March Madness for Dayton opens against Nevada, in Utah

Pictured is the UD Arena. Photo courtesy of Keegan Gupta for Flyer News.

Gabriel Ward | Contributing Writer

DAYTON, Ohio – The Dayton Flyers (24-7, 14-4) knew they would be in the 2024 NCAA Men’s Division I tournament; the only questions were who they would play and where they would play. Those questions were answered late into Selection Sunday when the Flyers were matched up against the Nevada Wolf Pack (26-7, 13-5) of the Mountain West Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The connections between these two programs are not subtle. According to Nevada Sports Net, this will be a “rematch of a game that never happened. The Wolf Pack and Flyers were supposed to play at Lawlor Events Center on Dec. 6, 2020, as part of the inaugural MW-A10 Challenge Series. That game was canceled because of COVID and the MW-A10 Challenge Series never happened.” 

Along with the recently canceled matchup, Nevada’s season ended in Dayton last season when they fell in the First Four to Arizona State, 98-73.

The Flyers are led by Naismith Player of the Year Semifinalist DaRon Holmes II, who averages 20.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. The Flyers also rely on the three-point shot, as they are the third-best three-point team in the country by percentage at 40.2% and the 19th-best by makes per game at 9.5 makes per game, according to Team Rankings.

The Wolf Pack are led by their guard play, as Jarod Lucas and Kenan Blackshear were both named to the MWC All-Conference Second Team. Lucas averages 17.8 points and 2.5 assists per game, while Blackshear averages 15.1 points and 4.9 assists per game.

The seven seed is familiar territory to the Flyers, as they have been one twice before, both on their two most recent trips to the NCAA Tournament. On both of those occasions, the Flyers fell in the first round. If Dayton wants a different result this season, the Flyers will have to continue to shoot the three-ball well. 

The tournament experience is something that is bound to play a factor in this matchup. Nevada got a taste of it last year in their short appearance, andplayers admitted they were a bit overwhelmed by the NCAA experience last year and are better-prepared now to deal with the frenetic atmosphere,” according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

The Wolf Pack are favored, although it is essentially a coinflip as they are listed as a 1.5-point favorite according to ESPN Bet, but the Flyers are given a 58.3% chance to win according to ESPN Analytics

The stage is set for a highly anticipated first-round matchup, with the winner moving on to play on Saturday against No. 15-seed Long Beach State and the second-seeded Arizona Wildcats. 

Date: Thursday, March 21

Time: 4:30 p.m. Eastern (2:30 p.m. Mountain)

Where: Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah

TV Channel: TBS

For more UD sports reporting from Flyer News, check out our sports page here!

Flyer News: Univ. of Dayton's Student Newspaper