And sorry Morehead State fans, I’m not talking out your riveting matchup against Mid-Continent College.
The 8-0 Murray State Racers will host the 5-2 Dayton Flyers today at the CFSB Center, in a meeting of two good mid-major teams so far this year.
Here’s today’s First Word:
[Dayton (5-2) at Murray State (8-0)] I’ve spent a lot longer looking at this matchup than most, so you’re getting a much longer preview than usual. The Flyers are coming off of a 29 point loss to a really good Buffalo team, but that loss was in Dayton, which is puzzling. The Flyers were winners of the Old Spice Classic, and although I don’t generally don’t like using RPI statistics this early in the year, Dayton has a much stronger strength of schedule than the Racers, but both team’s RPI are just 2 apart: Dayton is 63rd in RPI, Murray State 61st. Both teams also have a win against one team in the RPI top 25. Dayton also has win over 2 major conference teams in Minnesota and Wake Forest so far this year.
Statistically, these teams are very similar. Both teams are even scoring, good shooting teams with tough defenses, both play similar tempo, both are great at ball control, and both are in the top 13 in the nation at free-throw percentage, but neither send their opponents to the line oftern. In the great tempo free statistics (which are really kind of moot when the teams play the same tempo, but still) Murray State is slightly better on offense, Dayton slightly better on defense. The one area I do see a difference in the statistics is the one weakness I believe Murray has: Dayton is better offensively in the paint, where Murray State is the weakest defensively. The Flyers have four 6’9″ players, and the game could come down to how well the Racers can stop forwards Josh Benson, Chris Johnson, and Matt Kavanaugh, who average about 29 points a game combined for the Flyers. This difference also shows up in rebounding: Dayton averages 5 more rebounds a game than the Racers, although the tempo free rebounding percentage is higher for Murray State.
The guard matchups should favor the Racers, especially given how well Isaiah Canaan has played as of late. But he will likely face Dayton’s leading scorer, Kevin Dillard, who also averages 2.6 steals a game.
Right now, Racers are 3 point favorites on the betting line.
[Mid-Continent College at Morehead State (3-5)] *Yawn* Another lower division win incoming.