Busting Brackets

Dayton vs Nevada: 2023-24 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

On Thursday, No. 7 Dayton and No. 10 Nevada face off in the West region. Which team has the edge in this matchup?
Colorado State v Virginia
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The NCAA Tournament is here, which means it's time to finalize your brackets before they lock at noon on Thursday and the madness officially begins. With the stage set, college basketball fans should start thinking about the potential upsets in the opening rounds, the Cinderella stories to look out for, and the locks to make a deep run in March Madness. The key for each team is to survive and advance; the field of 68 is wide open, which means any team can win on any night against any opponent. Let's break down one of the best matchups of the Round of 64 between the seventh-seeded Dayton Flyers and the tenth-seeded Nevada Wolfpack of the West region of the bracket.

TV schedule: Thursday, March 21, 4:30 p.m. EST TBS
Arena: Delta Center in Salt Lake City, UT

After a shocking quarterfinal loss to the eventual Atlantic 10 tournament Champion Duquesne Dukes, the Dayton Flyers earned an at-large bid to the Bid Dance. Despite finishing second in the conference standings behind Richmond and Loyola Chicago, the Flyers finished 24-6. They were the only A-10 team to make the AP Top 25 poll throughout the regular season, ending the year as the 24th-best team. Dayton is led by Atlantic 10 Co-Player and Defensive Player of the Year Daron Holmes II, who averaged 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 54.5 percent during the regular season. If the Flyers advance to the second round, Holmes II will be a significant reason why.

On the flip side, the Nevada Wolfpack enter the tournament as one of six Mountain West schools to earn a bid. Nevada finished second in the MWC this season with a 26-7 record behind Utah State. Despite getting upset by Colorado State in the quarterfinals of the MWC tournament as the second seed, Nevada would end their conference slate with ten wins in their last 11 regular season games. The Wolfpack were led by Mountain West Second-Team selections Kenan Blackshear, who averaged 15.1 points, 4.9 assists, 4.9 rebounds per game, and Jarod Lucas, who averaged 17.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and shot 39.7% from three-point range. What stands out the most about Nevada is its balance, as it ranks within the top 40 in KenPom's adjusted offense and defense efficiency.

The seventh-seed vs. tenth-seed matchups in March Madness are always the ones college basketball fans lose sleep over because they can really go either way and in this situation, it could not be more unpredictable. Both teams were strong during the regular season; however, they did not outright win their league, and when it came to the conference tournament, both schools were upset in the quarterfinals. Most sportsbooks favor Nevada to win with the spread set at 1.5, but with Dayton's disciplined defense and elite scoring from Holmes II, it's tough to pick against them; however, I believe it will be a close game.

Dayton sends opponents to the charity stripe fewer than 13 times an outing, which means the Wolfpack could miss out on many opportunities as a team that shoots 72.1 percent from the free-throw line. Despite their efficient scoring from their backcourt consisting of Blackshear and Lucas, Nevada struggles to protect the paint, allowing opponents to finish at the rim and post-up at an average of 1.17 and 0.82 points per play.

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With Dayton's size and ability to score from anywhere, I like their chances more and believe they have a slight advantage in this one.

Prediction: No. 7 Dayton 77, No. 10 Nevada 73