Mid-Major Spotlight V4

Monday, December 2, 2019 10:30 PM | CBN

Mid-Major Spotlight V4

By: Liam Blutman

Lets just cut to the chase... The Mid-Major player of the week is on the same team as the Mid-Major team of the week. That’s the only hint you get. Here we go…
The Dayton Flyers are my Mid-Major TOTW. These guys went to Hawaii with no expectations and put on a show! WOW! Each and every college basketball fan came away impressed with Dayton in each and every half of basketball they played. Things started off with a blowout win over Georgia. It was a decisive 80-61 win and the Flyers held Anthony Edwards to 6 points on 2-10 shooting. Rightfully, they fed Obi Toppin early and often as Obi scored 14 points in the first 5:10 of this game! Enough about Obi though, I’ll get to him later... Jalen Crutcher dropped 20 in this match shooting  7-15 from the field and 4-9 from deep. Game two was a rout of Virginia Tech, a skilled Hokies team who had just beaten Michigan State and Dayton whooped ‘em 89-62! Rodney Chatman really impressed me this tournament with his unselfishness and stellar defense. Chatman locked down Wabissa Bede and held him to 2-9 FG. In the final game in Maui, the Flyers went toe to toe with Kansas. It was a fantastic game, back and forth and there was never a double digit lead. It was a very close game for 40 minutes, so close that overtime was required. Despite losing to Kansas 90-84, this was a really telling game for Dayton. Other guys stepped up like Ryan Mikesell who had 19 as well as Ibi Watson and his 16 points. Obi scored 18 but was limited early with KU defending him extremely well, thus forcing other guys to step up. It’s important that we saw how deep Dayton is. Much of the Flyers success came from three as they shot 37-84 in Maui. That’s good for a 44% clip. They kept getting open looks because of how unselfish the entire team plays. They are always making the extra pass and simply don’t care who is putting the ball in the basket. Teams were doubling Obi Toppin and that was killing them because Obi would just pass out of the double team and find somebody for an open three. What’s left for Dayton in non-conference play? Neutral site clashes with St Mary’s and Colorado. Two more excellent opportunities to boost their resume. Following that will be conference play in a much improved A-10. This conference has been super impressive early on and I can see 5+ teams making the NCAA Tournament. I believe that VCU, Dayton, Richmond, Saint Louis, and Rhode Island are NCAA Tourney caliber teams. Crazy to think that Davidson isn’t on this list but the Wildcats have struggled mightily early on. My preseason final four featured an A-10 team in VCU, maybe I was wrong and Dayton is the Final Four threat... Hmm. This Flyers team is really deep, has an incredibly efficient offense, shoots the three well, is unselfish, has a top tier defending guard and good defensive presences down low, and plays for each other. This is not a team anybody will want to match up with in March!

As you might assume, my Mid-Major POTW is Obi Toppin. I really liked Obi coming into this season. You might have read my mid-major breakout players article that featured Toppin as one of my hot five to watch. He burst onto the national scene in Maui with a tremendous three games. I saw this kid as a top 20 pick before the season but after Maui I believe he’s a lottery for sure. You have to remember he’s still raw. He had a growth spurt when he got to Dayton which pushed him to 6’9” and he redshirted two years ago because well, he was that raw. Obi totaled for 25 points against Georgia, 24 against Virginia Tech, and 18 against Kansas. He was an efficient 25-36 from the field, good for a nice 69% clip. Obi was catching balls in the low post, spinning towards the baseline and finishing layups or dunks with ease. He’d step out for three and hit it with no problem. Against VA Tech he was able to hit 3 three’s in 3 straight possessions! It was madness in Maui with Obi averaging 20.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.5 BPG, and shooting 69.7% from the field. While he’s only averaging 1.3 APG, you have to know he’s an absurdly underrated passer. That’s something I highlighted in my previous article featuring Obi as his passing was to be coveted by NBA scouts despite not racking up assists. He was passing out of double teams with such ease, finding the open man or passing cross court to an open corner  for three. Such great vision, such high IQ and he was protecting the rim so well too. Guys were thinking twice about attacking the paint because Toppin was sitting down low ready to swat anything. He blocked 3 shots against the Jayhawks. Obi Toppin is likely going to be your A-10 Player of the Year, is the best player in all of Mid-Major hoops… And a sure fire lottery pick in my opinion. How can the NBA not love this guy! 

Team of the Week
Week 1 - Colgate
Week 2 - Montana State
Week 3 - Utah State
Week 4 - Dayton

Player of the Week
Week 1 - Jordan Roland
Week 2 - Anthony Lamb
Week 3 - Jason Preston
Week 4 - Obi Toppin




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