Hey Dayton, it’s time to Jam

By Scott Halasz Staff Writer (Please use Column Box)

March 15, 2014

I have always defended the University of Dayton’s decision to not play Wright State in men’s basketball.

But after attending Tuesday’s Horizon League title game with 7,700 other hoops junkies, I have changed my mind. The atmosphere reminded me of the eight-game series, of which UD won five. It brought back fond memories.

It’s time the University of Dayton gets the Raiders back on the schedule.

Next year. Every year. No reason not to.

I have always heard there are two main excuses for Dayton to not play WSU.

First, the Flyers need to schedule tough competition to keep their Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) and strength of schedule above some imaginary threshold, like a Mason-Dixon line, so the NCAA Tournament selection committee won’t forget about them.

Secondly, Dayton doesn’t want to give away too many home games because of revenue issues.

OK, I get the second part of that equation. At a school like Dayton, I’m sure the men’s basketball team helps support the non-revenue sports. There are lots of Dayton alumni out there with deep pockets, though. I’m sure they will dig a little to help offset the cost of Dayton playing one game at the Nutter Center every other year.

But Reason no. 1 just grinds my gears. Have you seen some of Dayton’s non-conference, home opponents this season?

The Flyers played the St. Francis Sisters (PA and NY) whose RPI’s are 304 and 190 respectively. Blech.

They played Delaware State (331), Central Michigan (292), Southern California (172) and Winthrop (176). All currently have a worse RPI than Wright State’s 165. Yikes.

Oh yeah, did I mention Dayton LOST to USC, which is 10-21? The Flyers also lost at Illinois State (136) which is 15-15 and beat Murray State (145) which is only 16-11. Yawn.

Now, one can never predict how good or bad a team will be when the game is scheduled, and RPIs do fluctuate some during the season. But I’m fairly certain it’s safe to to say a team like Winthrop, even though it makes its share of NCAA’s, will rarely, if ever, be a top-150 RPI team.

And considering WSU has made back-to-back conference title games, adding the Raiders to a schedule will, at worst, be a lateral move. My guess is that dropping a directional Michigan school and adding a team from the Wright state (see what I did there?), it will improve a team’s schedule.

It’ll put fans in the seats too. Delaware State drew 11,571. I’m no math whiz, but I would be willing to bet that a game against Wright State would fill UD Arena.

Some more numbers to crunch:

• Since the 2000-01 season, each team has one conference championship. Dayton has been to three NCAA Tournaments compared to one for WSU.

• WSU has nine winning seasons, UD has 12.

• WSU has six 20-win seasons, Dayton has 10.

I realize they play in different conferences and Dayton’s Atlantic-10 schedule is probably tougher than the HL, but wins are wins.

A Gem City Jam revival will be a win-win.

Wright State to play East Carolina in CIT

FAIRBORN — The Wright State men’s basketball team will play at East Carolina in the first round of the CollegeInsiders.com Tournament (CIT) at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 18. WSU advanced to the semi-finals of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) tournament last year.

This will be the Raiders’ fourth appearance overall in an NCAA Division I tournament since moving up to the D-I ranks beginning with the 1987-‘88 season. Wright State previously played in the 1993 and 2007 NCAA Tournaments. This will be the first matchup between the two schools.

Wright State (20-14, 10-6 Horizon League) is coming off Tuesday’s 69-63 loss at home to Milwaukee in the Horizon League championship game.