Miami (Oh.) at Dayton
U. of Dayton Arena - Dayton, OH
7:00 PM EST
"Super" Tuesdays are tough for finding games during January and February. It's the in-between night when the power conferences hog all the TV time as well as the good officials, and a number of mid-major leagues have been wise to avoid running out full slates as a result. There's a half-calendar in the Valley this evening, but there's no denying the power of this noncon "Miami Valley Conference" tilt against the best of the MAC and an A-14 team looking for a return to Big Dance glory.
The visiting RedHawks (7-4) represent the only team from the Mid-American Conference to make any national noise whatsoever, and do own the No. 9 RPI in the country, whatever that's worth. Most of the plaudits came after a near-miss
out at UCLA during the first week, when there were no other games on, and a resounding win at Temple
happened to come right before the Owls knocked off Tennessee. Miami will grind it out defensively all day and night, but it's been the 3-point shooting (and former MMBOW Michael Bramos
) that's made this edition special. The new arc hasn't fazed the RedHawk shooters, who are second in the country with a 42.9 percent average. But questions look: senior point guard Kenny Hayes
is out indefinitely
with a bad wrist, and Miami was spanked at West Virginia
before Christmas without his full services. After a quick in-season return trip to Northwestern State during which they eked out a one-point win
, there's been a week off to contemplate the future.
And Dayton. The Flyers are the worst-shooting 13-1 team you're likely to find, but it hasn't been a schedule full of inferior opponents that's brought them to this point with such an impressive record. Dayton has beaten such big-name opponents as Auburn and Marquette on the strength of stranglingly good defense -- only 35 percent of opponents' shots have fallen. There's no lack of energy there, since Brian Gregory has nine players averaging double-figure minutes. But the star of the show is Chris Wright
, a 6-8 sophomore two-point dunk shot specialist who will likely be a pro millionaire someday. Dayton has also won six of the last eight meetings in this venerable annual series.Basketball State Preview/Box