March Forecast: Evaluating Dayton’s NCAA tournament hopes

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Charles Cooke and Kyle Davis celebrate a win over GW. David Jablonski/Staff

No one seems to know when it’s too early to start predicting the NCAA tournament bracket. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, the most famous name in the science of March Madness, made his first guesses last August. He predicted Dayton would earn a No. 10 seed then.

In truth, anyone guessing before Selection Sunday might as well be throwing darts at a blank bracket. There are too many variables, too many games between now and then, to make any guesses with conviction. That doesn’t stop the experts from trying or us from eating it all up.

Here’s a roundup of where Dayton (16-3) sits in the predictions, as of Jan. 26:

Lunardi: No. 7 seed Dayton vs. No. 10 seed Valparaiso in St. Louis.

Jerry Palm, CBS: No. 5 Dayton vs. No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock in Raleigh, N.C. No. 5 Dayton vs. No. 12 Gonzaga/UCLA.

NBCSports: No. 6 Dayton vs. No. 11 Gonzaga in Providence. No. 5 Dayton vs. No. 12 Cincinnati or Creighton in Spokane, Wash.

Bracketville: No. 6 Dayton vs. No. 11 Gonzaga.

Sporting News: Dayton gets a No. 6 seed in this prediction. The writer says the Flyers did their job in the non-conference portion of the schedule by beating Iowa and others and now it’s more about avoiding ugly losses than earning quality wins.

Other rankings:

  • Dance Card, whose “formula has correctly predicted 141 of 146 at-large bids over the last four years combined (97%),” ranks Dayton 14th in the nation and gives them (at the moment) a 100 percent chance of making the tournament field.
  • Dayton ranks 10th in the RPI. The RPI uses winning percentage, opponents’ winning percentage and opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage in its calculations.
  • gives Dayton a 93 percent chance of making the field and a 46 percent chance of earning a top-four seed.
  • ranks Dayton 43rd in the country. Ken Pomeroy’s rankings take into account margin of victory, home-court advantage and many more factors than the RPI.
  • The Flyers ranks 38th in the Sagarin Ratings.
  • gives the Flyers an average seed of 5.27. It compiles the numerous bracket predictions. Dayton’s highest seed is a 3, and its lowest is a 7.
  • The Flyers rank 26th in both the AP and USA Today coaches polls.

Big picture

Dayton barely made the tournament last season with 25 wins but has a much better resume this season. It was 2-2 versus top-50 RPI teams last season and is 4-1 this season. They made the tournament with 23 wins in 2014 and were 4-6 against top 50 teams.

The Flyers are in great shape to make the tournament for a third year in a row, something the program hasn’t done since the 1960s. At this point, they’re playing for seeding as much as anything. Dayton earned a No. 4 seed in 2003 but otherwise has been seeded between 9 and 12 in eight other appearances since 1984.

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