Introducing Cinderella: North Dakota State upends Omaha to claim Summit title

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When South Dakota State inexplicably became the first top-seed ever in the Summit League tournament to lose to an eight seed as the Jacks did last week, suddenly the conference’s automatic NCAA bid became a free-for-all.

North Dakota State just went and got it.

The fourth-seeded Bison upended No. 2 Omaha, 73-63, in Sioux Falls in book its trip to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015, coach Dave Richman’s first season at the helm.

Vinnie Shahid scored 21 points to lead NDSU while Tyson Ward had 15 points and seven rebounds and Cameron Hunter scored 12 off the bench. The Bison led by as many as 14 points, but saw that lead disappear when Omaha knotted things with just under 9 minutes to play. Shahid, though, connected on a 3 to kickstart a 9-0 Bison run that would prove to be the difference.

For Omaha, it’s the second time in three years its fallen in the Summit League title game as the recently-christened Division I program continues to look for its first NCAA tournament appearance in program history. Mitch Hahn had 16 points and seven rebounds while Matt Pile had 12 and 14 in the losing effort.

CONFERENCE: Summit

COACH: Dave Richman

RECORD: 18-15, 9-7 Summit

RATINGS:

  • KENPOM: 207
  • NET: 225

PROJECTED SEED: Given the Bison were only the fourth-best team in the Summit League, there’s a good chance they’ll have one of the weaker resumes in the field. They’re likely headed toward a 16 seed this weekend.

NAMES YOU NEED TO KNOW: Vinnie Shahid is the Bison’s best player, averaging 12.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the floor and 36.3 percent from beyond the arc. Jared Samuelson doesn’t accumulate a ton of stats, but he’s ultra-efficient.

BIG WINS, BAD LOSSES: There isn’t really a win on NDSU’s resume that would qualify as “big” other than the one they earned Tuesday night that clinched an NCAA tournament spot. Bad losses? There’s a couple of those, like Incarnate Word (KenPom 345), Denver (312) and South Dakota (230).

STATS YOU NEED TO KNOW:The Bison are Me. Thod. Ic. al. That spells methodical, if it was a little confusing. They rank 330th nationally in average offensive possession length at 19.1 seconds. When they do pull the trigger, though, they’ll fire away from 3-point range as 48.3 percent of their overall attempts come from beyond the arc. Defensively, they keep teams off the line, but that’s about the extent of their strengths on that end.

HOW DO I KNOW YOU?: Do you live in Fargo? Then you definitely know Dave Richman. Maybe you’ve seen him at a Hornbacher’s grocery store, the Chili’s at the mall or a game at the Fargodome sometime over the last 20 years or so. Richman is a 2002 graduate of NDSU and has been a graduate assistant, assistant, associate head coach and now is in his fifth-year helming the Bison. So you’ve probably seen him around town.

FINAL THOUGHT: North Dakota State had lost three of four heading into the postseason, so this run to the NCAA tournament is a welcome surprise in Fargo, but the win against the Mavericks is overwhelmingly likely the last one of the season for the Bison.