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.
Yeah, Bison can dance. Coaches included. pic.twitter.com/nhPZE7cfER
— NDSU Basketball (@NDSUmbb) December 12, 2013
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.