Wright State, UD need tourney titles to reach the Big Dance

By Jeff Louderback

Ideally, the University of Dayton and Wright State University will participate in March Madness via winning their respective conference championships. That will need to happen for both schools to earn NCAA tournament bids. The Horizon League is typically a one-bid conference, and the Atlantic 10 has experienced a down year, so the Flyers are not expected to get an at-large invitation.

By winning their home finale against LaSalle and getting a key road win at Duquesne to close the regular season, the Flyers finished 21-10 and secured a double bye in the Atlantic 10 tournament, which opens on Wednesday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Atlantic 10 tournament bracket shows that No. 11 seed Richmond faces No. 14 seed Fordham. The winner meets No. 6 seed St. Louis. UD gets the winner of that contest. If the Flyers prevail, they would set up a potential semifinals clash with No. 2 seed Davidson. Regular season champion VCU is the top seed.

UD is projected as a No. 4 seed in the NIT, according to DRatings. The same site lists Wright State as a No. 8 seed in the NIT and predicts Northern Kentucky will win the Horizon League tournament and receive a No. 14 seed.

Wright State is the top seed in the Horizon League tournament and routed IUPUI in a first-round game, 71-56, last Tuesday. The Raiders meet No. 4 seed Wisconsin-Green Bay in the semifinals Monday at 7 p.m. at Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit. If they win, they will play the winner of Northern Kentucky and Oakland in the championship Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Like many NCAA bracketologists, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi forecasts a No. 15 seed in the NCAA tournament if the Raiders capture their second Horizon League championship in a row. Lunardi projects Wright State to play Michigan State in Des Moines. Wright State was a No. 14 seed last year and lost to Tennessee, 73-47.

Wright State is guaranteed its first NIT bid if it doesn’t win the Horizon League tournament because it won the conference regular season championship. The Raiders have never played in the NIT or any post-season tournament as a Division I school, aside from the Big Dance.

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