Remember when Dayton advanced to the Elite Eight two years ago? Well, the Flyers weren’t a one-hit wonder.
Far from it.
Dayton, which came up just short against Oklahoma in the Round of 32 last year, looks poised to go on another deep tournament run in March. The No. 19 Flyers (20-3, 10-1) have won eight straight and 13 of 14 and are atop a tightly contested – and highly competitive – Atlantic-10 conference.
“The A-10’s as good as it’s been, and like you said, it starts with the coaches in this league,” Dayton head coach Archie Miller said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “There are tremendous coaches in this league – from Phil Martelli all the way down to the newest guys that are in their first year. Just very underrated players. There’s players here that can play anywhere in the country. It’s a shame that nobody pays attention to the regular season until about the last month because there’s been some teams in our league that have done some tremendous things. As it shakes down over the home stretch, I think anyone’s going to have a chance to win it. They can hold serve at home, and I think there’s about four or five teams that can make a run and get to the NCAA Tournament, which is great. To me, this will be about as competitive a league coming down the stretch as any.”
Dayton is the only ranked team in the A-10, but several of its members, including VCU and Saint Joseph’s, figure to be dancing come tournament time.
“We need some more people out there talking about the Atlantic-10,” Miller said. “It’s hard to watch television and all you see is the Big 12 and the ACC every single night. I know those teams are great. They got great coaches. They got great players. At the same time, I think when they play against an Atlantic-10 team at some point in time, maybe in the tournament when they catch them, they’re going to have their hands full.”
Look around the country. No one is chasing perfection like Kentucky did last season. There are plenty of good, but not necessarily great, teams in every conference. Kentucky isn’t even ranked in the top 20. Neither is Wichita State. Duke is unranked. So is Indiana.
“I think anybody can beat anybody on a given night, and I think this year’s tournament will be as crazy and as competitive as it’s ever been,” Miller said. “You look at the top five, 10, 15 teams in the country, and they probably all feel like they can win it all if they got on a great run. There’s probably 15 teams that we’re not talking about that’s going to catch fire as they head into March and you’re going to have to deal with them as well. So it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think one thing I want our guys to do is continue to just embrace each day we have. Hopefully we’re there standing at the end of the year and have our opportunity as well – because I know if we get into the tournament, the guys believe we can advance.”