Michigan's Fab Five made two trips to Minneapolis during the 1991-92 season. The second of those came in early April and resulted in a 76-72 victory over Cincinnati in the national semifinals and a 71-51 loss to Duke in the title game.
There were larger crowds for those Final Four games in the Metrodome, but the partisanship and noise level were much greater the first time: Jan. 11, 1992, at Williams Arena.
The fire marshal was not yet overzealous in demanding aisles inside the Barn, and attendance for that noon start on Saturday was 16,193.
The Gophers had endured the most lopsided loss to that point in program history, 96-50, two nights earlier in the Big Ten opener at Indiana.
No matter. Minnesotans loved coach Clem Haskins for the miracle turnaround — Sweet 16 in 1989, final eight in 1990 — and also were intrigued to witness perhaps the most-ballyhooed freshman class of all time.
The best freshman on the elevated floor in that game hailed from Detroit, but he was Gophers guard Voshon Lenard. He needed only 12 shots to finish with 25 points, and the Gophers pulled away for a 73-64 upset.
The large collection of students spent the last couple of minutes chanting "overrated'' at the Wolverines.
Lenard and Michigan's 6-foot-8 guard, Jalen Rose, had been teammates at Southwestern High School in Detroit. There were a couple of versions as to why Lenard didn't wind up at Michigan:
One, the Wolverines pushed hard for Rose and were late in recruiting Lenard. Two, Lenard wanted to move on from being Rose's "sidekick.''
Michigan coach Steve Fisher denied the first of those after Voshon's Barn bust-out, saying, "We wanted him badly.'' Lenard denied the second, saying: "Jalen and I were best pals in high school.''
Reporters asked Voshon postgame why it was then his best pal had said this on a Big Ten teleconference call earlier in the week?
"I think since Voshon is my friend, I'll be more compassionate to him on the court.''
Lenard smiled and said: "I hadn't heard that. It doesn't surprise me. That sounds like Jalen.''
The Gophers finished a mediocre 16-16 that season, then won the NIT at 22-10 in 1993, beating Georgetown in the final. Lenard was named the NIT's MVP.
There were short NCAA appearances in 1994 and 1995. Lenard had been drafted in the NBA's second round in 1994, but under the rules of the time, he elected to return for a senior season with the Gophers.
He had a run of solid seasons in the NBA, excellent on three-pointers, before tearing an Achilles at 31 that basically did him in as a pro.
Lenard ended his Gophers career as the program's all-time leading scorer with 2,103 points. The claw-back after the academic brouhaha that broke in 1999 reached back to his final two seasons and those points were abolished (officially, not actually).
For sure, the do-gooders couldn't take away Lenard's first meeting with fellow Detroiters Rose and Webber and the other Fabs. It was so loud in the Barn that Voshon plugged his ears for a few seconds before shooting free throws near the end.
"The best freshman on the floor was Voshon Lenard,'' teammate Randy Carter said. "He was pumped up, ready to play, and he sure did.''