With the best NCAA tournament seed in program history, Dayton would be disappointed not to advance to at least the Sweet 16.
Still, many might be surprised if it happened.
Even if they can take care of struggling Florida in the first round Sunday, the Flyers would likely have to face one of the nation’s top programs and the host of this part of the Stanford Regional in the next game.
Dayton (23-7) is the sixth seed and could face a second-round matchup with third-seeded Penn State, which enters the tournament ranked 14th whereas the Flyers didn’t even get a vote in the latest AP poll. The first two rounds are being played at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa.
The Flyers are trying to move on from the sting of losing to Fordham in the Atlantic 10 tournament championship game, likely costing them a shot at a better seed than 6. Even with an at-large bid, coach Jim Jabir’s team still earned the highest seed in program history.
Dayton earned its fifth consecutive NCAA berth but is 2-4 all-time in tournament games.
"It will be disappointing if we don’t have at least a chance of getting through this weekend and playing another weekend," Jabir said. "This is the best seed we’ve ever had and we want to take advantage of it and use it to advance."
The Gators (19-12) are seeded 11th after losing five of their last seven games. They’re back in the tournament for the first time since 2012 and would like to stick around for a while. They placed fifth in the rugged SEC – their best finish since 2008-09 – even with one of the thinnest rosters of any tournament team.
Florida has played just eight players in all but two games this season, seven against LSU on Jan. 12 and nine against Florida State and Nov. 21. The Gators also have no starters taller than 6-foot.
"Our leadership did a great job in leaning into the idea that smaller is better," coach Amanda Butler said. "What you believe is so powerful and I think our team really believed that smaller was better."
Jaterra Bonds is a 5-foot-7 senior who led Florida with 15.6 points per game.
The Flyers are led by junior guard Andrea Hoover, who averaged team highs of 17.2 points and 3.6 assists. The first Atlantic 10 player of the year in school history also had 66 3-pointers, twice as many as any teammate.
Hoover led Dayton to its second consecutive A-10 regular season championship.