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North Dakota State Preview

State Farm Champions Classic Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

North Dakota’s 4-year glorified community college visits Lawrence this weekend to see what an actual school looks like. No one before has ever cared about NDSU and no one ever will again, but we can pretend to care about the basketball team a little bit for these purposes.

The Bison haven’t won yet, losing games at Nevada, Nebraska, and Creighton, and they’ve looked ugly doing it. They came into the season as Summit League favorites, but after shooting just 35.6 percent from two and 25 percent from three over their first three games, pundits might be asking for a refund. NDSU’s adjusted offensive efficiency is under a point per game, and without a ton of athleticism on the perimeter it’s tough to see how they’ll score too much Saturday either, especially considering they do not take a ton of threes.

Defensively, the Bison have struggled a bit as well. Opponents are shooting 53 percent from two, and getting a ton of shots up as NDSU is 269th in the nation at forcing turnovers. They’re also 238th nationally in allowing 3-point attempts. Without a true big man inside, it will be curious to see whether Dave Richman elects to single cover David McCormack and live with the results, or if he doubles inside and lives with the results from the perimeter.

Players to Watch

Rocky Kreuser, 6-10 senior forward

Kreuser, despite being 6-10, has taken more threes than twos in his career, shooting 34 percent from three and over 50 percent from two. He’ll certainly be a tough cover for whoever KU has in the middle, and it should be a good test for Jalen Wilson when he is out there. The one hole in Kreuser’s game is his propensity to foul, and both Wilson and McCormack are drawing more than 7 fouls per 40 minutes so far this season.

Boden Skunberg, 6-5 freshman guard

The Jamestown native shamed his family and his state by going to NDSU rather than the far more prestigious University of North Dakota.

Grant Nelson, 6-10 freshman forward

Ditto for the Devils Lake native.

The Pick

Not only is Kansas a much better team than NDSU, they have the ability to shut down the only couple things NDSU does well. KU can also take advantage of NDSU’s best offensive player on the other end of the floor, which will provide about as many problems for Bison fans as being told you can’t date a family member. I’ll take the Jayhawks to win and cover, 84-61.

2020-21 record ATS: 2-1