The University of Dayton women’s basketball team is not a darling of its sport.
It’s not the University of Connecticut, nor does it have a player like Baylor University’s Brittney Griner on the roster, but it certainly deserved a better hand than what the NCAA dealt during Monday night’s tournament selection event.
Projected as a No. 4 seed by ESPN.com’s Charlie Creme at the time the real bracket was unveiled, the Flyers had every reason to accept his guess as the likely outcome.
Dayton was the outright regular season champion in the Atlantic 10 Conference and an A-10 tournament semifinalist, losing to eventual winner Saint Joseph’s University on its home court. UD only dropped one other game all season.
According to NCAA.com, UD ranks in the Ratings Percentage Index at No. 13 in the nation. It’s also one of the more balanced teams when it comes to individual performances, with at least three players averaging double-digits in the scoring column.
Despite all of this, UD will be a No. 7 seed. Even more troubling, Dayton plays 10th-seeded Saint John’s University in, wait for it, Queens, N.Y., on its home court.
It was duly noted in ESPN’s selection coverage that St. John’s barely got into the field of 64, winning seven of its last eight games to make the tournament. Granted, the site was already pre-determined by the NCAA, so the home court is a natural occurrence in this situation.
But why is Oklahoma University playing in Columbus as a No. 6 seed? That should be Dayton, with all due respect. If location and crowds actually matter in the selection process like it is claimed they do, the committee would have realized that a bigger crowd, and more money, would have come in with the Flyers staying in Ohio.
Overall, Dayton’s draw in the Bridgeport Regional is tough for UD, who is ranked 18th nationally in the last AP top 25 poll. The NCAA chose St. Joe’s as a No. 9 seed and the No. 8 seed to Vanderbilt University, both of whom are teams UD beat in the regular season.
The most intriguing move by the committee in this part of the bracket, however, may be the choice of Michigan State University as the No. 5 seed. The Spartans finished with six losses in a Big 10 Conference that isn’t that strong this season, and also lost to Dayton on Dec. 8, 2012, at UD Arena.
The Flyers are familiar with its potential second round opponent in the University of Kentucky, as the two faced off in an off-the-books scrimmage prior to the start of the season.
In the tournament, winning isn’t an easy thing to come by, but when you’re stuck in a bracket with UK and UConn, it can get even tougher.
Another team that seemed to get little respect from the committee was the other UD, the University of Delaware. With a player like Elena Delle Donne, Delaware has been hard to beat at 30-3 this season. If things pan out, there could be a UD-UD matchup with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line.
Nevertheless, Dayton will have its hands full in its part of the bracket.
This isn’t to say it would have an easy road elsewhere. They could win it all, or they could get knocked out by St. John’s right away, nobody knows. That is the beauty of college basketball.
Yes, UD deserved a higher seed and a closer location. But, just like in the game itself, the ball doesn’t always roll the way of the team that deserves it. They’ll have to overcome adversity, not just a tough draw.
So to the NCAA selection committee members, UD women’s basketball team did its job, perhaps it’s time you all started doing yours a little better.