By: Daniel Massa – Sports Editor
The Dayton men’s basketball team’s game against Alabama at UD Arena will be featured on ESPN’s eighth-annual college basketball Tip-Off Marathon.
The Nov. 17 matchup with the Crimson Tide, four days after the season opener against Southeast Missouri State at UD Arena, is slated to tip off at 1 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN as part of a 16-game, approximately 30-hour streak of college basketball games on the ESPN family of networks.
The marathon begins Nov. 16 at 5:30 p.m. with a women’s game, pitting defending champion UConn against Ohio State. Dayton will play the 11th game in the lineup, and the game will be the first of the marathon aired on ESPN, with the first 10 being broadcast on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.
“For us to be a part of the biggest one-day event in college basketball is huge,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said in a statement. “It’s a great opportunity for exposure for our program, and a great opportunity for us to showcase our fans and atmosphere.”
That atmosphere was on full display last season when the team went 17-0 at home during the regular season—especially during Dayton’s win over Boise State in the First Four at UD Arena, although the Flyers were technically the away team in that game. The Flyers have not lost a game at UD Arena since Jan. 29, 2014, a 60-57 loss to Saint Joseph’s.
Yes, the 1 p.m. Tuesday slot for the Alabama game is unusual, but that shouldn’t faze UD fans.
“We recognize the early tipoff time is unique for our fans, but our fans have proven to support the Flyers day or night,” UD Deputy Director of Athletics Neil Sullivan said. “We know our fans and the students will embrace the novelty of a 1 p.m. start and bring a great atmosphere to the Tip-Off Marathon’s lead-off game on ESPN.”
The Flyers return four starters, juniors Scoochie Smith, Kyle Davis and Kendall Pollard along with senior Dyshawn Pierre, who went 27-9 last year and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
Alabama went 19-15 last season and reached the second round of the National Invitation Tournament. The Crimson Tide will be under the direction of first-year head coach Avery Johnson, coaching at the college level for the first time after nearly a quarter century in the NBA as a player and coach. Johnson replaces Anthony Grant, who played at Dayton from 1983-87 and spent six years at Alabama before being relieved of his duties after last season.
Two other Atlantic 10 teams, George Washington and Rhode Island, will host games during the marathon. GW will host Virginia in the second game at approximately 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16, while Rhode Island will play Valparaiso at 10 a.m. Nov. 17. Both of those games will air on ESPN2.