By: Evan Schaub – Senior Communication
Christmas season is no longer the most wonderful time of the year – the fourth week in March is now its rewarding replacement.
For the first time in 30 long years, the University of Dayton men’s basketball team is in the Sweet 16 after successfully pulling off two close wins in a row.
Oh, how sweet it is.
Every once in a while mid-majors get a chance to prove themselves on the biggest stage of collegiate sports, and this year the Flyers are the mid-major school doing just that.
This is a turn of events no one saw coming and it has caused a huge disruption to countless brackets across the nation. T-shirt advertisements for UD being the “bracket buster” are beginning to saturate social media.
According to ESPN’s tournament challenge, out of the 11 million or more brackets that were filled out, only 0.4 percent predicted a Dayton-Stanford matchup in the Sweet 16. Shocking, right?
This has inevitably led to a massive amount of free publicity, which is priceless for a university seeking to bandage its reputation after previous incidents.
The UD basketball team is making our degree worth more simply because we keep winning.
Because Dayton is still in the tournament, you have people like broadcaster Verne Lundquist talking about the strength of a UD communication degree.
Outside of the occasional mention of Dan Patrick, that certainly wouldn’t have been discussed on the national stage if it weren’t for our basketball team’s surprising journey to the national championship.
For a graduating senior like myself, this is a great thing. Every time I meet a potential employer from here on out, those that didn’t know about our school before will probably know exactly where the University of Dayton is and what we’re all about.
That could be a direct result of what our basketball team is doing.
For those reasons, what this means for our school cannot be undersold. Being the lead story on SportsCenter cannot be undersold either.
High school students who might not have considered Dayton prior to our entrance into the Sweet 16 may see that clip of Dr. Curran crowd-surfing on ESPN and have second thoughts about both the academic and campus environment.
While many people think the Flyers can’t keep winning, they should remember that similar teams have made Elite 8 and final four runs before. A team doesn’t necessarily need NBA prospects to reach the national championship. It takes strong will from the athletes and thorough preparation from the coaching staff to ensure success and survival in the bracket.
Take Butler, for example.
Butler made it to the national championship game in 2011 out of the eight seed and had 15 losses in the Horizon League during that season.
They got there because they had good players who were undervalued and because they were extremely well-coached by Brad Stevens, who is now the head coach of the Celtics in the NBA.
Butler was Steven’s first head coaching job and he made the final four for the first time in his third year as head coach.
The Flyers are not so different themselves. Dayton is Archie’s first head coaching job as well, and this is his third season at the school. Steven’s was 33 when he coached Butler to its first Final Four. Miller is 35.
The lowest seed to ever win the tournament was Villanova, who was an eight seed in 1985. Since that point in March Madness history there have only been three 11 seeds that have made the final four: LSU in 1986, George Mason in 2006 and Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011.
Hopefully this year the Flyers can be the fourth team to reach and hopefully win the tournament.
Doing so may help strengthen and preserve the reputation of this university as a place where valuing togetherness yields true success.
All we can do as students is enjoy this time. We should be proud of what our team has done and root for them to keep winning.
Even if they don’t win, the UD men’s basketball team has done more for this school than they know.