Dayton vs. Arizona odds, prediction, betting trends for 2024 March Madness second-round matchup

It looked like Nevada would be lining up across from Arizona for most of Thursday’s first-round contest, but Dayton caused a complete collapse, erasing a 17-point deficit with a game-ending 24-4 run over the final 7:19. The Flyers pressed the Wolf Pack into turnovers, taking advantage of a lack of aggressiveness from an offense that milked clock instead of concentrating on finishing what got them the lead in the first place.

Dayton juniors Nate Santos and Koby Brea made huge shots when their team needed them most and Da’Ron Holmes II defended brilliantly and protected the paint. Their reward is a date with the Wildcats, the No. 2 seed in the West region that advanced with an 85-65 rout of Long Beach State.

All five starters scored in double-figures for Arizona, led by sophomore Kylan Boswell’s 20 points and eight assists. The Wildcats broke open a game that was competitive throughout the first half, bouncing back from a disappointing Pac-12 Tournament semifinal defeat that was their second loss in three games entering the Big Dance. They lost to Princeton as the No. 2 seed in 2023 and are looking to reach their second Sweet 16 in three seasons under head coach Tommy Lloyd.

Here’s everything to know about betting on Arizona vs. Dayton, who meet Saturday in Salt Lake City’s Delta Center, including updated odds, trends, and our prediction for this second-round game.

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Arizona vs. Dayton odds

Here are the latest college basketball betting odds for Dayton vs. Arizona at top-rated sportsbooks:

Oddsmakers have made Arizona a favorite in all but two of its 34 games this season, so it’s no surprise to see it in this role as a No. 2 seed. The Wildcats failed to cover a 20.5-point spread on Thursday when the 49ers hit a free throw with 1:09 left and their reserves missed a pair of late attempts.

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Dayton closed as a 1.5-point underdog against Nevada despite being the No. 7 seed against a 10. This is the most points the Flyers have been a ‘dog by since Houston was favored by 12 against them in the Charleston Classic Championship on Nov. 19.

Three betting trends to watch 

  • Arizona has gone 1-3 ATS over its last four contests. It was a cover machine early in the season, starting 8-0 straight up and against the number, but has gone just 13-13 since.
  • The Flyers had gone just 2-5 ATS prior to Thursday’s comeback. Due to their status as Atlantic 10 preseason favorites, they’ve only been an underdog five times and are 3-1-1 ATS, winning outright three times.
  • The OVER is 6-2 in Dayton’s last eight games despite losing on Thursday. After falling short of the projected total, the UNDER is 7-2 in the last nine involving Arizona.

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Arizona key players

Although Boswell is arguably the most talented of the Wildcats players, he’d never led them in scoring and assists in the same game prior to Thursday’s win, so he can be a significant x-factor if he has a big tournament. Veteran guards Caleb Love and Pelle Larson have been more consistent. Love started for North Carolina in the 2022 National Championship game and had a great tournament but shot just 5-for-24 in the final. He was named Pac-12 Player of the Year this past season, his first at Arizona, leading the team in scoring (18.1 ppg). His 11 boards on Thursday were a season-high, pitching in to help aid the team’s primary bigs, Oumar Ballo and Keshad Johnson, who played in last season’s National Championship game while at San Diego State, leading the Aztecs in scoring in their loss to UConn.  

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Dayton key players

Holmes is one of the nation’s premier defenders, able to protect the rim and switch onto guards, so he’s invaluable to what the Flyers do at both ends. Head coach Anthony Grant is an alum and preaches defense above all else. He’s had a lot of success in the transfer portal, landing Kobe Elvis (DePaul), Enoch Cheeks (Robert Morris), Nate Santos (Pitt) and Javon Bennett (Merrimack), all of whom played key roles on Thursday alongside Holmes and Brea. Brea made five 3-pointers and helped fuel the comeback with huge shots. He’s made multiple shots from beyond the arc in 13 of his last 14 contests and will go into Saturday’s game on a 32-for-59 run (54 percent).

Best individual matchup: Oumar Ballo vs. Da’Ron Holmes II

The 6-foot-10 Holmes is from Arizona and will be way up for this challenge. He committed to the Flyers despite an offer from the Wildcats and was co-Player of the Year in the A-10 this past season. He’ll be matched up with the 7-foot Ballo often and will be outweighed significantly but should hold his own due to his athleticism. Ballo was named First-team All-Pac-12 for the second straight season and is also known for his defense and shot blocking, making this a terrific matchup.

Arizona vs. Dayton stat to know

Being streaky has been a huge part of Dayton’s season, so it’s interesting that Thursday’s game with Nevada included a 16-0 run to close the first half working against it and the game-ending 24-4 spurt. Brea leads the nation in 3-point accuracy at 49.7 percent and will have to come up with more big shots to help produce an upset since Arizona ranks third nationally in points per game, averaging nearly 88.

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Dayton vs. Arizona prediction

The Flyers will need to keep the Wildcats from speeding up the pace since they’re unlikely to win a track meet against a team so adept at succeeding in those. Look for Grant to study how USC and Oregon were able to slow Arizona down in their wins against the Pac-12 regular-season champs earlier this month. Brea, the A-10 Sixth Man of the Year, may be utilized as a starter again as he was on Thursday and will need to find a rhythm early. Ultimately, the Wildcats should end Dayton’s run given the tournament experience both Love and Johnson have brought to table upon transferring in this season since Lloyd’s teams have been upset in the last two NCAA Tournaments.

Prediction: Arizona 76, Dayton 65. Arizona (-9.5) covers the spread with the game going UNDER the total (149). 

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