NCAA tournament picks in what should be a one-basket game. It’s going to be very close, either way.
NCAA Tournament Pick: Dayton +4.5 at 5Dimes