Low seeds Stanford, Dayton in big matchup
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Still in the mad March goose chase for college basketball supremacy are unranked Stanford (23-12) and Dayton (25-10), who figured to be long gone by now but will face each other in the NCAA South Regional here Thursday night.
These are the two of the three lowest seeds left in the tournament -- besides No. 10 Stanford and No. 11 Dayton in the South is No. 11 Tennessee in the Midwest.
Might their battle cry be, "Why not us?"
"It's funny you say that phrase," senior Stanford forward Josh Huestis said. "Why not us? As a team, we've talked about that. We use that exact phrase, thinking someone's going to win this tournament. Why not us?
"Coach always tells us there is only a handful of teams that come into this tournament thinking they have a chance to win. The rest of them are just happy to be here. We pride ourselves on being a team that believes we can win the whole thing."
It's simple math to senior forward Dwight Powell following subregional victories over New Mexico and Kansas. "Somebody's going to win the tournament," Powell said. "Somebody that's in the tournament. And we're in the tournament."
Naturally, Dayton is thinking along the same lines after upsets of Ohio State and Syracuse. "Most definitely," senior forward Devin Oliver said. "At first we were really excited to be in the tournament .
"And then, once we got that first win under our belt, it was kind of, 'Just let's keep this going. Let's just continue to do what we do every day.' That's the most important thing, not to stray from who we are. Just be ourselves."
If both teams are themselves, junior Jordan Sibert (12.4), Oliver (11.9) and sophomore Dyshawn Pierre (11.2) will provide balanced scoring and Oliver will lead in rebounding (7.5) and assists (2.4).
For Stanford, junior Chasson Randle (18.7), junior Anthony Brown (12.5), Powell (13.9) and Huestis (11.1) will be among the scoring leaders and Huestis will provide strength on the boards (8.2).
Stanford has not made a regional final since 2001, Dayton not since 1984.
"Our overall theme," Dayton coach Archie Miller said, "will be our ability to match up on the glass with them on both ends. We're going to have to rebound to have a chance." For Stanford, Dawkins said, "defend at a high, high level every possession."
By late tonight, one of them still will be asking, "Why not?"