Wednesday’s hot links

bisontodayFor the second straight season, NDSU is headed to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.





They Will Dance Again…Bison PostGame Show vs SDSU

North Dakota State will dance again. NDSU held on for a 57-56 win over South Dakota State to claim the Summit League Tournament Championship Tuesday night in Sioux Falls. Lawrence Alexander paced the Bison with 25 points, he hit two huge three pointers to help NDSU build its largest lead of the game at 51-42.

SDSU put a comeback together, rallying to get within 57-56. Alexander missed the front end of the one and one and Deondre Parks had a chance to win it, but missed a three at the buzzer, giving the Bison a second straight NCAA berth.

The Bison were picked to finish 5th in the Summit League in October. What a job by Dave Richman and his staff. Jeff and Jody will break it down, the Selection Show comes up on Sunday at 5pm and we’ll see where NDSU will go, that will be the fun of the next few days!

The Fight for First

NDSU’s men’s basketball team continues to rack up the wins at home, taking care of IUPUI last night 57-48, despite falling behind 9-2, you can watch highlights of the game here. With the win, the Bison moved back into a first place tie with SDSU at 11-3 in the Summit League, each with two games remaining, while Fort Wayne and Oral Roberts have faint hopes of making the top two. Here’s what everyone has left:

SDSU: 11-3 (Saturday vs Oral Roberts, next Saturday at USD)

NDSU: 11-3 (Saturday vs Fort Wayne, Thursday at Oral Roberts)

Fort Wayne: 8-5 (Saturday at NDSU, Thursday vs Omaha, next Saturday vs WIU)

Oral Roberts: 8-5 (Saturday at ORU, Thursday vs NDSU, next Sat. vs Denver)

It’s this simple, if NDSU and SDSU win on Saturday that means they will clinch no worse than the two seed for the Summit League Tournament, which is huge since that gives you the extra day off from the quarters to the semifinals. A win tomorrow for the Bison is anything but a foregone conclusion since the Mastodons are the hottest team in the league, winners of seven straight, they haven’t lost in a month, January 21st. I know I had a couple of people ask me about the tiebreaker procedure if the top two teams are tied, here it is straight from the Summit League:

Tiebreaker Procedures
Tiebreaker procedures shall be used ONLY to determine seeds for the League tournament. Regular season standings shall stand.

If there are multiple ties, the ties shall be broken in descending order. (i.e., a tie at the #1 position will be broken before any others).
Once a tie is broken using the procedures below, it shall remain broken for purposes of all future comparisons.
Two-team Tiebreaking Criteria. The following criteria should be applied (in order) to break ties between two teams:
Results of head-to-head competition between the two tied teams.
Comparison of each tied team’s record against the team occupying the highest position in the standings continuing down through the standings until a team gains an advantage.
When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, use each team’s record against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tie-breaking procedure) rather than the performance against individual tied teams.
If a tie still cannot be broken after applying criteria (1), (2) and (3), it will be broken by comparing each tied team’s RPI (based upon the Report issued on the morning following the last regular season League game).
Multiple-Team Tiebreaking Criteria. The following criteria should be applied to break ties between more than two teams:
Results of each tied team’s collective record against the other teams tied for the same position.
If multiple ties still remain, then each tied team’s record shall be compared to the team or group (if 2 or more are tied) occupying the highest position in the standings continuing down through the standings until a team gains an advantage.
If the above results in two teams remaining, the two-team tiebreaker is used.
If a tie involving three or more teams still cannot be broken after applying criteria (1) and (2), it will be broken by comparing each tied team’s RPI (based upon the Report issued on the morning following the last regular season League game.)

Media Blog PostGame Show vs SDSU – FCS Playoffs

It was another classic game Saturday at the Fargodome to add to the likes of Georgia Southern in 2012, UNI in 2013 and Sam Houston State in 2007. The Bison rallied in the final minute as Carson Wentz connected with true freshman receiver RJ Urzendowski on a 12 yard touchdown to complete a 27-24 comeback win over SDSU. Join Jeff, Big E and me as we break down a thrilling game at the dome.

DISCLAIMER: Due to NCAA and ESPN regulations, we are NOT allowed to show highlights on the video blog.

Friday’s hot links

Ready for the spotlight

I was doing a little digging for a story I was working on for the WDAY Sports on Thursday and came up with this nugget. The last core of linebackers to start a playoff game for NDSU that didn’t include Travis Beck? 2010 at Eastern Washington; it was Brandon Jemison, Preston Evans and Matt Andeson. A lot has changed since then, but Beck will not be out there on Saturday against SDSU. Instead the responsibility falls to true sophomore Nick DeLuca; who has played plenty this season and says he’s ready for the workload.

Some final thoughts on the bracket

Well we can put bracketology to bed for another year, the 24 team was revealed on Sunday morning with a few surprises, for the record the Media Blog team accurately predicted 23 out of 24 teams. Safe to say NDSU fans and followers of the division were a bit surprised when they saw New Hampshire grab the top overall seed and not NDSU, especially when Robert Hill, the chairman of the FCS playoff committee said on the selection show that they valued UNH going unbeaten thru the breadth of the season after losing the season opener more than NDSU’s FBS win over Iowa State, then losing its third to last game of the season against UNI. That logic seems faulty to me, but the important thing for NDSU was to be the 1 or 2 seed and that’s what they got for the fourth straight year, the ability to play at home throughout the playoffs without having to leave Fargo.

Could NDSU get another crack at SDSU in the playoffs? (Photo courtesy: Carrie Snyder – Forum of Fargo-Moorhead)

If you look at NDSU’s side of the bracket; there are some familiar faces for sure, starting with SDSU and Coastal Carolina, but Sam Houston State is there, along with James Madison and Morgan State, past Bison opponents. NDSU fans may not know a lot about Villanova or Jacksonville State, but these are quality teams, the Gamecocks won two playoff games last year and their only loss this season was to Michigan State. Frankly, the hottest team east of Northern Iowa in the FCS is JMU, the Dukes have won seven straight and quarterback Vad Lee has been tearing defenses up left and right. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Dukes win two games or more this playoff year.

As for the top half; New Hampshire may have received the top seed, but they got placed with some impressive teams. Illinois State and Northern Iowa are each in the Wildcats bracket, but one of them will be knocked out by the time they’d be UNH. Also thrown in is Eastern Washington, the Eagles are guaranteed to play at least two home games and then would have to go on the road where they are a completely different team off the red turf.

The committee did break precedent this year, for the first time since 2003 taking a team with five losses into the field. Indiana State grabbed the fifth bid out of the Missouri Valley (a record for the league) and they can thank their tough non-conference schedule as a big reason why. The Sycamores played two FBS schools and won one of those games (Ball State) then beat Liberty (that win made better thanks to the Flames beating Coastal Carolina yesterday) and of course the win over UNI. Two wins over two playoff teams and a FBS win is hard to ignore on the resume. Our thoughts yesterday was with Bethune-Cookman’s eight FCS wins (including a FBS win) was the tiebreaker to put them in over Indiana State. For the Missouri Valley, this is the first step towards some national recognition, getting five teams into the playoffs is a great accomplishment and a reflection of a 23-1 non-conference record vs FCS teams. The next step is playoff success; besides NDSU, there hasn’t been any. The Valley teams have a combined 4-4 record since 2011 (just UNI and SDSU) with just one team making the quarterfinals. The problem with the bracket though is there’s a possibility of two intra-Valley matchups in the second round, meaning two will be sent home early.

The biggest complaint may come from the Southland offices in Frisco, where two of its teams will play each other in the FIRST round. SE Louisiana and Sam Houston did not play during the regular season, so that’s why they were paired against each other now. Can’t believe Southland commish Tom Burnett is happy about that, especially with his league hosting the championship game.

The first round games should provide some great action, SDSU-Montana State and Eastern Kentucky-Indiana State intrigue me. As for the Bison, they have proven over the past few years that they can handle the Jacks, Zach Zenner had his best career running day this season versus NDSU, but then Carson Wentz had a monster day rushing. Austin Sumner was playing his first game back from breaking bones in his foot, he’s looked sharp  in the three games since then. As for Montana State, the Bobcats are not coming in off their best performance, committing seven turnovers in the Brawl of the Wild game, but also played without dual threat QB Dakota Prukop and running back Shawn Johnson, both who are still questionable for this week’s game against the Jacks.

One thing is for certain; we are guaranteed some great drama on this road, can’t wait for it begin on Saturday.

Media Blog PostGame Show vs South Dakota State

North Dakota State trailed at halftime for the first time since last October on Saturday, but it didn’t faze the three-time defending FCS champions. Carson Wentz led a dominant rushing attack as the junior quarterback ran for 100 yards and a touchdown, John Crockett went for 152 yards and two touchdowns and the Bison beat South Dakota 37-17. It’s the sixth straight win in this series for NDSU, fifth consecutive time they have claimed the Dakota Marker. Kyle Emanuel had the best game of his Bison career, racking up four sacks and ten tackles as NDSU won a 33rd straight game and improved to 9-0 on the season and 5-0 in the Missouri Valley. Dom Izzo, Jeff Kolpack and Eric Peterson have more on the game in the Media Blog PostGame Show.

Sunday Updates

Saul Phillips and his Bison basketball team scored an impressive road win yesterday at South Dakota State, 85-77, Taylor Braun was terrific, living up to his Summit League preseason player of the year accolades, scoring 30 points.

Taylor Braun scored 30 points yesterday in leading NDSU to an 85-77 win at SDSU.

Braun as many will remember did not play in this game last year after the injury to his foot, and he played like a redshirt senior; answering SDSU baskets with points of his own; reminiscent of Ben Woodside in his final game in Brookings in 2009. Marshall Bjorklund was solid as well chipping in 19, the Bison shot 56 percent from the field, which is fantastic on the road. NDSU won in Brookings for the first time since December of 2010 and has started off its three game road gauntlet with a nice win, with trips still coming to Vermillion and Denver on Thursday and Saturday. Here’s Jeff’s recap from yesterday’s game and Kevin Schnepf on the correlation of this team and the 2009 NCAA Tourney team.

I’m sure many were watching the Senior Bowl yesterday to see Billy Turner play and he did get quite a few reps, most at right tackle, as I tweeted last night, most scouts and GM’s don’t even stay for the game, the real work is put in during the week in practice and for everything we’ve posted and seen from scouts, Turner seems to have helped himself with his week of practice, but as many point out there is still some work to do. The next step for Turner is the NFL Combine that starts February 19th in Indianapolis.

Plenty of tweets last night after the news that Grand View, Missouri cornerback Ryon’e Winters tweeted that he had verbally committed to the University of Wyoming. Winters as many know had verballed to NDSU two weeks ago on his visit here, but told Jeff that he still intended to keep his visit to Laramie. This is quote from Winters in Jeff’s story on the 13th: “When other schools started calling, none of them topped NDSU. Coach Bohl went to Wyoming and he called me to let me know Wyoming is FBS. That’s I-A football and that’s a little bigger, so that’s a plus.” For those saying isn’t this is a violation of Bohl’s contract with NDSU, technically no, the Winters visit to Laramie was setup before he verballed to NDSU, only verbal commitments were off the table for Bohl and his staff. This is a unique situation for everyone involved, but remember a verbal commitment is just that. There’s nothing binding to it and while many players that originally verbal end up signing, this is the definition of a “soft verbal” and many players go this exact route, and while this may be new to us that cover FCS up close, remember this happens at least twenty times more on the FBS level.

One last note, interesting tidbit from Charley Waters in the St. Paul Pioneer Press yesterday, who wrote a source told him that former Gophers quarterback Phillip Nelson is visiting Rutgers today, and says NDSU, Southern Illinois and Texas Tech are other possible destinations for the Mankato native. Hard to imagine NDSU on that list, especially since Nelson cited a reason for leaving the Gophers was to show off his arm in the passing game and we know that’s not the offense the Bison run. On the flip side, Nelson would not have to sit out if he goes to an FCS school, only for FBS teams.

Sunday live chat returns at 10pm tonight if we’re swept away by today’s blizzard!

Bison PostGame Show at SDSU

It was an impressive day all around in Brookings, by the crowd, it was a record showing by SDSU and the NDSU fans, and the Bison defense was sensational, -32 yards rushing for SDSU, Zach Zenner goes for just 4 yards on 8 carries. Grant Olson was tremendous, 8 tackles and 2 sacks and the Bison win their 14th straight road game and in the process pitch a 2nd straight shutout, first time that’s happened since 1987. Join Big E, Jeff and me as we break down the game and look ahead to Northern Iowa.