Record: 25-7 (14-4 Atlantic 10)
Head Coach: Archie Miller (5th season)
Season Recap: If there is one thing that characterizes the Flyers, it is their stingy defense—which is ranked No. 39 in the country in scoring defense, allowing only 65.8 points per contest. Paced by the duo of junior guard Charles Cooke and senior forward Dyshawn Pierre—who combined for 28.7 points and 14.6 rebounds per contest—Dayton clinched the Atlantic 10 regular-season crown by beating Virginia Commonwealth in a 68-67 thriller at the beginning of March. But Miller’s squad has lost four of its last eight games and could not take home its second conference crown, falling to the fourth-seeded Saint Joseph’s 82-79 in the semifinals March 12. It remains to be seen if the Flyers can bounce back from the upset loss against the Hawks and make a long run in the Big Dance, in which they reached the Elite 8 stage in 2014.
How they make a run: The Flyers find the perfect balance between the fighting spirit of their stalwart defense and Cooke’s gunpowder. The Trenton, N.J., native has scored in double-digits in all but seven games this season, including a career-best 26 points in a 64-50 victory against Fordham Jan. 24.
How they falter: The lack of stiff tests throughout the season makes it difficult for Dayton to adapt against major conference teams in the NCAA tournament. Cooke and his teammates have only battled two ranked opponents this year, falling to then-No. 23 Xavier 90-61 Nov. 29 and defeating then-No. 21 Vanderbilt 72-67 in Nashville, Tenn. 10 days later.
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