It’s the title game of the ESPN Events Invitational on the parquet floor in the Sunshine State when the Atlantic 10 battles the Ohio Valley Conference. The Dayton Flyers are the “road” team in this contest as they take on the Belmont Bruins Sunday afternoon. Dayton comes in off a 74-73 stunner as they upended #4 Kansas at the buzzer in the semifinals Friday. Belmont advanced by defeating Iona 72-65 in their semifinal matchup Friday the last time they were on the floor. This marks the first time that the two programs have met on the hardwood as Division I foes.
Dayton Flyers Try to Ride Momentum to Tournament TitleDayton knocked off Miami in the opening round of this tournament Thursday before shocking #4 Kansas on a buzzer-beater Friday to punch their ticket here. The Flyers improved to 3-3 on the season and would love to leave Florida with three straight wins along with the tournament title. Against Kansas, Dayton started slowly, trailing 11-1 less than four minutes into the game. The Flyers bounced back, opening the second half with an 18-5 run to turn a 10-point deficit into a three-point lead. They extended the margin to seven with 7:23 to play only to see Kansas answer with a 12-2 run that gave the Jayhawks a 73-70 advantage with 1:05 to play. Dayton regrouped, and down one with the ball in the closing seconds, Mustapha Amzil’s only bucket of the game, a jumper at the buzzer, gave the Flyers the win. In the game, Dayton shot 52.7% from the field, including five of 17 from three-point range, and won the rebounding battle 32-24. Daron Holmes II led the Flyers with 16 points in the win.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐡 ™️— Dayton Basketball (@DaytonMBB) November 27, 2021
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The Flyers come into this contest putting up 68.7 points per game, which is 249th in the nation, on the season. Dayton pulls down 34.3 rebounds per contest and hands out 11.5 assists per game on the year. The Flyers are 179th in scoring defense as they give up an average of 68.5 points per game. Toumani Camara is one of three players averaging in double figures as he averages 10.8 points plus seven rebounds per contest. Elijah Weaver (10.8 points), Daron Holmes II (10 points), Kobe Elvis, Koby Brea, Malachi Smith, R.J. Blakney, Mustapha Amzil, Lynn Greer and Moulaye Sissoko are important role players for coach Anthony Grant. Dayton shoots 47.4% from the field as a team on the year. The Flyers sink 5.7 three-pointers a game while shooting a rough 29.6% from beyond the arc. Dayton is shooting a below-average 68.9% at the free throw line this season.
Belmont Bruins Look to Earn Tournament TitleBelmont followed up their win over Drake in the opening round by dropping Iona in the semifinals Friday to advance to the title game. The Bruins improved to 5-2 on the season with the victory and look to win the tournament title by prevailing here. Against Iona, Belmont led by as many as 13 in the opening half only to see Iona go on a 15-4 run to trim the margin to two. The Bruins trailed by one with nine minutes to go before scoring the next five points to take a 62-58 lead and never let Iona closer than two the rest of the way. Belmont shot 41.4% from the field, including seven of 22 from three-point range, and hit 17 of 22 free throws to offset getting hammered 50-29 on the glass. Ben Sheppard led the Bruins with 25 points and six rebounds in the game.
The Bruins are a high-octane offensive attack, racking up an average of 78.9 points a night on the season, leaving them 72nd in the nation in scoring offense. Belmont collects 34.9 rebounds a night while handing out 16.9 assists a game this season. The Bruins have their struggles defensively as they are 283rd in scoring defense, allowing 74.1 points a night. Nick Muszynski leads the team with 17.9 points plus 6.9 rebounds per contest on the year. Ben Sheppard (16.6 points) and Will Richard (11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds) are capable scoring options as well. Grayson Murphy, Luke Smith, Michael Shanks, JaCobi Woods, Tate Pierson and Caleb Hollander are key personnel for coach Casey Alexander this season. Belmont shoots 46.9% from the floor this season as a team. The Bruins splash 8.9 three-pointers a night while shooting 33.7% from beyond the arc. Belmont knocks down a stellar 76.4% of their attempts at the charity stripe this season.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
When this tournament started, few would have projected a couple of mid-major teams in the title game. After all, you had two top-10 teams in the country in the field in Kansas and Alabama. Instead, Alabama went down in the opening round while Kansas fell in the semifinals. Dayton had plenty of success from the perimeter in the opening round against Miami and caught a break with Kansas going just nine of 20 at the line in the semifinals. Belmont shoots the ball well and they don’t beat themselves at the charity stripe. Look for the Bruins to slow down the Flyers’ momentum as they get the victory in this contest and take the tournament crown.
Full-Game Total Pick
Dayton comes in having seen the over hit in three of their five games on the season after the win over Miami. The Flyers have gone over the mark in each of their last four games, including a combined 147 points against a 139.5-point number in the win over Kansas. That’s impressive given that the Flyers are 326th in tempo with an average of 65.5 possessions a night. Belmont has seen the under hit in four of their seven games this season. The Bruins are 42nd in offensive efficiency, 55th in effective field goal percentage (54%), 34th in two-point shooting (56.6%) and 48th in free throw shooting according to KenPom this season. Belmont is 47th in tempo with an average of 71.7 possessions a night. These teams push the pace and that helps kick this one over the number.