When 11th seeded Dayton beat 6th seeded Ohio State in Buffalo on Thursday, Syracuse's tournament schedule did not get any easier. In some ways the offensively challenged Ohio State team may have been the better matchup for SU. Dayton is a better three point shooting team and have won 11 of their last 13 games.
Flyers guard Jordan Sibert will draw a lot of attention from the Syracuse zone defense. Sibert shot 43% from behind the three point line and is one of the purest shooters in college basketball. Sophomore guard Dyshawn Pierre and forward Devin Oliver also shot a respectable 39% from deep this season. Dayton generally likes to play with a smaller, quicker three guard lineup with players rotating in and out quickly. Senior guard Vee Sanford comes off the bench but was fourth on the team in scoring at 9.9 points per game.
6-10 senor center Matt Kavanaugh could make things difficult for SU. Kavanaugh isn't very athletic but plays smart around the basket. If SU plays him too aggressively, Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita could collect some quick fouls. If they play off of him, Kavanaugh's short jumpers and baby hooks could give the Flyers some easy points in the paint.
On Wednesday, Dayton had a lot of success driving into the lane and finishing close to the basket. Syracuse's zone should make that game plan more difficult, especially if the Orange cut off passing lanes like they did against Western Michigan. Dayton is not a particularly good rebounding team which should also benefit Syracuse.
Names to watch for:
Devin Oliver - The senior forward is Dayton's best rebounder and can do a bit of everything. He's very comfortable shooting the ball from the free throw line and had 29 steals in the regular season.
Dyshawn Pierre - Pierre can get his shot off quickly and had no trouble with the size and speed of Ohio State. If he gets a few open looks early in the game, Syracuse could be in trouble.
Jalen Robinson - The 6-9 sophomore forward played limited minutes in the regular season but may be called on to help defend C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant. Robinson is still a little raw but led the team in blocked shots despite playing less than 13 minutes a game.