The Dayton Flyers entered the 2014 NCAA tournament 23-10, seeded 11th.
A juicy first-round matchup against Ohio State in Buffalo made the tournament even more intriguing for a team that hadn’t been since 2009.
What happened next was a run to the Elite Eight that set the Flyers up for a stretch during which they’ll be making their fourth straight tournament appearance this week. They became national darlings in the process.
Here’s what you should remember about that exciting two weeks in March 2014:
FIRST GAME: BEAT OHIO STATE, 60-59
Dayton’s Vee Sanford drove the right side of the lane and scored on a bank shot over the head of Ohio State star Aaron Craft with 3.8 seconds remaining to give Dayton the second-round win.
The next day’s front page of the Dayton Daily News gained national attention as UD and Dayton celebrated.
SECOND GAME: BEAT SYRACUSE, 55-53
Dayton’s “True Team” personality showed in this game as eleven different players saw action. Eight scored. No one had more than Dyshawn Pierre’s 14.
In toppling No. 3 seed Syracuse, Dayton reached the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 30 years, since Roosevelt Chapman and the Flyers made a run to the Elite Eight in 1984 (remember Chapman’s brilliant 41 points against Oklahoma?)
SWEET SIXTEEN: BEAT STANFORD, 82-72
The run continued as Jordan Sibert led the way with 18 points and Kendall Pollard came out of nowhere with the best game of his freshman season, scoring a career-high 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Stanford was a surprise itself as the No. 10 seed, but the Flyers advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1984.
“Honestly, the Elite Eight was never a thought,” sophomore forward Devon Scott said, “but now that we’re here, it’s something we’re definitely ready for.”
ELITE EIGHT: LOST TO FLORIDA, 62-52
The ride came to an end against No. 1 seed Florida, which ended a streak of three straight regional semifinal losses. The Gators led 38-24 at halftime.
Dayton fans, players and coaches recognized the accomplishment despite the hurt.
“It’s always hard to lose the last game of the season,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said, “but in the back of my mind, I’m not sure that a team in the nation probably captured more people’s hearts than these guys did. They did it the right way.”
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