Championship Week recap: Day 2’s best game, top player

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Over the next 13 days, the brackets will start to take shape. Teams with no at-large aspirations will make one final push at the post-season. Teams on the bubble will look to assert themselves as worthy members of “The Big Dance”, and contenders will start priming their engines for a national Championship run. While “March Madness” officially begins following Selection Sunday, the real madness starts now.

Until Sunday, March 11,  this will be your home for Championship Week recaps and previews. The players and teams are starting to prepare for March Madness, so you should too.

The Horizon League was the only conference with tournament action of Tuesday night. The Butler Bulldogs journey to a third-consecutive National Championship game got started off in the right direction, and the Detroit Titans showed why they might be considered as a sleeper pick to win the league’s automatic bid.

Game of the Night: Detroit 80, Loyola (Ill.) 71
Nine different players in this game scored in double-figures. Five players for Detroit and four players from Loyola scored at least ten points. Eli Holman and Ben Averkamp led their teams with 20 points each. The Titans needed a 12-0 run in the late first half to break open the game and a close first half. The Ramblers were able to close the gap in the second half, but could never get within more than six points. The teams shot a combined 43.7 percent from the field and 83.5 percent from the foul line.

Player of the Night:Andrew Smith, Butler
The Bulldog’s big-man scored a season-high 25 points and added seven rebounds in just 27 minutes of action, as Butler defeated Wright State 70-52. Smith was 6-of-7 from the field, and 12-of-14 from the foul line. He also made his only 3-point attempt. The Bulldogs will now face UW-Milwaukee, a team that held Smith in check during the regular season.

Team of the Night: Youngstown State Penguins
All five starters scored in double-figures, and the Penguins shot 47.5 percent from the field (29-of-61) and 43.5 percent (10-23) from beyond the arc. The team had 13 steals and forced 17 Green Bay turnovers, and never trailed after giving up the first basket of the game.

Results from Tuesday:

Horizon League First Round

#3 Detroit 80, #10 Loyola (Ill.) 71
#4 UW-Milwaukee 68, #9 Illinois-Chicago 55
#5 Butler 70, #8 Wright State 52
#6 Youngstown State 77, #7 UW-Green Bay 60