Dayton vs VCU Odds, Prediction: Can Flyers Win A-10 Title?
Mike Stobe/Getty Images. Pictured: Malachi Smith (11) of the Dayton Flyers.
Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship
Dayton vs VCU Odds
-115o / -105u
-115o / -105u
Who do you trust more: The better team, or the team with more talented individual players?
To fans of the Duke Blue Devils, Texas A&M Aggies or San Diego State Aztecs — congratulations on a great finish to your season. But, what's the reward for your team after an impressive late-season run?
The answer may be: A No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, possibly resulting in a first-round matchup against a capable and hungry dog such as Oral Roberts, Drake … or even the champion of this A10 finale between VCU and Dayton.
Here's my breakdown for the last Atlantic 10 head-to-head matchup of the season:
The Flyers have done just enough to get past Saint Joseph's and Fordham to earn an opportunity to secure an NCAA automatic bid by besting VCU in their third matchup this season.
Dayton's chance to earn an at-large bid expired in late January. The Flyers suffered three losses in as many road games to mediocre A10 opponents George Washington, Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure in succession.
With its proverbial back against the wall, Dayton has still given itself a chance to be part of the field of 68 by winning just one more game.
The rhetorical question that served as this article's opener hinted that this A10 final would present an opportunity for bettors to choose: Would you prefer to wager on a more well-rounded team, or on more talented individuals?
If you are more inclined to trust a roster of gifted athletes capable of overcoming a potential coaching disadvantage, I will present the case for Dayton.
Daron Holmes and Toumani Camara may be the two best players in their respective conference. It just so happens they play for the same team.
What's even crazier is the fact that neither Holmes nor Camara have the highest ceiling of any player on Dayton's roster. Despite battling injury throughout the season, Malachi Smith has the ability to raise the Flyers' level higher than anyone — this despite his slight 5-foot-11 stature.
Dayton's road losing streak in January coincided with Malachi Smith's initial return to Dayton's rotation. Since, the Flyers have lost only twice — both times by a margin of five or fewer points — to respectable teams in George Mason and Saint Louis.
Camara has played with determination to drag his team by any means necessary to this A10 title game. He tallied 17 points and 18 boards in the quarterfinal against Saint Joe's; Camara followed-up that performance with 28 points and seven rebounds against Fordham on Saturday.
Meanwhile, teammate Daron Holmes has not been held to a single-digit scoring night in his last 11 games. The raw talent and natural scoring ability of Dayton certainly gives them an advantage over VCU on paper.
VCU's semifinal triumph over Yuri Collins and Saint Louis leaves no gray area in determining which of those two teams is better. Ace Baldwin and Mike Rhoades own the Billikens in the same way that Clemson owns NC State or Iowa State owns Baylor in 2022-23.
Unfortunately for VCU, its domination of Saint Louis earns it nothing. The Rams' ultimate goal is to justify their A10 regular season title by winning an accompanying A10 Tournament championship at the Barclays Center on Sunday. The Rams can do just that by winning a rubber match against Dayton.
Some argue that the Rams were lucky to earn a season split with the Flyers. Each team was victorious as a visitor on its opponent's home court. I do not necessarily agree with the luck aspect of the preceding statement, but I do acknowledge Dayton's collapse at home was a bit fluky.
VCU head coach Mike Rhoades has earned more trust than Dayton's Anthony Grant. VCU winning the A10 by a three-game margin despite lacking the on-paper talent of Saint Louis, Dayton and others throughout the league is as impressive as Wisconsin beating Kentucky in 2015.
VCU is able to overcome its lack of talent by way of coaching and by playing a specific brand of basketball that enables every player to identify his own specific role. Moreover, the leadership of Ace Baldwin provides VCU a safety net when things start spiraling.
If your betting personality aligns more closely with trusting coaching and unselfishness versus individual talent, the Rams are the team for you.
Dayton vs VCU Betting Pick
Against my better judgment, I will stick with my pick from my A10 preview and trust Dayton's talent to win out. The loss Dayton suffered to VCU at home was a game that the Flyers controlled throughout but lost late when VCU's pressure sped up Dayton's guards, leading to turnovers.
Dayton's win at VCU after that loss was a strong indication that the Flyers are simply a better team. The 62-58 final score in Dayton's victory proved it could slow VCU into playing at the Dayton's desired tempo.
If Anthony Grant can keep his metaphorical fingers out of the punch bowl, Dayton should be able to cash those A10 futures tickets and punch their ticket as a likely NCAA Tournament No. 12 seed.
I recommend backing Dayton to cover +2.5, and I would also be interested in taking the Flyers' moneyline at +115 or better.
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