FACTS & STATS: Site: Barclays Center (17,732) -- Brooklyn, New York.
Television: NBCSN. Home Record: UD 13-4, Butler 14-2. Away Record: UD 2-8,
Butler 7-4. Neutral Record: UD 2-1, Butler 3-1. Conference Record: UD 7-9,
Butler 11-5. Series Record: Butler leads, 12-10.
GAME NOTES: The fifth-seeded Butler Bulldogs are set to tangle with the No. 12
seed Dayton Flyers in a first-round matchup of the Atlantic 10 Tournament at
the Barclays Center.
The winner will advance to face fourth-seed La Salle in Friday's quarterfinal
Dayton is seeking its first tournament title since 2003. The Flyers closed out
the regular season by winning three of their last four games, although they
lost to George Washington in Saturday's finale.
Butler, a former Horizon League member, is making its A-10 tourney debut. The
Bulldogs were ranked in the top-10 at one point this season but sputtered a
bit down the stretch with recent losses to Saint Louis and VCU.
Butler leads the all-time series, 12-10. The Bulldogs beat Dayton in January,
79-73, despite top scorer Rotnei Clarke leaving the court in a stretcher after
hitting his head in the first half and reporting loss of feeling in his hands.
Clarke, who was ultimately diagnosed with a severe neck sprain, was able to
return to the floor two games later to help the Bulldogs knock off now top-
Despite their low seeding, the Flyers are certainly not to be taken lightly,
as they have shot 50 percent or better from the floor in six straight
games. On the season, they sport the A-10's best field-goal percentage (.474)
and three point field-goal percentage (.383). Kevin Dillard (15.3 ppg) and Lee
Sanford (12.3 ppg) lead the squad in scoring. Dillard's ability to get to the
free-throw line has proven to be a big difference for the Flyers. He is 43-
of-46 at the charity stripe over his last 10 games. Dillard also leads UD in
assists (4.5), 3-pointers made (53), free throws made (137), free-throw
percentage (.895) and minutes (32.8). Josh Benson and Dyshawn Pierre both rank
in the conference's top-10 in field goal percentage.
The Bulldogs are headlined by Clarke, a first-team all-conference guard who
leads the team in scoring with 16.7 ppg, which also ranks fourth in the
conference. A 42-percent shooter from beyond the arc, Clarke is good for 3.5
threes a night and will no doubt be a focal point after missing most of the
first meeting with Dayton. Senior center Andrew Smith is second on the team
with 11.1 points and a team-best 5.8 rebounds per tilt, while freshman Kellen
Dunham (10.2 ppg) is a strong contender to be named the Atlantic 10 Newcomer
of the Year. The Bulldogs are among the conference's best defensive teams,
ranking fourth in scoring defense (63.8 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense
(.415). Butler's success in tournaments is not a well-kept secret. Coach Brad
Stevens led the team to three Horizon League Tournament championships in five
years and also a pair of national runner-up finishes in the Big Dance.
Many expected Butler to move right to the top of the pecking order in its
inaugural (and likely only) A-10 season. Although the Bulldogs battled through
their share of ups and downs, they are certainly as capable as any other team
of winning this tournament. But first, they must get past a Dayton squad that
is shooting lights-out over its last half dozen games.