[8:30 PM] Dayton v. Nebraska

Who will WIN this matchup?

Dayton Flyers (2-1)

Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-0)


Nebraska has been one of the stingiest teams on defense, and the Cornhuskers will try to take advantage of injury-riddled Dayton when the teams meet Thursday in the first round of the Wooden Legacy at Cal State Fullerton. Nebraska is surrendering an average of 51 points through three games – third-fewest in the nation – and will try to maintain that trend against the Flyers, who are without two-year starter Kendall Pollard (thigh) and recently lost transfer Josh Cunningham for the year (ankle).

Tai Webster took a huge leap for the Cornhuskers last season when he averaged 10.1 points and shot 47.4 percent from the floor after averaging 3.9 points and shooting 35.8 percent the season before. Webster, a 6-foot-4 guard from New Zealand, has scored at least 20 points in two games this month – something he managed just twice all of last season – and has connected on 53.3 percent of his field goal attempts, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range. Jack McVeigh has been the perfect compliment at small forward, as he’s shooting 52.6 percent from 3-point range and is tied for the team lead at six rebounds a game.

Despite the injuries, Dayton was on the verge of a top-25 ranking last week before losing to No. 15 Saint Mary’s on Saturday, though the Gaels needed two free throws with seven seconds left to seal the 61-57 win.

The Flyers’ cupboard of talent isn’t bare, as they feature one of the best guard tandems in this tournament in Charles Cooke and Scoochie Smith – both of whom are shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point range. Cooke, a 6-5 senior, is averaging 23 points and seven rebounds after hitting the 20-point mark 12 times en route to an Atlantic 10 Conference first-team selection last season. Smith is averaging 15.7 points, 4.3 assists and 2.7 steals so far this season, setting up a great matchup with Webster in the tournament opener.

Seven of Nebraska’s top nine scorers are freshmen or sophomores. Glynn Watson Jr. exploded out of the gate with 23 points in the opener against Sacramento State, but the sophomore guard has scored a total of eight points in the two games since, putting into question whether he’s the right fit alongside Webster. Evan Taylor, who began his career at Samford before playing at Odessa College last season, could be in line to eat away at Watson’s minutes, and has seen his playing time climb from six minutes off the bench in the season opener to 26 minutes in Saturday’s win against Louisiana Tech.


StreakSmarts Pick: Dayton Flyers

Confidence: 4/10

StreakSmarter Pick