There was no conference tournament for the Dayton Flyers, no Selection Sunday, no NCAA tournament, no basketball period after March 12, the day the sports world was silenced by COVID-19.
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There is no way to tell, of course, whether Dayton might have found itself playing for the national championship Monday night when the game would have been played. UD faced long odds of winning six games in a row, but the same could be said for almost every team entering the tournament. There was no overwhelming favorite — other than maybe Kansas.
According to BetFirm.com, third-ranked Dayton (29-2) had a 5.1 percent chance of winning the national title, and those were the third-best odds. Kansas had an 8 percent chance. Gonzaga had a 7 percent chance.
The same wide-open tournament picture meant Dayton had a real shot. Here are four reasons the Flyers could have won:
1. They had the best player: Obi Toppin won the Naismith Trophy on Friday and could complete a sweep of the top national awards Tuesday when the Wooden Award is announced. Toppin rose to the occasion at every opportunity and had a flair for the dramatic. His three-dunk sequence in the second half in the final game on Senior Night proved to be his final show.
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The NCAA tournament would have given Toppin his greatest stage. He leaves the college as the most honored UD player in history but without playing a single game in the big dance.
2. They had a coach on top of his game: Anthony Grant has matched Toppin by winning award after award. This would have been the third program he has coached in the NCAA tournament, and this was by far the best of the 12 teams he has coached at Virginia Commonwealth, Alabama and Dayton.
3. They had momentum: Dayton was a big favorite entering the A-10 tournament because it delivered three of its best performances in the last three games, routing Davidson, Rhode Island and George Washington by a total of 67 points. Only the Colonials kept it close for a half, and they ended up losing 76-51 on Senior Night at UD Arena.
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4. They would have stayed close to home in the early rounds: Dayton almost assuredly would have played in Cleveland in the first and second rounds and then may have moved onto Indianapolis if it had earned a No. 1 seed.
Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team would have likely been the top overall seed, said he would have chosen to play in the South Region in Houston. If Gonzaga was the No. 2 seed and chose to play in the West Region in Los Angeles, Dayton might have had the next choice and gotten to choose the Midwest Region, meaning its four games on the road to the Final Four in Atlanta would have been played within a three-hour drive of UD Arena.
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