Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Meet The North Dakota State Bison
Last night, North Dakota State defeated Oakland in the Summit League Championhip. They also did something that hasn't been done in about 40 years: lock up a spot in the NCAA Tournament in their first year of eligibility (the last team was Long Beach St. in the 70s if you're curious). NDSU just recently made the jump from D-2 to D-1 and has made plenty of noise since doing so. Their first act was nearly defeating Minnesota in a football game in the Metrodome, which was loaded with a surprising amount of Bison fans. The next year, NDSU avenged this loss and defeated the Gophers. The noise didn't stop with the football team, NDSU's basketball team upset a ranked Wisconsin team as well as a ranked Marquette team. It was clear they were ready to compete at the Division 1 level, they just had to wait 4 years to be postseason eligible because of NCAA rules. Well they finally got their shot and wasted no time on their path to March Madness.
In a game which NDSU looked out of sync the entire first half and even the beginning of the second half, the Bison turned it up on Oakland and the Grizzlies couldn't keep up. Ben Woodside sealed the deal with a clutch jumper, with about 3 seconds left Oakland had enough time to get a shot off to win it and I gotta admit..I thought it was going in. Thankfully it clanked off the rim and the Bison secured their first trip to the Big Dance in their first year of eligibility. Maybe they'll be wearing glass slippers soon too? Don't be surprised if they make some noise in the tourney, as they've shown they can compete with the big boys.
In a state that mostly cares about hockey and football, NDSU has done a great job of making basketball relevant. Phil Jackson's from North Dakota and still no one cared about basketball; hopefully that can begin to change. If NDSU can continue the winning tradition and with UND transitioning to D-1, North Dakota sports may begin receiving more national attention, though I would argue that UND's Fighting Sioux hockey team has long been nationally relevant and one of the nation's powerhouses.
I wish NDSU all the luck in the world and hope they make a run for it all next week.
uhh.. careful there guys, that's not an injury anyone wants right now.