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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.