19. Dayton Flyers
2021-22 season record: 24-11 (14-4 in Atlantic 10)
No team had as little experience in terms of playing in NCAA Basketball as the Flyers, whose entire roster was either true or covid-year freshmen outside of a couple of players. And it looked that way early on, losing three straight home games to Quad 4 competition. But yet, they completely rebuilt themselves, and had it not been that awful loss to La Salle late in the season, this team would’ve made the NCAA Tournament.
And basically, everyone of importance for Dayton is coming back next season, led by the star duo of Malachi Smith and Da’Ron Holmes. The point guard Smith has 6th in the A-10 with 5.3, while the big man Holmes led the team with 12.8 ppg, along with over two blocks a game. With Osun Osunniyi gone, look for the Flyers to have the best big man in the conference now.
Other key contributors set to return are starting forward and leading rebounder Toumani Camara (10.9 ppg and 6.9 rpg), as well as guards Koby Brea, Kobe Elvis, and R.J. Blakeney. This is a unit that was ranked in the top-20 in scoring defense, while also solid shooting the ball.
Assuming all of these freshmen take a leap and guys like Holmes and Smith have breakout sophomore campaigns, the Flyers will be in the top-20 next year… just as long as they start the season out right.