How the Dayton Flyers Can Make the NCAA Final Four

Jeremy DawsonContributor IIIMarch 27, 2014

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 22:  Devin Oliver #5 of the Dayton Flyers reacts after defeating the Syracuse Orange 55-53 in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the First Niagara Center on March 22, 2014 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

“THE University of Dayton” has been this year’s Cinderella story. When the tournament began, everyone was excited for Warren Buffett’s Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge. It was simple really: Just guess every game right, and you get a billion dollars.

The first game to pick was a fairly easy one. You had the No. 11 seed Dayton Flyers up against the No. 6 seed Ohio State Buckeyes. Well, Warren Buffett can thank Dayton because it, almost single-handedly, saved him a billion dollars. A total of 83.6 percent of Yahoo's billion-dollar brackets were busted off of Ohio State losing in a major upset against the unknown A-10 Conference Flyers.

OK, so winning a billion dollars is not as simple as “guess every game right.” Predicting every game correctly is actually as close to impossible as anything can get. The odds of creating a perfect bracket at random are approximately one in 9.2 quintillion; that is one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to be exact.

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Now, people initially looked at this as simply a bad game for the Buckeyes and a great win for the Flyers—and not that either of those statements are false—but in the next round we would come to find that these Flyers are more than a fairy tale.

Dayton’s next opponent was the No. 3 seed Syracuse Orange. Syracuse was coming off of a nice 24-point win in the first round and planned to continue its mauling of opponents with the Flyers. But the Flyers would not allow that and pulled off an even greater upset with a two-point victory over Syracuse.

The Dayton Flyers came into this tournament under the radar, but now they are in the spotlight. After taking a second glance at their schedule, I am not sure how we all missed on these guys. When the competition has shown up against the Flyers, so have they. Dayton played three Top 25 teams this season—It beat Gonzaga 84-79, defeated Saint Louis 72-67 and played Baylor, who it lost to but only by a score of 67-66.

The majority of Dayton’s production has been on the defensive end of the court. The Flyers held Ohio State and Syracuse to a combined 3-of-22 from the three-point line, which is 13.64 percent. Also, Syracuse averages 12 assists per game on the season, but the entire team only combined for four against Dayton.

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 22:  Devin Oliver #5 of the Dayton Flyers reacts after defeating the Syracuse Orange 55-53 in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the First Niagara Center on March 22, 2014 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by E
Elsa/Getty Images

After defeating Syracuse, Dayton really felt a sense of accomplishment. From tweets the Flyers received from President Barack Obama to their school president crowd surfing with the Dayton students and fans, it was a special moment for a special program. Senior forward Devin Oliver said during an interview with Jim Rome:

Our school president is an incredible guy, incredible person, good president. Just to see him enjoying the moment along with the students kind of puts into perspective what this run means to this community and most importantly this campus.


Congrats to the @DaytonFlyers on a huge upset win! Devin Oliver, I may need to take you up on that pick-up game one of these days. -bo

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 23, 2014


The Dayton Flyers have now reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984. On top of ending the 30-year drought, the No. 11 seed takes on the No. 10 seed in Stanford for a chance to make it to the Elite Eight.

Dayton and elite may be two words we are saying in the same sentence very often and very soon. Dayton is once again slated as the first game in the next round. The game is set to tip off at 7:15 p.m. ET on Thursday. With Stanford's top scorer, Chasson Randle, averaging nearly 40 percent from the three-point line, perimeter defense may be the difference for the Flyers once again.

Many consider No. 1 seed Florida to be the favorites to win the national championship, and it happens to be in the South Region along with Dayton. If the Gators get past UCLA, they could meet the Flyers in the Elite Eight.

Dayton could upset its way all the way into the Final Four. The Florida Gators may only have two losses on the season, but one of those losses was to Wisconsin; Wisconsin lost to Ohio State and Ohio State lost to Dayton. Maybe that is a reach on connecting the dots, but I do not see a single unbeatable team in this tournament. 

Moral of the story is that this tournament is any team’s game. If you guys are looking for a Cinderella story, it may be time to pull out your glass slippers, because the shoe fits on the Dayton Flyers.

I bet a lot of people have given up on us. Not us, not this year, not my SENIOR year. HELL NO. Watch this...

— Devin Oliver (@Oliver_NoTwist5) January 27, 2014