With realignment over the past few years we've lost some great rivalries. One of those rivalries is a former Atlantic 10 showdown between Xavier and Dayton. The intrastate rivalry has been missing since Xavier went to the Big East three years ago and there is really nothing on the slate moving forward to mend the rivalry.
The Advocare Invitational presented us with a rare opportunity Sunday night as #23 Xavier matched up with their former rivals the Dayton Flyers in Orlando. The rivalry certainly didn't seem to lose anything despite being played so far away from home.
Archie Miller's Flyers made it to the finals with perfect 5-0 record on the year after narrowly defeating both Iowa and upstart Monmouth earlier in the tournament. Xavier, also sporting a perfect mark at 6-0, bolted to the finals after double-digit victories against Alabama and Southern California.
Unfortunately for college hoops fans the pregame hype for this tournament final did not match the game itself. It seemed like a "no loved lost" type of match up in the beginning but the first half was quickly marred by Karl Hess' whistle and it became a bit of a rock fight.
Dayton looked like they could possibly make a run as they went into halftime down 43-35 in a half that the Musketeers more or less dominated. If the Flyers could just lock down a bit and get someone like Charles Cooke going from beyond the arc then this could have quickly become a game.
Instead Xavier stepped on the Flyers throats and coasted to a 90-61 tournament title in Disney World. All five of the Musketeers' starting five finished in double-figures, lead by Edmond Sumner with 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Scoochie Smith would finish with the best statline for the Flyers with 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists, unfortunately he didn't get much help from anyone beyond Kendall Pollard who finished with a game high 15 points.
The trip to Orlando has to be a bittersweet one for the Flyers. Dayton got a win over Iowa as a resume bullet but the way the final ended has to leave a bittersweet taste in Archie Miller's mouth. Dayton also missed a chance at another Power 5 win when Monmouth upset #17 Notre Dame on Thursday. The Monmouth certainly won't hurt the Flyers but a win over the nationally ranked Irish would have boosted the Flyers at-large resume a bit more.
Dayton will be out of action until next Saturday when they face quality mid-major program North Florida. The Flyers will then travel to Nashville to take on #19 Vanderbilt on December 9. That match up with the Commodores will be Dayton's last chance to have an impactful, resume building non-conference victory.