What UVA Basketball fans might have needed to know about Dayton

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Photo by Dan Grogan.

The AFP NCAA Tournament fantasy bracket has Virginia squaring up with Dayton, and the guy with all the dunks, Obi Toppin.

Beware: the Flyers are more than Toppin.

Former VCU coach Anthony Grant landed in Dayton after a midding six-year run at Alabama, where his teams won 20+ games three times, but he only led the Tide to one NCAA Tournament, in 2012.

Dayton won 21 last year, in Grant’s second season at the helm, and you might remember, or might not, that one of the losses was to Virginia, in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis, and that it was close.

Virginia won that one, 66-59, getting 23 from De’Andre Hunter, on 8-of-11 shooting.

Toppin had 13 points in 26 minutes off the bench for Dayton in that one, which, interesting, huh?

The kid who was the sensation this season didn’t start until the second half of his freshman season, though he did average 14.4 points per game on 66.6 percent shooting from the floor.

This season, he became a monster, averaging 20.0 points per game, on 63.3 percent shooting, and though the shooting percentage was down a couple of ticks, it’s because he added the three to his game, and shot 39.0 percent from deep.

Scary.

And his versatility defensively allows Grant to play him at the five, allowing the Flyers to attack from all five spots offensively.

Getting to know: Dayton

The backcourt features 6’1” guards Rodney Chatman (7.7 ppg, 3.2 assists/g, 40.4% FG, 36.0% 3FG) and Jalen Crutcher (15.1 ppg, 4.9 assists/g, 46.8% FG, 42.4% 3FG), with 6’5” sixth man Ibi Watson (10.1 ppg, 49.8% FG, 39.3% 3FG) getting time at two and three, and 6’2” Dwayne Cohill (2.6 ppg, 13.0 mins/g) getting some minutes.

Grant goes traditional up front, with 6’5” Trey Landers (10.5 ppg, 6.9 rebs/g, 56.5% FG, 31.3% 3FG) and 6’7” Ryan Mikesell (8.5 ppg, 4.7 rebs/g, 47.8% FG, 26.1% 3FG) at three and four, with the 6’9” Toppin at five, backed up by 6’11” Jordy Tshiminga (3.0 ppg, 9.8 mins/g).

This Dayton group is scary good offensively, averaging 80.0 points per game, and ranking second nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency (1.191 points per possession, per KenPom.com).

It was also just outside the top 10 percent of teams in adjusted defense (0.941 points per possession, 38th nationally).

How Virginia would have matched up

6’9” center Mamadi Diakite (13.7 ppg, 6.8 rebs/g, 47.8% FG, 36.4% 3FG) is getting some late-first-round NBA Draft love in the mock drafts, and the one-on-one matchup with Toppin would have been a chance for him to solidify his draft status.

It’s safe to say that this game wouldn’t have had any Toppin windmill or through-the-legs dunks.

7’1” power forward Jay Huff (8.5 ppg, 6.2 rebounds/g, 57.1% FG, 35.8% 3FG) might see his minutes limited if he would have had early trouble on D against the smaller Mikesell and Landers at four.

6’8” Braxton Key (9.9 ppg, 7.4 rebs/g, 43.5% FG, 18.5% 3FG) on Landers would have been a good matchup for Virginia.

And you’d have to like 5’9” Kihei Clark (10.8 ppg, 5.9 assists/g, 4.2 rebs/g, 37.5% 3FG) on Crutcher one-on-one.

Story by Chris Graham


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