Dayton, Stanford compete for a spot in the Elite Eight
The road to the Sweet Sixteen had a lot of unexpected twists and turns, ending in a lot of heartbreaks, Cinderella stories, and shredded brackets. And the tourney isn’t over yet. The championship game is fast-approaching, and with this year’s Sweet Sixteen match-ups, the drama of the first two rounds of March Madness is sure to double.
One of the most interesting games to look forward to, however, is Thursday’s match-up between Dayton and Stanford. Both teams caused a lot of grief in terms of ruining brackets, but the #10 and #11 seeds did well to surprise the nation and make a bold statement that the “little guy” can never be counted out.
Aside from #11 seed Tennessee, Dayton and Stanford are the lowest-seeded teams remaining in the tournament. Depending on how well the Vols fare against the Wolverines of Michigan, either Dayton or Stanford could come out as the most unlikely team to enter the Elite Eight. And both teams have the skill and the heart to make Thursday’s game a well fought battle.
Stanford’s size will prove to be a huge advantage (literally) on Thursday night. Specifically, Chasson Randle will spearhead the Cardinal offense. After putting up 23 points against New Mexico in the first round of the tournament, its obvious that Randle can do some damage. Stanford’s biggest limitation, however, will be capitalizing on rebound opportunities. We’ve seen little, if any, improvement in defensive transitions for the Cardinal in offensive rebounds. Dayton has just enough speed to be able to capitalize on those missed rebounds.
The Flyers have a serious disadvantage in size, but luckily their scoring strength lies outside the paint. Both Devin Oliver and Dyshawn Pierre are extremely effective outside shooters and have had no reservations in showing those skills off throughout the tournament so far. The Cardinal may tower over Dayton’s players and make scoring inside the paint a bit of a pain, but the Flyers won’t have too much trouble putting points on the board if they keep it quick and shoot from the outside often.
Overall, I see Stanford as the strongest contender in this match-up, but this won’t be a battle easily won. The Cardinal need to be sure to lock down any opportunity they may give to Dayton in order to maintain a lead in this game. However, if there’s anything the Flyers have taught us in their past two games, it’s that they should never be counted out. They may have another surprise up their sleeve, and with it, another reason for fans across the country to run their brackets through the shredder.
Prediction: Stanford over Dayton by 7 pts.