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Flyers join with NCAA tournament favorites to earn first Elite Eight bids

Devin Oliver, Flyers only Cinderella in Elite Eight thus far
Devin Oliver, Flyers only Cinderella in Elite Eight thus far
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The NCAA tournament kicked off the Sweet 16 on March 27. For the most part, the expected suspects and low NCAA tournament seeds were there, with the exception of the South's 10'th seeded Stanford Cardinal and 11'th seeded Dayton Flyers. But by the end of the night, the Flyers were the lone Cinderella to make the Elite Eight, joining favorites like the Florida Gators, Arizona Wildcats and Wisconsin Badgers.

The Sweet 16 had an underwhelming start, as the Flyers and Badgers cruised over the Cardinal and Baylor Bears. The thrills were saved for later, as the Gators finally pulled away over the UCLA Bruins and the Wildcats rallied over the San Diego State Aztecs.

Dayton's 82-72 victory over Stanford wasn't as close as the final score. The Flyers led for most of the night because their bench outscored the Cardinal's by 34-2. Despite having upsetted the Kansas Jayhawks, the Cardinal had no answers for the Flyers, who made their first Elite Eight in 30 years.

The Badgers ended a nine-year Elite Eight drought, as the Bears were dominated almost as much as they dominated the Creighton Bluejays in the previous round. The 69-52 final was more respectable than that 30-point Baylor win, but Wisconsin barely broke a sweat nonetheless.

The Badgers stand to have it tougher in the Elite Eight, in the only regional final between a No. 1 and No. 2 seed. It almost didn't turn out that way, as the Aztecs led the Wildcats for much of the night while Arizona star Nick Johnson missed his first 10 shots.

Yet it was San Diego State who went cold while Johnson finally caught fire, scoring 15 points in the last three minutes. It made all the difference for the Wildcats in their 70-64 win, as coach Sean Miller joined brother and Flyers' coach Archie Miller in the Elite Eight.

The Gators also joined the Wildcats as the second No. 1 seed to escape the Sweet 16, with a 79-68 win over the Bruins. Despite never completely putting UCLA away, Florida got some distance with a 10-0 run after its lead was trimmed to a point.

Two No. 1's and a No. 2 seed joined a No. 11 into the Elite Eight. But in the NCAA tournament, they are all equal in being one win from the Final Four -- with four more schools to join them tonight.

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