In a highly anticipated matchup between two of the Atlantic 10’s marquee programs, Dayton ultimately proved to be in a class of its own as the Flyers topped VCU, 79-65. The win put Dayton back into a tie for first in the A-10 with Duquesne at 4-0, while VCU dropped its second straight game to fall to 2-2 in league play.
Here are the key takeaways moving forward.
Dayton has a gear that no other A-10 team has
It’s not a grand revelation to say that Dayton is the A-10’s best team. However, against a VCU team that is among the best teams in the conference, the Flyers showed that they can take it up a notch that nobody else in the A-10 can match. Here’s the game, summarized in a single tweet:
Dayton led by three at the half, but a 22-0 run early in the second half essentially put this one away by the under-12 media timeout. During the run, the Flyers connected on 10 consecutive shots against a VCU defense that has the best defensive efficiency rating in the A-10, per KenPom. The run was just another example of how potent Dayton’s offense can be when it’s firing on all cylinders.
Even despite a poor shooting night from three-point range (7-21) and a season-high 20 turnovers, Dayton still managed to log 1.11 points per possession, which is the worst mark for VCU’s defense this season. The Flyers’ dominance in the paint remains unmatched in the conference and nationally. Dayton is connecting on over 62 percent of its two-point attempts for the season, which ranks 4.9 percentage points higher than the No. 2 team (Loyola University Chicago).
Even on a night that Dayton was not at peak form, it still showed that its good is better than most teams’ best.
VCU has some work to do
If there was an overarching theme that applied to VCU’s season to date, it would be missed opportunities. Last night was another one.
The loss to Dayton was VCU’s third Quadrant I loss of the season, dropping the Rams’ record in Q1 games to 1-3 with the lone win against LSU just barely sneaking in. As the losses in the most important games pile up, VCU’s tournament resume continues to take a hit.
Per T-Ranketology, VCU is currently the last at-large team in the field as of this morning’s projections with a 38 percent chance of receiving an at-large bid. Had the Rams won last night, that chance would be at 68.4 percent. Right now, VCU’s team sheet looks like one that is firmly on the early bubble.
There aren’t any bad losses, but it’s lacking in the quality win category. Right now, there are four Quadrant I and II games apiece left on the schedule, so a bevy of opportunities remain. The onus is on VCU to actually take advantage of those games and add some heft to its resume.
Within the scope of the Atlantic 10 season, the Rams fell to seventh place in the standings. That would place them outside of the top four, which would result in missing out on the coveted double-bye in the A-10 Tournament. It’s obviously still early in the conference season, and VCU is projected as the favorite in its next four games, but the depth of the A-10 this season could have as many as seven or eight teams all battling for that double-bye spot and every game counts.
A hobbled Obi Toppin is still among the nation’s best players
In the lead up to the game, there were some questions around whether Obi Toppin would actually play. The star sophomore had been nursing a sprained ankle, but he wound up playing on it and put on a show in the process.
Toppin turned in his eighth 20-point performance of the season — nine of which came during the aforementioned 22-0 run — as he finished with a game-high 24 points. As always, the Flyers’ star big man put on a show.
Momentum boost from yours truly. pic.twitter.com/Ss9pLCnOpt— Dayton Basketball (@DaytonMBB) January 15, 2020
THIS is how you close out a win. pic.twitter.com/16pccJDgpF— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) January 15, 2020
His performance would go on to land him a spot on Scott Van Pelt’s SportsCenter show on Tuesday night.
Another highlight reel performance from Toppin keeps his name in the mix for a National Player of the Year race that is as wide open as it’s been in recent memory.