ND vs. North Dakota State

NCAA Tournament Primer: North Dakota State Bison

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Get to know all of the NCAA Tournament’s automatic bids here.

Conference: Summit League

Coach: Saul Phillips

Record: 25-6 (12-2 Summit League)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 56
– RPI: 38
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding?: Likely 12 seed

Names you need to know: Taylor Braun, 6-foot-7 senior forward (18.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.7 spg), Marshall Bjorklund, 6-foot-8 senior center (13.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.4 apg), TrayVonn Wright, 6-foot-7 senior forward (11.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Lawrence Alexander, 6-foot-3 junior guard (11.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.7 apg)

Stats you need to know: The Bison led the nation in field goal percent at just a shade under 51 percent from the field. Senior center Marshall Bjorklund was top-ten in the nation — for the second consecutive season — by shooting 63 percent from the field.

Tendencies: As you can tell by their nation-leading field goal percentage, the Bison take good shots and they want to work the ball inside-out by getting Bjorklund post touches. On kick-outs, Braun, Alexander and senior reserve guard Mike Felt all shot 40 percent from the three-point line during the season.

Big wins, bad losses: The Bison had a solid road win over Notre Dame while the Fighting Irish still had Jerian Grant and they also knocked off CAA champs Delaware by 19 points. The only “bad” loss for North Dakota State came when they were handily beaten by in-state rival North Dakota in the fifth game of the season. The Bison also lost to St. Mary’s, Southern Miss and Ohio State on the road.

How’d they get here?: The Bison smoked Denver, 83-48, in the Summit League semifinals and held off IPFW, 60-57, in the finals.

Outlook: Would you wanna face the senior-laden Bison as a five seed? I know I wouldn’t. North Dakota State takes enough good shots and has enough scoring firepower to compete with nearly any team in the country. This team is good enough to win a game or two in the NCAA Tournament and will be one of the trendier upset picks in the field.

How do I know you?: The Bison made the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and as a 14 seed and gave No. 3 seed Kansas a heck of a scare as senior Ben Woodside scored 37 points in the loss.

Top-25 guard trims list to six

Trae Young , Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images
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One of the top points guards in the Class of 2017 has trimmed his list of potential collegiate destinations to six.

Trae Young, a consensus top-25 recruit, listed Texas Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Oklahoma State and Kentucky as the schools he is considering as he readies to begin his senior year of high school.

The list of the 6-foot-2 point guard is largely provincial as it includes Oklahoma, whose campus is just minutes away from Young’s Norman North High School, and fellow in-state school Oklahoma. Another pair of Big 12 schools make the list in powerhouse Kansas and the Red Raiders, whose first-year coach, Chris Beard, has spent the bulk of his career working in Texas. Texas Tech is also Young’s father’s alma mater. Washington has been on a role sending its players to the pros and recently received the commitment of top-five 2017 recruit Michael Porter, Jr.

Kentucky, of course, needs no explanation as to its attractiveness to high-level players.

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

Brad Brownell
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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 12.41.16 PM
Kentucky Sports Radio
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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.