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North Dakota State (17-13) at Wyoming (20-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 14, 9:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Arena Auditorium (15,000) -- Laramie, Wyoming. Television: None. CBI Record: North Dakota State 0-0, Wyoming 0-1. Series Record: Wyoming leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Making their 24th appearance in the postseason, the Wyoming Cowboys are at home tonight as they host the North Dakota State Bison in the first round of the 2012 College Basketball Invitational.
The Cowboys, winners of the NCAA Tournament title back in 1942-43, have a record of 16-28 all-time in the postseason, but the good news is that the program has a mark of 6-3 in such games played at home. A member of the Mountain West Conference, Wyoming finished with a record of 20-11 overall but as the sixth seed in the MWC Tournament, the team never made it through the quarterfinal round as it bowed to nationally-ranked UNLV, 56-48, at the Thomas & Mack Center last week.
As for the Bison, they hail from the Summit League where they were the fifth seed in that conference's 28th annual tournament, and wound up bowing to Western Illinois in the quarterfinals there 10 days ago, 58-53. North Dakota State, which took part in the NCAA Tournament in 2009 after defeating Oakland in the conference tournament title game, has an overall record of 17-13 this season.
While this is just the second Division I postseason appearance overall for the Bison, their first in the CBI, Wyoming has been involved in this event previously, losing to Northeastern in the first round of the tourney back in 2009 by a score of 64-62.
As far as an all-time series between these two teams is concerned, Wyoming has won both previous encounters, although those contests took place more than 40 years ago. In 1962, the Cowboys posted a 94-77 win at home, and then three years later logged a 97-63 victory again in Laramie.
The winner of this contest will contend against the survivor of the Washington State/San Francisco meeting in the quarterfinals next Monday.
North Dakota State, which finished just 1-3 in true road games against non- conference foes this season, was paced by Taylor Braun in scoring with his 15.5 ppg, knocking down 51.9 percent of his field goal attempts and scoring more than one-fourth of his points at the free-throw line (125-of-160). Comfortable enough to do anything and everything to help his team succeed, Braun led the program in rebounding (6.6 rpg) and steals (38) and was also second on the unit with 76 assists. Lawrence Alexander (12.9 ppg) was much more comfortable as the top passer for the group with his 139 dishes over 30 starts, while Marshall Bjorklund (11.5 ppg) was a recipient of more than one of those passes as he converted a sizzling 66.5 percent of his field goal chances.
Like several teams in the Mountain West these days, the Cowboys put much of their time and talent into controlling the tempo and scoring opportunities, resulting in opponents being permitted a mere 55.5 ppg. Foes were held to just 40.8 percent shooting from the floor and forced into 14.5 turnovers per game by the Pokes, the team using those efforts to race out to an 11-1 record to begin the 2011-12 campaign. At the offensive end of the floor, three players scored in double figures for Wyoming, all bunched together as Leonard Washington stepped up with 12.6 ppg and both Francisco Cruz and Luke Martinez delivering 12.2 ppg apiece. Washington, a 56.3 percent shooter from the field, also led the program in rebounding (6.9 rpg) and blocked shots (35) over the course of 31 games as well.
Keeping points to a minimum with be the objective of the Cowboys once again, and chances are North Dakota State will have to obey that directive on the road tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wyoming 62, North Dakota State 53
03/14 10:38:17 ET
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