By the time Friday technically ended, at midnight, every single higher-seeded team that played earlier in the day/evening had won. Fifteen up, 15 down, all the better seeds broke through to the Round of 32. One game remained though, and as Saturday came at the strike of 12 o’clock, Dayton was pulling away from Providence in the East region’s 6/11 matchup. With that, Providence’s performance prevented the unprecedented: a full-on sweep by all 16 higher seeds.
The Flyers won over the Friars in Columbus, 66-53, sending PC home on the first Friday of the NCAA Tournament game for the second straight season.
For the Flyers, it’s their second straight season as a No. 11 seed in this bracket, and it’s another year where they’re breaking through. Archie Miller’s guys made the Elite Eight in 2014, and now they’ve already won two games and will play No. 3 Oklahoma on Sunday evening in Ohio.
But there’s plenty of debate still buzzing about this game, about Dayton, about the NCAA selection committee and what it’s done here. It’s not been ideal, to say the least. And little of this is Dayton’s fault; it just happens to be stuck in the middle of a botched seeding and bracket arrangement.
First, the issue of Dayton, the number placed next to it and where on the grid the selection committee plopped the Flyers. Although bracket projections from so many prognosticators had the Flyers as a eight seed, a nine at worst, UD was somehow given an 11. And from there we’ve had the domino effect. Because Dayton was the last team put into the field, it was placed into the First Four. Dayton’s home arena has been the site of the First Four for its entire existence.
So Boise State is gifted a road game in the First Four on Wednesday night, then goes on to lose by one point when a no-call prevents BSU from taking three foul shots as time expires. Some controversy, but we move on.
Prior to this, the committee opted to put the winner of BSU/Dayton in Columbus, just a short drive away from Dayton. So the chain reaction continued on Friday as the higher-seeded Friars unfairly were pitted against a better-than-11-seed group who happens to be getting all the geographical breaks.
And because the schedule clogged, this game didn’t even tip until 11 p.m.
Dayton deserved to win the game, but Providence didn’t catch any breaks here. Star point guard Kris Dunn was assessed an egregious flagrant 1 foul within the first 45 seconds of the game, and then quickly picked up his second foul shortly thereafter. Dayton took 30 fouls shots on Friday night. Providence attempted seven.
The game definitively turned in Dayton’s favor for good when PC coach Ed Cooley picked up a technical foul during a TV timeout with 3:42 remaining. His team trailing by eight, Cooley tossed his chair to the side while addressing his huddle.
Here’s what spurred one official to T Cooley up.
Here is what the head of officials, John Adams, said via statement early Saturday morning.
Here’s the official explanation on technical foul called on Providence coach Ed Cooley for chair incident: pic.twitter.com/G33AREL6Bt
— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) March 21, 2015
Dayton’s win keeps an unlikely streak alive: For the past five years, since the First Four started, a team has won at least one additional game after winning in Dayton.
This turn of events wound up being for the better for the Flyers and their fans. Dayton deserved to win, but the NCAA should have attempted to not put that team in this position to begin with.
Dayton deserved better than an 11 seed, and Providence deserved better than to play a neutral game that was as close to a road environment as could be. Now the Friars head back to Rhode Island while the Flyers continue to cruise all too close to their own home.