We will join you at 10 pm Central as usual to discuss everything NDSU, or even the Academy Awards as they are going on too! Join us!
We’re into March and the postseason is here for the Summit League. We knew heading into last night’s game NDSU was the number one seed, but now the brackets are set on the men’s side and the Bison have a good shot at seeing Denver again on March 10th in Sioux Falls. Last night was indicative of how the season has went for NDSU, six players in double figures, from Taylor Braun to Jordan Aaberg as NDSU beat Denver 78-68. The Pioneers were outstanding from three-point range going 15 of 32, a fact that Saul Phillips was not pleased with, something he said that would be addressed in the next nine days. Here’s a look at the men’s bracket:\
- (7) IUPUI vs. (2) IPFW – 6pm
- (5) South Dakota vs. (4) Denver – 6pm
- (6) Western Illinois vs (3) SDSU – 8:30 pm
- Denver/USD winner vs (1) NDSU – 6pm
- WIU/SDSU winner vs. IUPUI/IPFW – 8:30pm
- Semifinal winners - 8pm (ESPN 2)
NDSU claimed a second Summit League men’s basketball crown in six years on Thursday night as the Bison defeated South Dakota 82-54 and in the process fulfilled one of its major preseason goals. The glamour comes in March with the postseason tournament, but to win the conference crown illustrates who the best team was during the regular season. The Bison now have locked up the top seed for the tournament and won’t play till 6pm on March 10th against the winner of the 4/5 matchup. They also have the automatic bid to the NIT cinched up, which to most that read the blog seems like small potatoes, but it is a really big deal as well, with each game being televised on ESPN.
Winning two conference crowns in the last six years may not sound all that impressive, but when stacked up against other mid-major schools NDSU fits in with some impressive company.
Conference Titles Won By Mid-Major Schools Since 2009:
- 3: Butler (2009, 2010 and 2011)
- 3: Stephen F. Austin (2009, 2013 and 2014)
- 2: Oakland (2010 and 2011)
- 2: Creighton (2009 and 2013)
- 2: Weber State (2009 and 2010)
- 2: Montana (2012 and 2013)
- 2: Valparaiso (2012 and 2013)
- 2: NDSU (2009 and 2013)
What to talk about tonight, lots happening in the past week, Bison football team finalizes schedule for 2014, men’s basketball team clinches share of Summit League title, Carolyn DeHoff has resigned as women’s coach, the wrestling team with two huge matches this weekend and Billy Turner is at the NFL Combine. All of that tonight, join us at 10pm Central!
The 2014 football schedule was wrapped up yesterday as NDSU announced it will play 12 games for the first time in school history; six at home and six on the road. Weber State raised some eyebrows from what I’ve been able to gather on the blog, but it makes sense to this reporter.
NDSU head coach Chris Klieman seems to be embracing a different scheduling philosophy of that of his predecessor and that’s not a bad thing. The Bison had racked up 44 games heading into last season, so you could understand why avoiding a 12th game made all the sense in the world. We have spoken plenty about the amount of experience that returns in 2014, but for the amount of guys that are back, there’s plenty that have not seen many reps, and that’s where actual games can help and that’s where a 12th game can be huge, especially against an opponent where you believe you can win. You can argue that playing another game makes you that more susceptible to injuries and there’s no arguing that, but on the flip side, an extra game could be the difference between making the playoffs and sitting out.
Weber State is not Eastern Washington, Delaware or Maine. The Wildcats have had three straight losing seasons, the last two with just two wins, they are now on their third coach in 22 months, John L. Smith left to take over at Arkansas after Bobby Petrino resigned, Jody Sears came in and went 4-19 and now former Utah assistant Jay Hill was hired in December. This is a program that is near the bottom of the FCS, it’s a perfect game for an NDSU team that expects to be very good, and after testing itself against a BCS school, can perhaps get a better gauge of its own team playing against a squad that has 63 scholarships. How often have I blogged about how hard it has been for NDSU to get home games over the past four years? Perhaps that’s the lost element in this scheduling announcement, as Weber comes to Fargo next season, leaving just one open date for NDSU to fill. (I’ll leave that speculation for another blog)
I don’t understand some fans reactions about avoiding full scholarship schools; would you want to stay away from Delaware State or Tennessee Tech? Or avoiding playing Big Sky or CAA teams? In my mind the FCS NEEDS more of these games. ESPN thought well enough of the NDSU-Montana game to possibly move it a week before ANYONE plays. That’s what this division needs, they need headliner games. Now where no one will argue this NDSU-Weber game will raise the profile of the division, games against the Valley-Big Sky could be huge in terms of playoff seeding when you look at the GPI. Playing games against the highest rated conferences can only help you, even if it is against teams in the lower half of that specified conference. Eastern Washington and Northern Iowa signed up to play each other in a home and home starting in 2015, Sam Houston and Eastern will finish up a home and home this year. How many were upset about Ferris State last season? The only thing that made that game appealing was the fact that wins against D2′s didn’t hurt anymore.
NDSU’s motto is “Bring On The Competition.” The schedule in 2014 is doing that and then some, the Valley will be tough as it always is, games at UNI and Missouri State at the end of the year will be a grind, but in my mind, the games at the start of the year can help a young quarterback be ready for the challenges at the end of the season. I can understand fans wanting a 7th home game, but if the Bison do what they believe they can do, fans will be enjoying playoff games at the Fargodome next December.
One note, I’m off covering the Bison for the next few days covering the North Dakota State Hockey Tournament on WDAY, Mr. Kolpack will of course have you covered for Saturday’s BSA showdown with the Jacks, I’ll return for the live blog on Sunday night.
NDSU has a showdown with SDSU on Saturday; Bison could clinch a share of the Summit League crown, plus wrestling and lots more to talk about; join us at 10!
NDSU picked up a valuable road win yesterday in Omaha, 75-59 and in the process put themselves in a good spot to clinch either the one or two seed for the upcoming Summit League Tournament. Taylor Braun may have played his best game of the season yesterday; 31 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists as the Bison pulled away early in the 2nd half and secured their first road sweep of the season; it was Braun’s 4th 30 point game of the season.
There were some interested spectators in the crowd yesterday in Omaha; Summit League commissioner Tom Douple; Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen and Ken Pomeroy took in the game. Rasmussen is a key guy on the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee; obviously wanting to get a closer look at the Bison if they happen to win the Summit League Tournament. Pomeroy is well known to all college hoops junkies for his statistical data site that perhaps is the most accurate in the country; his website is here. Pomeroy tweeted this about NDSU yesterday:
North Dakota State beats Omaha 75-59 [72 poss]. Taylor Braun with 31, 15, and 5. Bison a pesky 13-seed if they survive Summit tourney.
— Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) February 15, 2014
The conference race opened up yesterday and again because of Denver, the Pioneers fell to winless IUPUI Thursday; then they come back and beat Fort Wayne on the road on Saturday. That leaves NDSU at 9-2; SDSU at 8-3 and Fort Wayne at 7-4 and to me it looks like a two horse race for the conference title between the Bison and Jacks and as luck would have it the two play on Saturday night at the BSA. But I think it also speaks to how wild the tournament is going to be, that Denver and Fort Wayne could find themselves in Tuesday’s final just as easy as NDSU and SDSU could be. The Jacks though have to be considered the favorite with that home crowd advantage they have proven tough to beat the last two years in Sioux Falls.
Potential big day for the Bison wrestling team, they open with Chattanooga in the D1 National Duals in Columbus, Ohio this afternoon and if they win that match, they’ll go up against Minnesota in the next round. Obvious a big challenge there for NDSU, who returns to conference play this weekend with two huge matches against Wyoming and SDSU; but I’m curious to see how they fare against some of the best team in the country.
Reminder weekly LIVE chat returns tonight at 10pm here, join us then!
The trendy thing is to stop comparing this year’s Bison men’s basketball team to the 2009 squad, but for the sake of this post bare with me; as NDSU did something tonight that they haven’t done since 2009; win at Western Illinois.
It wasn’t pretty, no games ever are with WIU, and NDSU never seemed to be in a comfort zone in this one, get up by eight in the second half, then see the ‘Necks rally and make it a two point game. It was not the greatest of shooting nights for the leading field goal percentage team in the country; shooting just 40 percent, TrayVonn Wright was not good; 1-10 and just two points. Lawrence Alexander picked up the slack, he had 10 early points before notching a second foul and Taylor Braun was big when he needed to be nailing free throws down the strech. Kory Brown had two huge baskets as well, including a follow tip to put the Bison up five in what Saul Phillips called after “the biggest basket of the game.”
NDSU now sits at 19-6 and 8-2 in the Summit League and it’s starting to look like a three horse race for the number one seed. Denver lost at IUPUI on Thursday night, while IPFW and SDSU both won, so they stay just a game back of the Bison at 7-3. The Jacks go to Western on Saturday, while the Dons host Denver. NDSU will travel to Omaha for Saturday’s matchup, the Mavericks play better at home, but the Bison won handily in the first matchup. A win Saturday and with three home games left, things would certainly start to look good for NDSU to capture the number one seed.
Before I wrap up, some words on the head coach of the Bison. The next NDSU win would get them to 20; a mark of a highly successful season. It’s important to note the twenty win plateau, because it’s been 17 years since NDSU has done it in back to back seasons; the last time it happened was 1995-96 and 1996-97; in the Division 2 days under Tom Billeter, where the Bison did it four straight years. Add in the 26 win season Phillips had in 2009, that would mark three in seven years; to me that’s pretty impressive. Throw in a 16 and 17 win season and what you’ve got is one of the most successful mid-major coaches in the country. I know your resume is defined by NCAA Tourney appearances and conference titles, but look at your normal mid-majors. Those teams blow up once every five years and recede. Northern Iowa makes the Sweet 16 in 2010, haven’t made the dance since. Richmond and Ohio the past couple of years are in the same boat. I don’t count Butler, Gonzaga, Wichita State or VCU, they’re not mid-majors; A) most don’t play football and B) if you make the Elite 8 or Final 4, no way are you considered mid-major in my mind.
I know plenty of NDSU fans were worried over the past few years after the football team would beat another FBS team would Craig Bohl be whisked away and it did happen this year. I’d start watching Phillips as well, because with three 20 win seasons, 3 straight postseason appearances and possibly two of those NCAA trips, it’s highly likely someone bigger than Ball State may be calling in April. Many of his detractors will say his first trip to the dance was done with Tim Miles kids and there’s great merit to that. But he’s built a program in Fargo, North Dakota; at a clear football-first school and done it in an arena that’s forty years old and falling apart. He got his signature non-conference win over Notre Dame and who knows maybe another shot at scaring a powerhouse in March.
The NDSU men’s basketball team has taken over first place in the Summit League with just five games to go and Signing Day is in the rearview mirror, lots to chat about join us for our weekly Live Chat at 10pm Central!
NDSU took over sole possession of first place in the Summit League Saturday after a 69-58 win over Fort Wayne in front of 4,557 fans at the BSA in what was a loud and raucous environment. It was a dunk show in the second half for the Bison, TrayVonn Wright
(pictured here) had a thunderous one-hander near the end of the game that sealed it and reminded me of George Hill’s infamous one-hander in 2008 when he was here, which seems fitting since that may be the best dunk in the BSA’s history, this one will rank right up there, for the record Saul Phillips said Wright’s dunk is in the top five of TrayVonn’s dunks.On the flip side, free throws and three-point shooting continue to be an issue for NDSU; the Bison after not making a three Thursday against IUPUI, went 5 of 19 on Saturday, which isn’t great, but it’s a step in the right direction. Free throw shooting though was again not good just 12 of 20 and eventually that’s going to catch up to the Bison in a game and won’t be able to overcome. Wright said postgame it’s a mental deal and “just can’t let it become more of an issue than what it is.”
What is an issue for Bison opponents is Kory Brown. The sophomore is starting to blossom, he had a terrific two games at home, Thursday he goes for 10 points and five rebounds against IUPUI, he was even better Saturday against IPFW, a true stat-stuffer, 13 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals, he was terrific in all facets of the game and has become another threat to score, not just a defensive stopper. The Bison have five games remaining in the regular season, three at home, two on the road, NDSU plays at Western Illinois and Omaha next weekend, a tough road trip, NDSU hasn’t won in Macomb since December of 2009, and Omaha is a totally different team at home than they are on the road. The Bison have first for now, we’ll see how long they hang on to it.