NCAA Tournament Midwest Region: (7) Dayton Flyers vs. (10) Syracuse Orange

Dayton is 1.5 point favorites over #10 seeded Syracuse in NCAA tournament action Friday morning.
Dayton is 1.5 point favorites over #10 seeded Syracuse in NCAA tournament action Friday morning.

7 Dayton vs. 10 Syracuse
Time: 11:15 PM CT (CBS)
Spread: DAY -1.5
Total: 129

Betting odds c/o Pincle

The Dayton Flyers finished their season 25-7 with a first place finish in the Atlantic 10 standings, despite losing in the semifinals to St. Joe’s. The Flyers will face No. 10 seeded Syracuse on CBS Friday morning (11:15 AM Central) as 1.5 point favorites in second round action in the Midwest Region. College basketball oddsmakers at Pincle have set the over/under at 129.

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Dayton is led by 6’5” junior guard Charles Cooke, who posted 15 .7 points, six rebounds and two assists per game this season in 32 minutes a night. He improved his efficiency from his sophomore season at James Madison when he shot just 41.5 percent from the floor. This year he was good for a respectable 45 percent while knocking down 41 percent of his threes (attempting 4.5 per game). Cooke has not shot well recently, though. In Dayton’s past three games he is just 11 of 35 from the field while averaging 13.3 points per game. In the loss to St. Joe’s he was just 4 of 10 from the floor for 13 points, though he did come up with six boards, two blocks and a steal in 35 minutes of play.

Six-foot-six senior forward Dyshawn Pierre had a nice season for Dayton, as well. He more or less peaked last season as a junior, but he replicated his 13 points and eight rebounds per game this season while shooting 45 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from three-point range. Pierre had a big game in the loss to St. Joe’s, hitting 8 of 15 from the field and 2 of 5 from three-point range en route to 22 points, five rebounds and an assist in 30 minutes of play. He came into that game having shot a combined 6 of 20 form the floor in wins over VCU and Richmond.

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Scoochie Smith and Kendall Pollard round out the Flyers’ double digit scorers with 11.7 and 10.6 points per game, respectively. Smith also led the team in assists per game with 4.3 per night, while keeping his turnovers down to just 1.8 per game. Dayton averaged 13 turnovers as a team, while shooting 46 percent from the field and averaging 73 points per game.

Syracuse finished the season 19-13 but was just 9th in the ACC. The Orange lost in the second round of the ACC tournament 72-71 to Pittsburgh. Michael Gbinije had 24 points in the loss, and the 6’7” senior forward averaged 17.8 points, 4.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game in nearly 38 minutes a night this season. He closed the season by scoring 21.2 points per game over the Orange’s last five games. That included a 34 point night against NC State on Feb 27, which saw Gbinije shoot 11 of 18 from the field and 8 of 13 from three-point range while also coming up with six assists and four rebounds.

Malachi Richardson, Trevor Cooney and Tyler Lydon all also post double figures for Syracuse. Lydon should prove crucial. He is a 6’8” freshman forward who led the team in blocked shots with 1.5 per game while scoring 10.1 points per game, and grabbing 6.4 rebounds per night. He was virtually invisible against Pitt with just nine points and six boards in the loss, but prior to that he had averaged 15 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in the Orange’s previous four games. In the matchup against Pitt on Feb. 20 he had 21 points on 8 of 12 shooting while hitting four threes in the game.

The Orange need him to be big on the boards and make himself a scorer. That might be asking a lot of a freshman, but Lydon is a pretty mature player who thrived in a major conference his first NCAA season.

A lot of bettors and bracketeers may be favoring the major conference team in Syracuse, but be sure not to overlook Dayton in this game. The Flyers have been getting great play from Pierre and this game will be a showcase of his talents along with Syracuse’s Gbinije.

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