Scoochie Smith at the Red and Blue game. David Jablonski/Staff
The 2015-16 college basketball season is just around the corner. In honor of the Flyers winning 53 games the last two seasons (and because I couldn’t come up with 2,015 reasons), I’m counting down 53 reasons (in no particular order) to look forward to the season.
Follow the blog between now and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 13. I will have four to five updates per week.
I’ll post links on Twitter (@DavidPJablonski) and on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DavidPatrickJablonski.
No. 8: Advocare Invitational
The Orlando Classic had a much more classic name. The Advocare Invitational doesn’t role off the tongue quite as well and takes longer to type. But at least everyone will come home from Florida slimmer and healthier because Advocare builds champions. That’s what I hear anyway.
The Flyers play Iowa in the first round at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Hopefully, everyone’s not too turkey tired by then to watch. I examined that game earlier on the list. Let’s take a quick look at the other possible opponents.
Round Two: Notre Dame or Monmouth
As always in these tournaments, a round-one victory is very important for the Flyers because it sets up a better opportunity in round two. The Flyers beat Texas A&M in the first round last year in Puerto Rico and played Connecticut in the second round instead of Charleston.
Notre Dame ranks 18th in the USA Today preseason coaches poll. It finished 32-6 a season ago. That was a 17-win improvement over the previous season.
The 15-17 record in 2013-14 was an aberration. The Irish won between 21 and 27 games from 2008-09 to 20012-13. The program is a consistent winner and has played in the NCAA tournament seven times in the last nine seasons, reaching the Elite Eight last March before losing 68-66 to Kentucky.
Notre Dame lost two of its top three scorers but returns everyone else. One of the returners is V.J. Beachem, a 6-8 junior forward who was a teammate of Dayton’s Steve McElvene at New Haven (Ind.) High School.
Notre Dame beat St. Francis (Ill.) 87-56 in an exhibition game Saturday.
Dayton is 13-28 all time against Notre Dame. The teams played annually from 1970 to 1995. Bucky Albers wrote about the end of that series 20 years ago. The Flyers won the last game 73-63 at UD Arena.
A popular University of Dayton basketball tradition will end tonight when the Flyers host Notre Dame at UD Arena.
Notre Dame has decided to stop its 26-year-old men’s basketball series with Dayton, starting next season.
“It’s certainly nothing against Dayton,” Notre Dame Coach John MacLeod said Monday. “The Dayton-Notre Dame series has been a great series. Dayton has a great basketball tradition. It’s a great basketball town. Those fans are tremendous there.”
MacLeod said the discontinuance of the Dayton series has been made necessary by Notre Dame’s move into the Big East Conference.
“We are changing our approach with regard to how we are going to set up our non-conference schedule,” MacLeod said. “We’re trying to do what other schools have done – develop a home non-conference schedule. We’re trying to do what will give us an opportunity to get into the NCAA (Tournament).
“All the schools we’ve been playing want to play home and home. We can’t play, in our opinion, 18 Big East games and turn around and have five non-conference games at home and four on the road or vice versa.”
As for Monmouth, it finished 18-15 last season and ranked 174th in the RPI. That was the first time it finished in the top 200 since 2005-06. Monmouth was picked to finish second in the Metro Atlantic.
Here’s a quick glance at the four possible opponents in the final game:
Xavier: UD’s new AD Neil Sullivan is on record saying he would be open to restarting the series with the Musketeers. It could happen in Orlando, which is what I’m rooting for, of course. The two seasons I’ve covered the Flyers are the only two seasons they haven’t played Xavier in … forever.
Xavier plays Alabama in the first round and Wichita State or Southern California in the second round. Xavier finished 23-14 last season and were picked fourth in the Big East. Junior forward Jalen Reynolds and sophomore guard Trevon Bluiett earned preseason All-Big East honors.
Alabama: I don’t think anyone on the Alabama or Dayton side want to play each other in Orlando on Nov. 29 because they play each other 12 days earlier at UD Arena. I profiled Alabama yesterday on this list.
Wichita State: The Shockers enter the season ranked 10th in the AP preseason poll. They have won 30 or more games in the past three seasons. They have played in the NCAA tournament four straight seasons, reaching the Sweet 16 last March and the Final Four in 2013. Wichita returns its top two scorers, Ron Baker (14.7) and Fred VanVleet (13.6).
Dayton has not played Wichita State since 1962 when the Flyers won 79-71 in the NIT.
Southern Cal: The Flyers played a two-game series against USC a couple years ago, losing 63-61 in overtime at USC in 2012 and 79-76 in overtime a year later on a last-second 3-pointer by Pe’Shon Howard.
The Trojans have suffered four straight losing seasons, the last two under new coach Andy Enfield (11-21 and 12-20). Their top seven scorers last season were all freshmen or sophomores, and they’re all back. They didn’t have a senior last season.