In the third round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, the Dayton Flyers took down Syracuse, a not-so-storybook ending to one of the Orange's most historic seasons. While a lot has happened to the Syracuse Orange in the 725-day span since this game, the Flyers are still one of the best teams in the Atlantic 10 and dangerous come tourney time.
With the rematch on Friday, revenge is now on the minds of Orange faithful everywhere. Since the Orange are playing the Flyers for the second-straight tournament game, here is a look at how the 2015-16 teams compare with their 2013-14 squads and how that might impact the results of this year's affair.
Seeding and Expectations
The Orange were the third-seed in the South Region in 2014. After having the best start in school history with 25-straight wins to start the season, they lost five of their last seven heading into the tournament. Despite the decline in performance at the end of the season, expectations remained high. After a convincing win in their first game, losing to the Flyers that early was not what this team expected at all.
This time, they're meeting in the first game with the Orange serving as the 10-seed and underdog. As a former bubble team slumping into this matchup again, losing five of their last six, a win will not come easy. Expectations for this team to make a run are far lower than they were two years ago.
In 2014 Dayton started the season 16-9 but went on to win 10 of their last 12 games, earning them an at-large bid as an 11-seed. They beat Ohio State, SU, and Stanford until falling to Florida in the Elite 8. This year, they are 25-7 and a seven-seed in the tournament.
After winning the A-10 in the regular season, they lost in the second round of the conference tournament, making them 4-4 in their last eight after a nine-game winning streak.
Coaching Staff and Personnel
Both teams feature the same head coaches and assistant coaches with Boeheim and Miller remaining at the helm. In his fifth season, this is so far Miller's best team record-wise.
On Tuesday, Syracuse.com released a feature on the friendship between Syracuse assistant Adrian Autry and Dayton assistant Allen Griffin, two former Orange players that met overseas and have become very close.
The Orange have four players left on this year's roster that were on the roster for their most recent tournament appearance: DaJuan Coleman, Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije and Tyler Roberson. The Flyers' current roster features five such players: Kyle Davis, Dyshawn Pierre, Kendall Pollard, Scoochie Smith and Bobby Wehrli.
By the Numbers
In the 55-53 loss, the Orange shot 38.9 percent from the field, including a disastrous 0-10 from three. The Flyers countered that by shooting 41.3 percent and making seven of their 16 three point attempts (6-11 in the second half). The Orange lacked consistent scoring as C.J. Fair and Tyler Ennis combined to make just 11 of their 35 shots.
Of the four Orange players, Cooney and Gbinije were the only ones to get on the floor, playing 25 and 22 minutes respectively. Cooney was one for six and missed all four of his three-point attempts, helping him garner a net rating of -55 per 100 possessions. Gbinije made four of his five field goal attempts for eight points and played well. With a larger workload ahead of him this time, hopefully that small sample size proves to be a strong indicator of how well he will play this time around.
For the Flyers, Pierre made five of his 12 shot attempts for 14 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes, while Smith had five points and three assists in 18 minutes. They played 11 different people compared to the Orange's seven. Jordan Sibert, a junior at the time and current D-Leaguer, made three of his eight three pointers and had two steals. It goes without saying Orange fans won't miss his presence.
This season, the Orange feature a slightly weaker defense that has a similar offensive output. The true difference on offense comes from where they get their points, as they have already attempted 271 more threes this season than they did in 2013-14. If the Orange were to not hit a shot beyond the arc on Friday, I would say their chances of victory would be slim to none. Luckily for them, the Flyers currently rank 201st in three-point defense and opponents are shooting almost two percent better in 2015-16 compared to 2013-14.The Flyers are also a little more streaky from three this year themselves, as their 34.6 percent clip is worse than in 2013-14.
What Will Happen This Year?
While the past two years have not been kind to the Orange, the Flyers have continued to take care of business, now appearing in the Big Dance for the third straight year. Pierre is still going to be a factor on the glass, along with transfer guard Charles Cooke. They are the two leading rebounders on the team, standing 6'6'' and 6'5'' respectively.
Revenge will not come easy, but then again nothing in the NCAA Tournament does. The game should be close, and while the final score may play out similarly, we will have to wait and see if the Orange can come out on top this time.