Pac-12 Game of the Week: Colorado vs. Dayton

Posted by KDanna on November 15th, 2012

The non-conference tournaments get under way in earnest this week, and our Pac-12 microsite game of the week takes us to South Carolina for the Charleston Classic, where Colorado will play Dayton in a first round game Thursday afternoon.

Why It’s Important: Get used to this phrase for the next couple of moments, but this is the ultimate RPI boost game for Colorado. Take a look at the bracket for this tournament: If Colorado wins, it will most likely face some two-game combination of Baylor, St. John’s and Murray State. If Colorado loses, then likely dates with Boston College, Charleston and Auburn are on the ledger. Notice the difference in level of competition? Again, the Pac-12, more than any conference, needs as many opportunities to play high-RPI teams as it can get. Going 1-2 in Charleston with a win over Dayton and losses to Baylor and either St. John’s or Murray State is a whole lot better than going 2-1 with a loss to Dayton and wins over Boston College and Charleston or Auburn. Last year, the Buffaloes went 1-2 in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, but that win didn’t come until the seventh place game in which they beat Western Michigan after losing to Wichita State and Maryland.

Colorado Player to Watch- André Roberson: An obvious choice, but maybe not for a reason that would be considered obvious going into the season. The only player to average a double-double in the Pac-12 last year, Roberson struggled in the season-opening victory against Wofford, scoring just seven points to go along with six rebounds on 2-8 shooting from the field. After the fact, Roberson agreed with Tad Boyle’s assessment that he didn’t play with enough energy. Never a good thing to hear after the first game of the season, and Roberson can ill afford to give a subpar effort against an Atlantic 10 team that is more than capable of beating the Buffs.

Dayton Player to Watch- Kevin Dillard: The senior guard averaged six assists per game last season, a number that ranked second in the Atlantic 10 and 16th in the NCAA. He also led the Flyers with 13.3 points per game, 47 steals and 32.7 minutes per game. More or less, this guy does it all for the Flyers in the backcourt, and Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker will have their hands full trying to keep pace with this Southern Illinois transfer. He has also proven that he can perform well in tournament settings, as last November he was named the MVP of the Old Spice Classic, a tournament during which he averaged 15.3 points per game.

Match-up to Watch – the Glass: Simply put, Colorado needs to dominate the rebounding department. In addition to having the best rebounder in the conference in Roberson, Colorado will also have the two tallest players on the floor in Josh Scott and Shane Harris-Tunks (Dayton does not have a player above 6’9’’). Combine that with the fact that Dayton gave up 14 offensive rebounds to Arkansas State in a season-opening 74-61 triumph (leading to a 60% defensive rebounding rate, which is about 10 percentage points below acceptable) and Colorado should have a big advantage here. Limiting second-chance opportunities will be a must in what figures to be a tight game.

Storyline to Watch – Battle for Conference Supremacy: Colorado was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12, while Dayton was picked to finish eighth in the 16-team Atlantic 10. In other words, these teams are projected to finish in the exact same spot proportionally to the size of their conferences. Thus, a game like this will entertain the question “which conference has more depth?” The Atlantic 10 is a non-power conference by name only; more than half of the teams in that league can list an at-large bid as a realistic goal for the season. The A-10 was leaps and bounds better than the Pac-12 last year, but a Colorado victory over the Flyers could start to turn the conversation in the Pac-12’s favor.

Prediction- Dayton 72, Colorado 65: Dayton is usually pretty good in non-conference tournaments, having won the Old Spice Classic last year by handily beating Minnesota in the championship game. History is not always a good indicator of what will happen in the near future, but Dayton is 16-7 against BCS opponents over the last five years and it’s hard to side with a team from a conference that has habitually underachieved in these kinds of tournaments, especially when the team in question went 1-2 in its last non-conference tournament and is still trying to incorporate a bunch of new faces in the lineup. This will be close, but Dayton will pull away with free throws in the end.

KDanna (28 Posts)

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