Category Archives: North Dakota State Bison

Bison Breakdown

In his first post, the new guy broke down the school whose football team lost to the North Dakota State Bison two years ago, the Minnesota Golden Gophers – I will breakdown the darlings of the NCAA’s from Fargo in like fashion.Ben Woodside

1. Key to a Bison Win: Be aggressive but under control. Saul Phillip’s team looked extremely passive in the first half of the Summit League Championship game.  I don’t know if that was nerves or a team that was over confident and waiting for the game to balance out and “come to them”. Either way, they need to play their game with aggression from the opening tip.

2. Key Player for the BisonBen Woodside. Predictable, you might say.  Sure, it’s predictable, he is NDSU’s leading scorer.  Why is he so valuable??  He is the best player in the Summit League and is the 10th leading scorer in the country.  Typically, as Woodside goes, so go the Bison.

3.  X-Factors for Bison: Everyone not named Ben Woodside.  The Bison have capable scorers and I have a feeling Kansas will have a guy hounding Woodside from the moment the ball is in play.  The Bison have double-digit scorers in Mike Nelson (11.9), Brent Winkelman (18.7), and Michale Tviet (9.7)  has picked up his game of late and shoots 46% from deep.  Plus, all the Bison fans will make the Dome feel like a Bison home game (my goal was to say Bison as many times as possible in this paragraph – I got 6). Cole Aldrich

4.  Why the Bison Could Lose: It’s Kansas.  They have Cole Aldrich.  He is a monster in the post.  The Bison were beat-up by Oakland’s 6’11″ center, Keith Benson .  Aldrich goes for 15 and 11 a game, and his shot is nearly unblockable – he has the KG behind the head release.

5.  How Far will the Bison Get?: It depends on who wins the West Virginia and Dayton match-up.  I think it will be a tough match-up against WV, NDSU is more efficient on the offense end, but could struggle guarding WV’s length and athletic ability.  Dayton is more balanced, has no player averaging more than 13 points, and shoots only 33% from distance.

Additional Note- The Bison are the 3rd best in the country in FG% at 48.9% and 5th in 3PT% at 41.2%, compared to KU who is 21st in FG% at 47.9% and 34th in 3PT% at 37%.  The Bison starting line-up is taller than KU- expect at center – so the Bison should be able to get their shots off , and if the percentages hold true, NDSU will be in the game.

I do not expect them to win on Friday, but I think is the game is close, the Bison are lead by experienced players who are confident and battle tested.

Fear the Herd!

Eight Thoughts of Madness – plus another point of the highest importance

I am not going to breakdown the brackets, there are enough people to do that.  But I do want to highlight a couple of details, players and match-ups that should be interesting.

1.  I am pretty sure every bubble team got into the tourney.  Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona, etc.

The seeding for said bubble teams is very high.  I think MN is a 10 seed.  I understand that “if” they were to get in, the Gophers are better than many automatic bids and some at large bids.  But a 10 seed is like giving Tubby’s team the “you will make up for your late season disaster” pass, which I am not sure they deserved.

And Penn State and St. Mary’s out, not sure why.

2.  NDSU gets as much of a home court advantage as possible in Minneapolis.

The Bison only have to drive 3 hours or to face No. 3 seeded, and defending champs, Kansas.  Which is great because NDSU travels very well.  Two points:

a.  In the midst of a huge blizzard that dumped 8-12 inches of snow on the region, the Bison nation was in full effect at the Summit League tourney supporting their team in Sioux Falls, South Dakota – I also find the name of the city a little ironic. 

b.  Two years ago,when the Bison football beat the Gophers at the Dome, I was told the Dome was at least 50% Bison fans, and probably more.  So I would expect a “home game” feel to the first round mach-up with Kansas.

There are some very interesting facts surrounding this game with the Jayhawks.Jeff Boschee

  • North Dakota State is the state’s first school to make the NCAA tourney.
  • NDSU is playing Kansas Jayhawks, who recruited Jeff Boschee from Valley City, ND – the first McDonald’s All-American from ND.  Jeff went on to be a four year starter, played in the 2002 Final Four, and finished his career as the Big-12 leader in three pointers made.  Texas’ A.J. Abrams broke that record this year.
  • Kansas center Cole Aldrich was a McDonald’s All-American out of Bloomington, MN who had a coming out party against UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough on the Jayhawk’s way to the national championship.
  • During Boschee’s senior year, Kansas came to Grand Forks, ND and played the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux in the first ever event at the infamous Engelstad Area.
  • Pointless side-note -On that UND team was NBA draft pick Jerome Beasley.

3. Does it bother anyone else that three out of the four No. 1 seeds lost the last game they played?  It bothers me.

4.  I think UConn is not the weakest No. 1 seed, but they are the most likely to lose before the Final Four.  They have a potential match-up against with Purdue or Missouri/Memphis.

5.  Which the toughest region?  The South Region.  UNC, Oklahoma, Syracuse, and Gonzaga make-up the best top four seeds in any bracket and after that is a crap shoot to determine who get out of that mess.

6.  No. 12 seed most likely to beat a No. 5 seed?  I have two.Jordan Hill

  • This may have more to with who the 5 seed is, than who the 12 seed, but  Western Kentucky has a great draw against a bipolar Illinois team that struggles offensively.
  • No. 12 Arizona match’s up with No. 5 Utah in the Midwest Region.  Arizona has at least two NBA players and you might she a “last hurray” type effort with Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill - just imagine if Jared Bayless and Brandon Jennings decided to play for the Wildcats, I bet Lute would have stuck around.

7.  MnM’s. In my brackets I have seven schools that start with the letter “M” playing in the second round.  Five of the in the West Region – Memphis, Missouri, Maryland, Marquette and Mississippi State.

8.  My Final Four – In one bracket I have all four No. 1 seeds.  In the other, three No. 1 seeds and Memphis, but trust me, it gets all crazy before the final four.

9.  On Wednesday evening or so, we are going to have a special guest to help me breakdown some of our favorite teams.  He has a close connection to a couple teams and opinons on the others – which is what we need here, more opinions. 

Now, I have stated that did not play varsity sports in high school, but the new guy did – if you are nice and say king things, he might stick around and post on a regular basis .

So over the next couple days clear your schedule and get ready for the greatest sport event in the world.

Conference Tournaments

Mission Possible

It was hard watching the North Dakota State game last night’s game against Oakland for the Summit League tourney championship.  The first half was like watching players I had never seen before in the Bison uniform, they were lazy, lacking the energy and confidence we have been used to here in Fargo.Ben Woodside

In the second half, Saul Phillip’s team finally found their confidence and came back from 16 points down to take the lead on a Ben Woodside jumper with 3.3 seconds left in the game.  The win gives the Bison it’s first NCAA birth in the school’s first year eligible.  NDSU’s win is the first of it’s kind since 1972 when Louisiana – Lafayette made the jump to D1 tourney bid.

Congratulations to the Bison and I know former Bison coach Tim Miles is has to be beaming today.  Miles, currently coaching at Colorado State, was the architect behind the Bison vision to red-shirt this year’s senior when they were freshmen, ultimately planning for last nights game five years ago.

Now, I am not sure Woodside and the Bison can be this year’s Steph Curry and Davidson, but I do expect them to competitive as a 12 or 13 seed.  I would expect them to push whom ever they meet in the opening round.

Remember a couple seasons ago?  The Bison, lead by this years starters, beat an Alando Tucker lead Wisconsin team and a Marquette team with the same three guard combo that the Golden Eagles this season.  Both teams were ranked when they lost to the Bison.  They also pushed a talented, but under achieving, USC team before losing by 4 points this season in a game the Woodside did not play well.

All of Fargo is happy that Woodside is getting more publicity, this kid is as fearless as he is talented and should be given a chance at the next level.

For the second time in less than, ESPN’s Andy Katz wrote a blog post on the Bison.

Big Ten

I have no expectations for the Big-Ten tournament, because I have no clue which versions of teams will show up.  As I write this, West Virgina is rolling over Notre Dame in the Big east tourney by 15 points.

Each Big-Ten has a “not so subtle” Jekyll and Hyde issue, with the Michigan State Spartans doing the best job at control the ugly and disgusting side of their teams play.  That being said, they were embarrassed by Northwestern at MSU.

Every team had horrible loses and impressive wins and could go all the way, but I do expect MSU or Purdue to win the whole thing.

Minnesota and Michigan need to win two games to be considered a “tourney quality team”.  Both had great starts to the season, and both let a great opportunity to cement a return to Big-Ten “top level” competition – I expect them to be there soon.

Penn State and Northwestern are both one win away from the tourney.  Both have beaten top tier Big-Ten teams and really should be given a look if they win one or not.

Big East

PITT, UConn, Louisville, Marquette, West Virginia or Villanova?

I am hoping for another UConn/PITT clash, but this is the Big East tourney, so the legend of Gerry McNamara looms heavy over the Madison Square Garden.

Syracuse has played well strong down the stretch, Notre Dame has not.  PITT is almost unbeatable.  Unless you are Providence – who should be a given for selection Sunday.

UConn is a first round lose away from a No. 1 seed, and Louisville needs to win the Big-East tourney to seriously be considered a No. 1 seed.

I have no idea on WVU.  They are not very deep – actually, no team has a lot of quality depth in the Big East – I could be easily persuaded by good argument from a PITT or UConn expert. The Mountaineers do have stud junior De’Sean Butler who is a legit NBA prospect.

My dream is for Notre Dame to win the whole tourney, Luke Harongody deserves better than the NIT.  Without the tourney Championship, I am not sure they will hear their name called on CBS this Sunday.

ACC Tourney

Just like the Big-Ten, the ACC has a quality through out the conference.  You can call UNC and Duke “heavy favorites”, but they have been beaten by lesser teams this season – aka Boston College – aka Tyrese Rice and Headband Bunch.

Clemson is experienced and should be tough,  Wake Forrest is young, talented and capable of winning whole tourney, and then you have Floria State who came out of nowhere.

Every game will be close and I would not be surprised to see any of the top seeded teams lose in their first game or see them all advance.  I know, bold prediction, but I really don’t know what to expect – see Big-Ten Jekyll and Hyde effect.

UNC needs to find PG help while Ty Lawson recovers, Duke needs Kyle Singler to learn how to shot again, if WF is going to go deep Jeff Teague must play all tourney long like he did against UNC, or James Johnson needs to live up to the hype.

Clemson is very balanced, Boston College is not, and Miami is the most frustrating team in the conference, but still could get hot and ride James McClinton for a couple wins.  North Carolina state should be better, Virginia Tech always gives Duke problems, and Virginia went “Wee, Wee, Wee all the way home“.

Side Note- If any of the Memphis Tigers games are remotely close- the C-USA tourney is on their home court -  John Calipari should have to go the rest of March without hair product.

Notre Dame has pulled back with in single digits.  So you are saying there is a chance?  No, I’m not.

Summit Championship

The North Dakota State Bison seniors have showed an amazing level of commitment.  From the moment they step on campus in Fargo, they were talented enough to play as freshmen, but instead red-shirted all for the chance to play in the big dance, to make it to March Madness.

And now that chance is here.  One more win, and they will have accomplished what everyone had only dreamed could happen.   But they will have also taken another step in making NDSU basketball relevant in the universe of college basketball.

For those of us close to the team, we have know about this team for years.  The national audience has seen glimpses of the NDSU basketball team when they shocked highly ranked Wisconsin and Marquette a couple years back.  And then gain this season when Summit League POY Ben Woodside scored 60 points.

NDSU has been known as a football school, and that team was atop the 1-AA Top-25 polls, and beat the Gophers last season, but they have not had then chance the basketball is playing for tonight.

The Bison play tonight (Tuesday) on ESPN2 at 7pm CST against Oakland to continue the journey the seniors embarked on when they signed to play for the Bison.

A couple days ago, ESPN’s Andy Katz wrote a blog post on the Bison.  Check it out here.

Side note:  I heard a rumor that the Utah Jazz had scouts at last night’s game to take a look at Woodside.

Man Crush and Basketballing

I get tired of a lot of  “radio personalities.”  Too many people talking about the same thing, with the same point of view.  It can be either local sports talk or ESPN guys, it doesn’t matter.

But the one guy who I enjoy reading and listening to is ESPN’s Bill Simmons. I have his widget on the side of my blog and I have listened to his pod casts all day and will do the same tomorrow.  Read his stuff, funny and entertaining.

I just his train of thought and insight.

Saturday is the beginning on conference tourney play.  My local heart will be backing the North Dakota State Bison, as the look to back-up the regular season Summit title with the conference tourney championship and a chance to get a seed in the tourney above 16!!  Maybe.

Side-noteIf they win the tourney, they better not get stuck in that damn play-in game!!!

The Summit tournament will be competitive, and the hopes of the Bison faithful will again fall on Ben Woodside when the Bison match up with Centenary in Sioux Falls, SD.

Woodside also won the final Summit player of the week award which should be the icing on the cake that is the POY for the Summit Conference.

I still think he should be up for POY in the NCAA’s.  Too damn good.  Just look at his stats and his teams record.  A win over USC would have helped.  The Bison will be a nice story in the NIT or the NCAA’s as they make their first postseason appearance with the first chance the have.  One for One!!

Good publicity and $$$$$$$. (I heard a million dollars for just one game in the NCAA’s and $500,000 for a single game in the NIT).

The Gophers took a step close to popping the bubble and getting in the tourney with a win over rival Wisconsin.  How crazy would it be if the Bison make it and the Gopher’s do not.

Tubby’s crew needs another win over fellow bubble-boy Michigan, to get grab onto a 7-10 seed.

P.S. – My brother won $200 at half-time of the Gophers/Badgers game when he hit a lay-up, free throw and a 3 pointer in 25 seconds.  If he could have added a half court shot – $25,000.  Oh well, $200 more than he walked in the door with.  Unless he bet someone $200 he could make all four shots.  I don’t think he is that stupid! :)