Let’s Rank ‘Em

It all started with a tweet after the game of where this win ranked for the NDSU men’s basketball team after knocking off Notre Dame 73-69. By far this is the biggest win for this class of seniors for Saul Phillips, which has come close so many times in recent years, losing at the buzzer to Arizona State, the struggles at Williams Arena, Kansas State, USC, Wichita State, Oregon in OT and Akron. Here’s my unofficial list, biggest wins in Bison hoops in the Division 1 era.


1. 2009 Summit League Championship – March 10, 2009: NDSU 66, Oakland 64 – It’s known as “The Game” by Bison fans, a moment that people ask where you were for it For the record, I was snowed in at WDAY, editing highlights and then surprise-anchoring when our live truck went down, but that’s another story. Ben Woodside’s last second shot to beat the Grizzlies was as memorable as it gets, the storming of the court, and the spotlight that came to Fargo wasn’t seen again until College Gameday came here in September. That win sent NDSU to the NCAA Tournament where they nearly knocked off 3rd seeded Kansas.

2. January 21, 2006: NDSU 62, Wisconsin 55 – The “Miracle In Madison”, where NDSU and Tim Miles became known nationwide after the sophomore “Fab Four” went into the Kohl Center, a place where the Badgers had won 68 of their last 71 and beat Wisconsin. Again Woodside was terrific, scoring 24 points, the Bison outrebounded Wisconsin 46-39 and found themselves on ESPN for maybe the first time as a D1 team, the only reason I write that, I was in New York still at that time, and I clearly remember the Bison highlights being featured after the win at Wisconsin.

3. December 2, 2006: NDSU 64, (8) Marquette 60 – Some will quibble between 2 and 3 on this list, but everyone tends to overlook the win at Marquette. The Bison knocked off Tom Crean’s team thanks to Andre Smith, who tweeted tonight that “Marshall Bjorklund may be the best big man in NDSU history.” Smith himself was really really good, scoring 26 points and grabbing 6 boards, he was named to the All-Tournament team, Mr. Wisconsin himself Mike Nelson was the tourney MVP and gave Tim Miles a 2nd signature win and a ticket to Fort Collins.

4. December 11, 2013: NDSU 73, Notre Dame 69 – This win will go down as the best for the group of seniors that Saul Phillips has solely recruited, that is unless NDSU makes the NCAA Tournament this season. Phillips teams have come so close even this season, think of St. Mary’s and Southern Mississippi at the BSA last month. Marshall Bjorklund was terrific, 11 of 14 from the field for 26 points, he’s given the Bison a big presence that the 2009 team lacked. Lawrence Alexander played “Woodside-esque” with 16 points and 14 rebounds and TrayVonn Wright showed the country what kind of athleticism you can get to Fargo, all done in front of a national TV audience, unlike numbers 2 and 3.

5. February 28, 2009: NDSU 75, Oral Roberts 72 – This may get overlooked because of the Oakland game, but believe me Saul Phillips will remember it. NDSU went to Tulsa needing a win to clinch the top seed for the Summit League Tournament and knocked off the Golden Eagles, a team that had won 35 straight conference games at home. Woodside was sensational, 29 points, his main-man, Brett Winkelman went for 21 points and gave NDSU its first outright conference title since 1981.

You can go ahead and debate my selections, but that’s my thoughts on the top five NDSU men’s basketball wins in the D-1 era.


33 thoughts on “Let’s Rank ‘Em

  1. I 100% agree with the order and the games you selected. NDSU has had some great wins, but really has had some big games in loses too.
    K State at home in 2006, Kansas in the NCCA Dance, Woodsides epic game scoring 60 and setting NCAA record vs SFA, and this team itself playing against a lot of high majors but not being able to close it out.

  2. You lost to UND by almost 20. Beating Notre Dame is one accomplishment, but don’t count on being in the big dance without winning the conference championship.

  3. Oh Realist you are a buzz kill. It was a great game and great win. What conference is UND in again???

  4. Totally different team since that UND loss and for those who we’re doubting Saul this was a great win for him he has made some adjustments since then. Now I’m not saying we will win Sat, but I’m thinking Saul’s group will make some people take notice. Who would of thought the record be 7-3 after the UND loss especially with the 2 trips to the west and now the east trip. Let’s go and knock off a #2.

  5. Let’s put it this way, beating the Bison is UND’s signature win of the Season, NDSU has bigger dreams than having to schedule the worthless team up north.

  6. Great win for Saul and these young men. They needed to finally get over that hump and beat a high major and now they have done it. This will be a tremendous confidence booster going forward. That first big win is the toughest to get and now they can use this when they play those big games towards the end of the season. GO BISON!!!

  7. Great list, Dom. I might argue that 3 and 4 are interchangeable since last night’s game was on national cable and gives some great exposure/recruiting punch that the Marquette win didn’t have. And this win also helps the case that NDSU is more than just a one hit wonder.

  8. This was NDSU’s Super Bowl. And Notre Dame wasn’t trying. Similar situation as the game played up north, and this was the reasoning I heard after that game So, this win is irrelevant. Next question.

    • Hey Jim, I would think that the #3 ranked The Ohio State game on Saturday would be NDSU’s super bowl, not little o Notre Dame. Or the Summit League Championship game in March would be NDSU’s super bowl.

      NDSU’s super bowl is much differenct than the school up north. Yes, it was _ND’s super bowl when they beat the Bison, just look at the records of the teams since then.

      • Very true, Red River. I’m just using Bison-logic to explain away victories and losses. I fully expect NDSU to dominate Ohio State, possibly by 25 points or more, as the Buckeyes will refuse to try and it will be NDSU’s 2nd Superbowl in only a matter of days.

        • you can never look at one game as a measuring stick of how good or bad a team is. Is NDSU better than UND? Not in the game they last played. However, if you look at how they do over the course of the year we will find out.

          My belief is that NDSU is a better team but didn’t play well against UND. We will find out if that is true as the season progresses. If NDSU continues to play well and UND continues to lose to teams it should beat we will have enough data to make a clear determination.

  9. Great win on the road against Notre Dame, but I am not sure if it is saying much for the program that the “biggest win[] in Bison hoops in the Division I era” (last seven years) only includes one playoff/tournament win.
    Notre Dame is a great football school and has had some basketball success but the real test will come in Columbus against a good Division I team. Saturday’s game will be the real measuring stick on where this program is at in Division I basketball.

    • Ya right, the Bison just beat an ACC team on their home court. The best basketball conference in the USA. Notre Dame was picked to finish 5th in the ACC, a guaranteed tournament berth. This was a real test on national TV.

      The Ohio State game is another story. This game will be similar to a NDSU & UND football game this year, a blowout. Two very different talent levels between the two teams.

      • ACC by affiliation. But it’s not like this Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina blue blood ACC. I thought this was a winnable game last year after I saw them get boat raced by Iowa State in the Dance, and Bjorklund might face tougher interior defenses in the Summit than he did last night.

          • I’m not all that impressed because I really wasn’t surprised to be honest. We’ve got a senior laden team, great post presence which played to their weakness, and I think Notre Dame has been kind of mediocre the year or so. It’s a good win but I can’t put this right up next to Wisconsin, Marquette, or even beating Oakland for the Summit Title. If this is the signature win of of this season it will be a pretty disappointing year because it will have meant they failed to make the Dance. More than puffing out our chests and celebrating, I think the bigger thing is they finally finished one of these games. They’ve been on the brink before. Maybe this helps them finish the rest of the year.

    • 31 NCAA tourney appearances; No. 2 seed in 2011; “has had some basketball success …….” C’mon, BT, you can do better than this !!

    • Don’t forget that the NDSU Division I era is only about 5 years old. Considering that, it IS one of the biggest wins in the Division I era, and there’s absolutely no shame in celebrating that.

    • not really OSU is number 3 in the land and a national title contender. how is that a measuring stick?

      • A measuring stick as to how good the Bison are compared to the best in the country. Beating Notre Dame in basketball is like beating Kansas State or Minnesota in football… not the best programs.

  10. It’s a good win but people are trying a little too hard to compare this to the glory wins/Fab 3 era. Short of winning in the NCAA Tournament nothing will ever come close to what happened at Wisconsin and Marquette. That team was only just removed from D2 with freshman and sophomores against highly ranked teams and this one has been established D1 for a while now with a ton of seniors against an unranked team. I’d put it at 5 at best right now depending on how the rest of the year plays out. If last night was the signature win for this group it will be a disappointing year at the end.

    Not that this team doesn’t need or deserve promotion. Fargo still seems slow to embrace this team and they’ll need a hefty following in Sioux Falls in March to win that tournament. Some of that’s football still being in full effect to be fair though. Last night is the kind of balance they need to win it, but the UND effort still has me worried they might fall far to easily back into the “Everybody pass the ball to Taylor and watch him” kind of offense. It’s one thing to go into a non-conference game against an opponent who, to them, we are just another random team that’s supposed to be filler on the schedule. To get the Summit regular season title and then tourney they’ll go to places like UND that will be hornets nest more amped up specifically to beat NDSU as a conference rival. And between the way great guard play has had a tendency to break the Bison down (Wolters last year, Huff this year)….this team is far from a lock to Dance even after wins like last night. Ohio State will be a decent barometer.

    • Reality – I think we all agree that there is much more work for the Bison to do this year. This is a great win so far – for the current Bison players’ career and this season. We’re not counting our chip just yet. We’re not crowning the Bison “Kings of the Mid-Majors” or anything. We’re just happy that they beat Notre Dame.

  11. NDSU beat the REAL UND last night. So please ignore the trolls from naia land.The order is missing KANSAS METRODOME game. That’s #3 for me, there was 10000 NDSU fans standing and screaming the whole game with woody scoring on almost every possession.At SDSU when nate zastrow made all those fts at the end was pretty fun to witness as well.2010-2012 was 3 years of blaaaahhhhh.

  12. “obvious” I think you are making a list of the biggest losses! You rank a loss as the #3 win in NDSU division I history?!?!? Brilliant!

    • @Bigtime; you’re forgetting to use Bison-logic…..it’s a very complicated system of homerism that only the most blinded, clouded, homeristic minds can follow.

  13. Maybe ND was a warm up game. They will have to stay out of foul trouble for OSU. I don’t think we have had a game yet where everyone is clicking. What was the deal that Felt didn’t play much (injury?).

Comments are closed.