We are just into the early stages of fall camp, no huge news yet out for the defending champs, Craig Bohl told me tonight he continues to be impressed by Sophomore running back John Crockett, who with Sam Ojuri ailing; is getting a majority of the reps at running back. Grant Olson has returned to practice, but in a non-contact situation until all of his concussion symptoms clear. The biggest news for NDSU athletics on Monday came courtesy of the men’s basketball team, who more than likely will play the number one team in the country come November.
The Bison will match up presumed preseason number one Indiana in the opening game of the Legends Classic November 12th in Bloomington. The Legends Classic is put on by the Gazelle Group, the same group that runs the CBI, the postseason tournament that NDSU played in last March. 12 teams are invited to this tournament, four high-majors; Indiana, UCLA, Georgetown and Georgia, those four teams will all advance and play one another in Brooklyn, while the remaining 8 teams will play a round-robin with one another. For NDSU, this is the opportunity/chance you cannot pass up, a game against the number one team in the country, with presumed television exposure to come from likely the Big Ten Network with it being the opening game for the Hoosiers. Indiana had a fabulous rebound year this past season, going 27-9, making the Sweet 16 before falling to eventual champion Kentucky. Indiana was one of the few teams to beat Kentucky last season, they also knocked off the 2nd and 5th ranked teams in the country. Tom Crean, who NDSU faced and beat when he was coaching Marquette back in 2006, has led a rapid turnaround for the Hoosiers, led by perhaps the preseason player of the year in 6’11 Cody Zeller, the younger brother of Tyler Zeller, who had a great career at North Carolina. Crean also boasts one of the best recruiting classes in the country, 3 of the ESPN Top 100 players will play for IU, besides his four returning starters. It’s a strong test for the Bison men, who have played in some hostile environments; from Madison to Milwaukee to Gainesville to Southern Cal to Lubbock, Texas and Bobby Knight. This in my mind will be the toughest environment they’ve ever had to play, IU will be pumped for this game; just because it’s the opener of a season they think something special may happen. It could be that way for the Bison, who don’t forget return four starters of their own, hoping a strong non-conference schedule will get them ready for the Summit League season. Saul Phillips and Dave Richman both hinted to me on Monday that the remainder of the non-conference was sprinkled with teams that have made the NCAA Tournament. We’ll see in the coming days.
The rest of the games for NDSU will be played in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the campus of Duquesne University. The Dukes finished 16-15 last year, taking 9th in the difficult Atlantic 10, which just added Butler and VCU to an already impressive league. James Madison had a difficult season, going 12-20, finishing 8th in the Colonial, while Youngstown State becomes another member of the Horizon League that NDSU will face, the Penguins who were 16-15 last year, join Milwaukee and Green Bay as common opponents. This is a great event for the Bison to start a season that is filled with high expectations, curious to see the rest of the non-conference schedule. Also should share, NDSU DOES NOT have to play Western Michigan this year in a payback for last year’s Bracket Buster game, the schools are given two years to play the game, so there’s a good chance that the Bison will not play the Broncos until 2013-14. Also NDSU will have a NEW opponent for its Bracket Buster, and will have to play that game on the road.