UNC Bears: Can Devon Beitzel do a Jimmer Fredette and beat San Diego State in Big Dance?
The CU Buffs got screwed out of a ticket to the Big Dance, but the University of Northern Colorado Bears' Big Sky tournament victory means they'll take part in March Madness. Of course, most experts think you'd have to be crazy to believe UNC could topple their opponent, San Diego State. Yet there is a formula for success against the Aztecs -- one established by a certain Jimmer Fredette.
San Diego State's only two losses this year came at the hands of Brigham Young, and in both contests, Fredette was the major factor. He put up 43 points in BYU's 71-58 win on January 26. Then, on February 26, Fredette tallied 25 in an 80-67 victory.
In the first contest, Fredette got little help from his teammates, at least on the offensive end. In the second, the attack was more balanced thanks to Charles Abouo and Noah Hartsock, who ended up with 18 and 15 points, respectively.
As for the squads' third matchup of the year, it went the Aztecs' way, despite 30 points from Fredette, in part due to the absence of Brandon Davies, a key contributor suspended from the Cougars due to an honor-code violation -- reportedly having sex with his girlfriend.
Come to CU, Brandon! You can have all the sex you'd like there!
What's all this got to do with the Bears? Devon Beitzel is UNC's version of Fredette -- the team's leading scorer and facilitator, with great floor vision and the ability to make his own shot. If he can go off in a big way, the Bears have a puncher's chance, especially if some of his teammates -- Neal Kingman, we're looking at you -- do more than just chip in.
Which isn't to say an upset is likely. The Aztecs have a couple of incredible talents in Kawhi Leonard, who can score and rebound with the best of them, and Billy White, who actually led San Diego State in scoring in the most recent pairing against BYU. A lot of bracketologists have them going a long way in the tournament, and that's plenty possible. Moreover, SDSU will likely use the same plan against UNC as they did versus the Cougars -- blanket Beitzel and dare his teammates to step up. It worked last time around...
Whatever the outcome, here's betting UNC gives the Aztecs a better contest than most observers expect, by taking a page from the Book of Jimmer.
More from our Sports archive: "CU Buffs could be passed by University of Northern Colorado on road to NCAA Big Dance."
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.