It’s very rare that you see a 10 seed vs. and 11 seed in the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16, however that is precisely the matchup that we have here. Dayton is the last representative from the Atlantic 10, which somewhat controversially had 6 teams admitted into the tournament. Dayton lost in their first game of the Atlantic 10 tournament so they certainly did not have momentum heading into the NCAA tournament. They played in the first game of the second round vs. Ohio State and escaped with a nail biting 60-59 victory. In the third round they faced a Syracuse team that like them had lost the first game of their conference tournament. Syracuse had also once been the number 1 team in the country after starting the season 25-0. None of this mattered as Dayton stood toe to toe with them in a low scoring 55-53 victory. Stanford lost 12 games this season and they are far from a perfect team. They were destroyed by UCLA in PAC-12 tournament and had a close game with New Mexico in the second round of the NCAA tournament. They were written off by most prognosticators as a team Kansas would be easily and that turned out to be far from the truth as they executed better than Kansas down the stretch to pull out the 60-57 win and advance to the sweet 16.
The biggest thing Stanford did was use a swarm of defenders to take superstar freshman Andrew Wiggins out of the game as he had as many points (4) as he did turnovers. The Jayhawks were playing without injured big man Joel Embid and it showed on both ends of the floor. It certainly showed up in the offensive box score as the Jayhawks scored just 20 points in the paint. Stanford managed to win the game despite not making a three point shot (0-9) this feat tied the 199 UConn team for most 3 point attempts without a make in a game a team won. Forward Dwight Powell had 15 points and 7 rebounds. Guard Chasson Randle had 13 points and an amazing 6 steals, although he did turn the ball over 7 times. Anthony Brown and Staffon Nestic both contributed 10 points.
The best thing Dayton did was remain patient against the Syracuse zone, they shared the ball and were not afraid to take shots late in the shot clock. They defended very well at the 3-point line, holding Syracuse without a 3 pointer in 10 tries. Forward Devin Oliver was the unsung hero. He went up against a much bigger Syracuse front line and had 10 rebounds to go along with 7 points. Dyshawn Pierre had 14 points and Jordan Siebert had 10, representing the lone Flyers in double figures.
This game may very well be decided in the first 5 minutes. Neither team has a history of playing well from behind and both are strong defensively. Whichever team makes a few outside shots and gets an early lead is likely to get the win.
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