UD Men’s Basketball joins impressive field in South Dakota tournament

With Ohio State also included in the field of the South Dakota tournament, the UD men’s basketball team will have a chance to repeat some recent history. Photo by Ethan Klosterman, Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

The University of Dayton men’s basketball team will participate in an early-season tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., replacing Duke in a field that includes in-state foe Ohio State, Jon Rothstein and Jeff Goodman first reported Friday night.

Also in the field, which will take place at the 3,500-seat Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, will include West Virginia, Memphis, Creighton, Wichita State, Texas A&M and Utah. 

Each of the eight teams in the field – including Duke – were scheduled to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the travel restrictions, the teams decided to move to South Dakota, where the pandemic hasn’t hit quite as hard.

No dates or match-ups have been announced for the unnamed tournament, but with the season set to begin Nov. 25, it is likely the tournament will be played between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Whenever the games get played, it will provide the Flyers with an excellent opportunity to play against several teams that ranked in the top 50 of last year’s NCAA Evaluation tool (Dayton was No. 3 overall): No. 11 Creighton, No. 16 Ohio State, No. 17 West Virginia and No. 41 Wichita State.

The Flyers were originally set to play in the Myrtle Beach Invitational, but according to a report by Goodman last week, the Flyers and Nebraska Cornhuskers dropped out of a field that included a less-potent field compared to the South Dakota group: Charlotte, Loyola, Missouri, Nebraska, Penn, Pittsburgh and Utah State.

After the incredible 29-2 season the Flyers had last year, the expectations are high, even with the losses of Obi Toppin, Trey Landers and Ryan Mikesell. And with the bubbles that will be created (or already are planned) because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s team will have many opportunities to play against top competition.

Another one of those opportunities is Holiday Hoopsgiving 2020 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Ga. The showcase event extended its window to Dec. 10-17 from just single match-ups set for Dec. 12, according to Rothstein. 

For Dayton, that match-up on Dec. 12 is scheduled to be against Mississippi State. Now, it’s likely head coach Anthony Grant’s team will play against at least a couple of these teams as well: LSU, South Florida, Alabama, Clemson, Auburn and Memphis (again).

Finally, Rothstein also reported the Flyers still plan to begin their home-and-home series against Ole Miss, starting with the Dec. 19 match-up this year at UD Arena.

As a mid-major program, the opportunity to play against Power 5 teams is a huge win for the UD basketball program and will give the Flyers a chance to boost a potential tournament resume.