The Dayton Flyers scored one of the big upsets on the first day of the NCAA tournament, taking out the Ohio State Buckeyes and ending the career of Aaron Craft, one of the most polarizing yet accomplished players in recent Big Ten history. Dayton won its "Little Brother versus Big Brother" game against an in-state opponent but now the Flyers will play a team that is not a natural rival.
The Flyers can win because…
They are sky-high after beating Ohio State on Thursday, thanks to a running six-footer by Vee Sanford with 3.8 seconds. Dayton controlled most of the game against Ohio State but struggled late in the second half, as the Flyers fell behind just a few seconds before Sanford rescued them. Beating a rival will always get a team very excited and happy but what has to give the Flyers extra encouragement for this game against Syracuse is that they beat Ohio State even without shooting the ball well. Dayton did not play its best game as the Flyers committed several turnovers late in the second half and felt bothered by Ohio State's defense at times. To still come out of that game with a win should enable Dayton head coach Archie Miller to convince his team that it can still be better.
The other thing to mention is that Syracuse can go into shooting slumps. The Orange did not shoot well at all in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament against North Carolina State. They did handle Western Michigan well in the second round on Thursday but anyone would tell you that Dayton represents a much, much tougher challenge than anything Western Michigan could have provided. That’s why the Flyers are worth a look for your sports picks.
The Orange can win because…
They are simply the much better team in this matchup – hands down. Syracuse has too much size, power and length for Dayton in the paint, and also in the Orange's zone defense, patented by head coach Jim Boeheim. Dayton struggled to shoot the ball from 15 feet and from three-point range against Ohio State, and Syracuse is an even better defensive team than Ohio State is. If Dayton can't find a player who can consistently hit some long shots in this game, the Flyers aren't going to be able to drive the ball to the basket and get the Orange in foul trouble. The matchup between Dayton's offense and Syracuse's defense is the matchup that's really going to be hard for the Flyers to figure out.
A more subtle reason why Syracuse should win this game is that when these two schools went to the Maui Invitational in Hawaii last November, they never played each other but were able to scout each other. Because of the extended scouting reports each team will have, Syracuse should be able to know what's coming from the Dayton side and that always helps a favorite cover the NCAA basketball odds against an underdog.
Outlook & Pick
The Orange match up well with Dayton, and they also played smoothly in their second-round win over Western Michigan. If a letdown occurs here for Syracuse, it would be very surprising.
Pick: Syracuse -6[gameodds]14/262377/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]