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Know Thy Enemy: North Dakota State Bison

For each of our NCAA Tournament games, and hopefully they'll be plenty, we will do a little question-and-answer segment.

However, my quest to find a beat writer for the Bison wasn't successful. I did find a Bison-friendly message board, though,, and posted a thread asking them for their responses. And while some of them were just big fat jerks, a couple others provided brilliant answers. Thanks go to Bisonville.

So, here are all of those questions and answers.

1) You guys have obviously won 17 of 18, only losing to Southern Utah. What happened in that game that caused you to lose? Just an "off" game, or did the Thunderbirds do something specific to upset you? If they did something specific, what was it?

99Bison: They shot ridiculous % and on tough shots especially. Very poor refing resulting in severe foul trouble for one of the key players. We didn't play great, but not that horribly. They made something like their last 7 shots in the game all from the outside being guarded well. We were one basket or stop away from winning, it was tough to watch the end.

Twentysix: They made the most retarded shots, I think they actually had quite the "Lucky"streak as SUU isnt very good most of the time, however the defense on them was impeccible. something like 5 semi blind hookshots fell in the last 4 or 5 was awful..

NDSU Fan_Sav: They shot very well 53-55% we shot around 46%...but towards the end they were shooting lights out.

Rest of the questions-and-answers after the break...

2) You guys clearly haven't shied away from BCS competition in recent years, and have been quite successful (W's against Marquette and Wisconsin in year's past, and only a 4-point loss to USC this year). What impact, if any, do you think that will have on Friday morning? Will the Bison be intimidated by the big, bad defending National Champions?

99Bison: Given the experience over the years of playing these and quite the spectrum of teams Bison most likely won't be intimidated. In fact, would be shocked if they were.

NDSU Fan_Sav: They will think wow we're playing KU, but we're in Minneapolis lets get em!!!

3) If Ben Woodside was on the other team, how would you defend him? Give him the shot, despite his 43% 3-point shooting, or allow him to drive, despite his FD/40 of 7.1 (Fouls Drawn per 40 minutes...his 7.1 mark is good for 16th in the country)? Or, just completely give up and let him explode, and focus on not letting anyone else go off along with Woody?

99Bison: It is somewhat a pick your poison type situation though for Woody. Also, the top 4 are all true scorers given the opportunity.


4) Who is your defensive "stopper"? Basically, who do you think will be assigned the unenviable task of guarding Sherron Collins?

99Bison: Mike Nelson. However, I'm not sure they'll start this way due to remaining matchups, I am curious about this myself.

Twentysix: [Mike] Nelson, I don't know enough about Collins to say this with 100% though, every once in awhile they put Tveidt on a guard and he royally [messes] them up on the D side.

NDSU Fan_Sav: I would say Nelson and Tveidt has stepped it up, also Moormann can do pretty good sometimes I get frustrated but he gives 100% every game.

5) Has anyone tried a zone on you guys throughout the year? If so, has it been more effective, or have your sharpshooters just been able to shoot over it?

99Bison: Yes there are a few zoners, a few years back we had troubles figuring out what to do with the zone. However the last two years playing a few more teams that play zone has worked wonders.

Twentysix: Yes, and the first zone defense we went against this year worked very well on us, after that game we seemed to have learned and appsolutely shredded the zone defense. IUPUI away game is an example.

NDSU Fan_Sav: Like they said we used to struggle with it, but things are better now...

6) How many fans would you guess make the trip down to Minneapolis? Enough to make it a homecourt advantage, of sorts?

99Bison: Yes. You probably have seen that 30k came to watch a football game in 07 and 06. There won't be 30k for this, but there will be a ton.

Twentysix: Tickets pending, I think alot of bandwagon fans will buy up singles. Despite your tradition we have geographic superiority with bandwagon fans!

NDSU Fan_Sav: More then likely we'll have a bunch there. Of i had to put a number on it, I'd say around 8-12 thousand...

7) Is everyone here a Saul Phillips fan? Assuming the answer is yes, and that he's done as good of a job as it looks from the outside, when do you think he will leave? If the answer is "never, he's committed to NDSU", that's fine, just wondering.

99Bison: Everyone is surely a fan now, he didn't have any HC experience when hired so some skepitcism has been around. However, proven himself over the past year and a half, has taken the team to a different level.

He could possibly leave for the right situation, however he does like it here very much. I personally think he's a couple years (2-3) away from having a good enough resume to get picked up by someplace he'd consider. However, there are a ton of DI basketball teams that need coaches so you never know.

8) And, finally, besides Ben Woodside, who is your next-best player?

99Bison: [Brett] Winkelman. Although on a given day any of the top 4 can look like the best.

Twentysix: Nelly, in this game because in "Big" competition games he has out performed everyone.

NDSU Fan_Sav: The whole team, they play as 1 and always together not really any selfish players


That's all for the question-and-answers. Plenty of preview content is slated to pop out sometime tomorrow, mixed in with (obviously) all of the game-watching.