FBL Varsity

February Madness Diary, Entry VII

By  Last updated: 27th April 2011

We now return to the Midwest bracket (after a considerable hiatus due to broadcast problems) and the game updates from Champaign, Illinois.

2 LSN 92
15 Belmont 45

The Leprosy School of Normalcy kicked off the day’s games in Champaign with a 47-point blowout victory over the Atlantic Sun champion Belmont Bruins. Senior guard Alex Renfroe (22/12/4/0/1) had a great game for the Bruins, hitting most all of his shots and making plays happen for Belmont. But it was an all-Renfroe show, as the Bruins had little defense to counter the Leper attack. Terrence Williams (20/8/5/3/0) was the game’s top player for LSN, while Wellington Smith (50% of 12/3/3/1/5) had a huge defensive game off the bench. LSN rolled, leaving disappointed Belmont fan dreams and the spread of leprosy in its wake.

11 Arizona 68
6 Minnesota 43

Arizona fired off the first upset at Champaign with a convincing 25-point victory over the Golden Gophers. 5-10 junior guard Nic Wise scored 26 points (26/3/0/2/0) and 6-10 junior forward Jordan Hill had 22 points and 13 rebounds (22/13/1/0/2) to lead the Wildcats to their seventh win in a row. Team leader and forward Chase Budinger (17/5/5/5/0) had 5 steals, causing chaos in the Gophers game plan.

“We are just fighting and getting better,” Wise said. “We still feel we are not at our peak yet. We are still learning things and getting things done on the fly.”

Freshman point guard Devoe Joseph of Ajax, Ontario had a career-high 23 points (and hit 7 of 8 3-pointers) to lead the Golden Gophers, but Minnesota shot an inexcusably sloppy 10 for 30 on the day from 2-point range. Sophomore point guard Al Nolen (10/1/5/0/0) was the only other Minnesota player to score in double digits.

7 Gonzaga 63
10 Utah State 54

Gonzaga shot a season-best 60 percent from the field, had five players score in double figures and still couldn’t shake the tenacious Utah State Aggies until late in the second half.  The Bulldogs’ main problem was a weak defensive effort, which netted only 4 steals and 2 blocks.

Sophomore forward Austin Daye (17/9/0/1/1) made five free throws in the final 27.8 seconds to seal the Bulldogs’ 11th victory in 12 games.  Other Gonzaga standouts were senior guard Jeremy Pargo (12/5/2/0/0) and freshman guard Demetri Goodson (13/2/2/1/0).

“We didn’t play inspired by any stretch, which is unfortunate,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “But we got through it.”

The Aggies lost the game by shooting a miserable 36.5%.  Their key players were senior forward Gary Wilkinson (12/6/0/0/0) and junior guard Jared Quayle (12/4/2/2/0), though like Gonzaga, Utah State’s defense played poorly, and gave the Bulldogs open shot after open shot.

3 Memphis 58
14 North Dakota St. 54

In the primetime evening game, the Memphis Tigers barely held off the North Dakota State Bison, eking out a four-point victory that nearly went to overtime until a late-game surge by Memphis. This was the second year in a row that Memphis started the national tournament with a disappointing performance against a lesser opponent; last year the second-seeded Tigers were challenged by the fifteent-seeded Wagner Seahawks in a hard-fought 79-70 victory. Against the Bison, Frosh phenom Tyreke Evans (13/3/5/1/3) struggled with a subpar 4-10 shooting performance. However, Memphis was bailed out here by solid games from junior forward Shawn Taggart (19/4/1/1/2) and senior forward Robert Dozier (14/6/3/3/3).

Despite his best efforts, NDSUs Brett Winkelman couldnt beat Memphis alone.

Despite his best efforts, NDSU's Brett Winkelman couldn't beat Memphis alone.

The Bison, in their first Division I postseason appearance, rolled through the Summit League with an 18-5 regular season record, and may have caught the Tigers sleeping in Champaign. Senior forward Brett Winkelman shot 10 for 13 from the field and played stellar defense, posting a 24/7/0/4/2 line. Senior guard Ben Woodside (15/5/5/2/0) kept the ball moving and stymied Memphis defenders throughout the night. North Dakota State out-rebounded Memphis 43-29. The aggressive Bison defense had 13 steals and 6 blocks, as Memphis came a mistake or two away from ceding a huge loss. Though the Bison leave Champaign without a victory, and will lose much of their team core to graduation, they’ll be the toast of Fargo upon the return home.

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