Dayton (25-10) vs. Stanford (23-12)

The Sports NetworkMarch 27, 2014 

GAME NOTES: Either the 11th-seeded Dayton Flyers or the 10th-seeded Stanford Cardinal will continue a Cinderella run through the South Region of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night when the squads meet up at FedEx Forum in the Sweet 16.

Awaiting the winner in the Elite Eight will be either fourth-seeded UCLA or top-seeded Florida.

Dayton has advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984, as it conquered a pair of thrilling upsets in the tournament's opening weekend by earning a last-second 60-59 triumph over sixth-seeded Ohio State in the second round before outlasting third-seeded Syracuse in the third round, 55-53. The Flyers are winners of 12 of their last 14 to improve to 25-10 on the season.

Stanford (23-12) has also taken an unlikely road to get to this round. Its upset over seventh-seeded New Mexico last Friday (58-53) was impressive enough, but it built upon that success by shocking second-seeded Kansas on Sunday, 60-57. The Cardinal have reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008, their most recent tournament appearance, and their latest Elite Eight run came in 2001.

This marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs on the hardwood.

In a defensive struggle from start to finish, the Flyers managed to hold off the Orange late in the game, as they used a 10-2 run late in the frame to take a five-point lead they would never surrender, dodging a last-second 3-point attempt by Tyler Ennis to hang on for the two-point victory. They shot a mere 41.3 percent from the field, but Syracuse was even worse (.389). Dyshawn Pierre led the way with 14 points, Jordan Sibert netted 10 on 3-of-8 from 3- point range and Devin Oliver brought down 10 rebounds.

On the season, Dayton usually has a much easier time putting points on the board, as it pours in 72.5 ppg on 46.4 percent field-goal shooting (including 37.6 percent from beyond the arc), and its offensive production is usually good enough to support a solid defensive attack (.439, 67.0 ppg). Sibert paces the squad with 12.4 ppg, having drained 79 3-pointers at a 42.9 percent clip. Oliver (11.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Pierre (11.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg) are active in the rebounding battle, while Vee Sanford narrowly misses the double-digit scorers club with 9.9 ppg.

The Cardinal used a 13-2 run early in the second half of their third-round game to open up a six-point lead, but while Kansas battled back to tie the game at 49 with 5:12 left, Stanford answered with four straight points to take the lead for good. Despite shooting 0-of-9 from 3-point range, the squad shot a respectable 44.7 percent from the field while holding the Jayhawks to a woeful 32.8 percent shooting. Pacing four players in double figures with 15 points was Dwight Powell, who shot 5-of-10 from the field and 5-of-6 at the foul line. Chasson Randle netted 13 and recorded six steals and Stefan Nastic and Anthony Brown scored 10 apiece.

Stanford puts up eerily similar numbers as Dayton this season, as it shoots 46.2 percent from the field for 72.7 ppg, while allowing 67.9 ppg on just 41.9 percent shooting, and the balanced squad also owns positive margins in terms of its rebounding (+1.8) and turnover (+0.2) battles. Randle, a First-Team All-Pac 12 selection, scores 18.7 ppg with great percentages from the floor (.485), 3-point territory (.396) and the free-throw line (.769). Powell stuffs the stat sheet with 13.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg and 3.1 apg, Brown (12.5 ppg) has made 45.2 percent of his long-range buckets and Josh Huestis (11.1 ppg) mans the paint with 8.2 rpg and 1.9 bpg.

Both these underdogs have earned their keep in this tournament, and the well- matched squads should be in for a slugfest in this one. In a game that'll most certainly go down to the wire, expect Dayton's flair for the dramatic to give it the slight edge.

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