Thursday, March 27, 2014

NCAA Tournament, Day 5, Part 1

Dayton 82 - Stanford 72

Dayton was simply the better team tonight. Stanford had the height advantage, but Dayton was clearly quicker and overall just more athletic. In response, Stanford played almost exclusively zone defense in the first half, and Dayton torched them. They drove into the paint and either finished at the rim or kicked the ball out for an open look.

Stanford, on the other hand, got their most consistent offense in the post. The problem was, their biggest player, Stefan Nastic, was in foul trouble all game long. He finished with 15 points, but was not able to control the game long enough to a) keep Dayton from jumping out to the early lead or b) allow Stanford to get back even with Dayton in the 2nd half.

In the second half, possession after possession saw the Flyers work the shot clock down to ~10 seconds, then drive into the paint and finish with layups. The offense was simply too easy for Dayton for long stretches of each half (hence the 82 points scored). And when it wasn't, Dayton slipped into the cracks of the zone defense and came up with big offensive rebounds.

In sum, Dayton executed better, were much less bothered by foul trouble (since they typically play 10+ and Stanford relies on 6), and had an overwhelming advantage on hustle plays. All of it adds up to an 11-seed in the Elite Eight.

Wisconsin 69 - Baylor 52

That tweet basically sums it up, Baylor's first half featured 16 points. That's not good. Wisconsin took some time to get going too (they had 29 points at intermission), but they finished the night shooting 52% from the field, compared to Baylor's 31%. Baylor had no answers for Wisconsin's paint play, at either end of the floor.

While we're talking about this game, let's talk about Baylor center Isaiah Austin. He's a 7'1" sophomore who averages 11 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. Oh, and he's completely blind in his right eye. An amazing story.

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