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Dayton upsets Kansas to spearhead banner Black Friday for A-10

Three A-10 teams made their presence known on the ESPN family of networks

NCAA Basketball: ESPN Events Invitational-Kansas vs Dayton Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

Bump up those conference metrics!!! What a day for the Atlantic 10.

It all started in Orlando, as Dayton faced off against No. 4 Kansas in the ESPN Events Invitational Semifinal. Las Vegas had the Flyers as +1100 underdogs, and it honestly made sense.

Dayton was fresh off its biggest victory of the season, against an iffy Miami team. Before that, they lost three consecutive buy games against the likes of UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay. The three teams' KenPom ranking averages out to 233, even with Dayton’s results in Orlando.

Struggles began early for the Flyers as they fell to an 11-1 deficit at the first tv timeout. It would only get worse, as they fell down 15 right before the break. Luckily, for Dayton, it ended the half on a 6-1 run, cutting the deficit back to 10 at halftime.

Dayton then opened the second half on a 12-4 run to tie the game up out of the first media timeout with a Daron Holmes II 3-pter. This was when the Dayton fans began to take over a neutral court arena, again.

In November of 2019, Dayton and Kansas played in one of the all-time great preseason tournament games ever as they met in the Maui Invitational final. The Jayhawks got the best of the Flyers in overtime, 90-84, but that was the moment when America found out that those Dayton Flyers were for real.

Dayton finished that season with a 29-2 record, and as we all know, the season came to a sad end as COVID-19 canceled the NCAA Tournament. Now, the Flyers are out for revenge.

After trailing by no more than two points for the next five minutes of this season's game, Dayton went on an 11-2 run, taking a 68-61 lead with 7:23 remaining. Things intensified from there.

Kansas answered with a 12-2 run, taking a 73-70 lead with a minute remaining. Nothing was falling for the Flyers.

Malachi Smith scored his 10th point on the evening for the Flyers with 45 seconds left to cut the Kansas lead to one. On the Flyers’ next possession, Smith drove the lane and got blocked by David McCormack. Mustapha Amzil then took the ball from there, and he made magic happen as his putback attempt bounced in at the buzzer to give the Flyers the 74-73 victory. Dayton won its first game against a top-5 team since 1984.

Tipping off at the same time on another ESPN network, VCU faced off against No. 23 UConn in the Battle 4 Atlantis third-place game.

Just like Dayton, VCU had not had the best start to the season. The Rams lost buy games to both Wagner and UT Chattanooga at one of the toughest places for opponents to play in the country, the Siegel Center. Now both teams are projected to finish towards the top of their respective conferences, but those are still games that a tournament team from last season should win.

Friday’s game was sloppy. Neither team led by more than eight points, as the teams combined for 42 made field goals, shooting a combined 26.67% from three on a combined 45 fouls.

VCU led throughout the first half but allowed a 6-0 UConn run to end it to cut the lead to two at the break.

UConn took its first lead of the game two and a half minutes into the half with a three from former Howard star RJ Cole. Both teams traded punches, but Isaiah Whaley hit a three-pointer with 1:05 remaining to tie the game up at 56. Neither team could capitalize from there, forcing overtime.

UConn doubled up VCU in the extra frame and won 70-63, but Rams fans should be excited with the week's results. After a rough first couple of weeks, VCU came into a neutral site and beat Syracuse, battled national champion Baylor and took a ranked UConn team to overtime.

If you look at the schedule, the Rams should win their next six games before A-10 play, which would get them to 9-4.

To end a stellar Friday night for the A-10, Saint Joes faced 2021 Big East Tournament champion Georgetown in the consolation game of the Paycom Wooden Legacy.

The Hawks led from the opening tip and never looked back, built the lead up to as many as 13 en route to a 77-74 victory.

Billy Lange’s Hawks were led by Taylor Funk who scored 29 points on the game, missing just two shots.

Saint Joe’s, who is back to .500 on the season, was yet another team in the A-10 who had a rough start. The Hawks lost to Drexel and Monmouth and only beat UMES by two.

Although Georgetown may be down this season, any win over that historic brand is huge. The Hoyas were coming off of a Big East Tournament title, so they have put it together.

If anything was proven by Friday’s performances, it was that the A-10 is on an upward trajectory after a rough first two weeks. The league has a chance to build on its resume some more over the weekend as Dayton, La Salle, Richmond, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, and UMass all play big games. Friday could only be the start of MAYHEM throughout the league.