After escaping Buffalo with close wins over No. 6 Ohio State and No. 3 Syracuse last weekend, No. 11 Dayton defied many skeptics in reaching their first Sweet 16 since 1984. And thanks to a balanced offensive attack and quality depth, Archie Miller’s Flyers are headed to the Elite Eight.
Jordan Sibert led four players in double figures with 18 points and as a team Dayton assisted on 19 of their 28 made field goals in a 82-72 win over No. 10 Stanford. Stanford struggled to find the necessary answers for Dayton defensively, looking to both zone and man defenses but to no avail.
Dayton shot 48.3% from the field and committed just ten turnovers, getting out in the open court after playing much of their first two NCAA tournament games in the half court. When faced with Stanford’s 2-3 zone Dayton was able to work the ball into the high post, and the ability to pass the basketball resulted in six made three-pointers. That forced Stanford to go to its man-to-man, and the Cardinal were unable to keep Dayton from penetrating off the dribble.
But regardless of how Dayton got its shots the unselfishness was a constant, resulting in quality looks throughout the night. Seven players accounted for at least two assists, and the Dayton bench outscored the Stanford reserves 34-2. Dayton had an advantage in the depth department entering the game, and their ability (and commitment) to take advantage of it led to success on both ends of the floor.
Next up for Dayton will be either No. 1 Florida or No. 4 UCLA, and they’ll likely be an underdog regardless of the outcome of that contest. But given the way the Flyers are playing, it wouldn’t be wise to rule them out. Archie Miller’s got a tough bunch, one that began Atlantic 10 play 1-5 and looked nothing like a team destined to reach the NCAA tournament much less win games once in.
But the Flyers got back to sharing the basketball offensively and playing better defense, resulting in a 13-2 record over their last 15 games with both loses coming against Saint Joseph’s. Forty minutes away from their first Final Four since 1967, Dayton is certainly capable of taking that next step given the way they’re currently playing.