In the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, upsets don’t happen.
Weekly rankings, preseason predictions and Las Vegas point spreads mean nothing as teams take to a neutral court against a worthy opponent. Save for biased officiating, there isn’t any figurative advantage for any particular team.
If a team beats another team, it is simply because that team was better by at least a point that day.
Although No. 11 Dayton enters Thursday’s second round matchup against No. 6 Ohio State as the underdog, it knows all it has to do is lead the scoreboard at the end of regulation, or overtime(s).
A team like Dayton — if hot — wouldn’t have to just outlast the Buckeyes, but would have a chance to convincingly beat them. OSU coach Thad Matta is seasoned and does well in the tournament year after year. He is one of the best coaches in the sport, and usually brings with him a more than capable team.
This year, however, these Buckeyes are not his usually cohesive work of coaching genius. While Ohio State thrives on the defensive end behind the play of senior guard Aaron Craft, its offense is flawed because much of it goes through Craft, who is not an extremely gifted shooter or scorer. The battle-tested senior is one of the best point guards in the country, but his offensive skills have not improved as much as other aspects of his game.
OSU’s reliance on Craft allows for a team to have success if he doesn’t play well or is contained by a well-formulated scheme. The Flyers may not be as skilled as the Buckeyes defensively, but they posses a much more potent offense.
The plan for Dayton should be to push the ball as swiftly as possible. Ohio State is a good transition defense, but it’s hard for anyone to consistently guard a 3-1-man advantage in the fast brake.
The Flyers are not the sexy pick in this matchup, but playing in a competitive Atlantic 10 Conference has this team more than ready for Ohio State. If points come at a premium, expect Dayton to be right in the thick of things against a tourney favorite.