Sunday, December 2, 2007

Bison Looking To Exert Dominance In Border Battle

Gameday: Minnesota vs. North Dakota State
Place: Minneapolis - Williams Arena
Time: Monday - 8 p.m. CST
Television: Big Ten Network

It was just a few short months ago when the North Dakota State University Bison came into the Metrodome and demolished our Golden Gophers. The basketball Bison will enter Williams Arena Monday night with their eyes set on embarrassing Tubby Smith's Gophers and staking ownership to this border rivalry most Minnesota fans would like to pretend doesn't exist.

The Bison are now competing in the new Summit League, which was formerly known as the Mid-Continent Conference--the league that formerly served as home to Valparaiso.

A few years ago, I viewed any matchup with the Bison--football or basketball--as a free win on the schedule. It was a cupcake game, designed to boost attendance and appease our neighbors to the west. That's not the case anymore.

The football Bison whacked us this year, and if the Gopher men aren't careful Monday night, the basketball Bison could do the same. In their first game of the year, the pesky Bison put a scare into the defending natinoal champion Florida Gators. I could shrug that off because it was the Gators' first game with a lineup that didn't include Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and company. But this NDSU team returns four starters from a team that finished 20-8 last year, including a win against Tom Crean at Marquette.

Three juniors lead the way for the Bison. Ben Woodside (pictured), a 5-11 junior from Albert Lea, MN, leads the team in points (26.4), minutes (36.6) and assists (5.4). Brett Winkelman is a 6-6, 200 pound forward from Morris, MN who averages 20.9 points per game and leads the Bison in rebounding with 8.9 rebounds per game. The third junior is Mike Nelson, a 6-4 off guard from Madison, WI. Like Woodside and Winkelman, Nelson is on the court for 30 minutes per game.

Holding down the paint along with Winkelman are junior center Lucas Moormann and freshman forward Michael Tveidt. Moormann is a big boy, standing at 6-9, 250 pounts. Tveidt is the lanky variety of forward, with a 195 pound 6-7 frame.

Many Bison will have extra motivation Monday night. Woodside and Winkelman, two of NDSU's leaders, are Minnesota products. But the roster has quite a few more Minnesota natives. Freddy Coleman is a freshman guard from St. Paul. Matt Rosenberg is a junior guard from Golden Valley. Eric Carlson is a freshman forward from Shakopee. Josh Vaughan is a sophomore guard from Braham. And Sam Sussenquth is a sophomore forward from Wilmar.

My point is, this isn't your run-of-the-mill non-conference game for these Bison. Not only are they a quality opponent, but they will be coming into Minneapolis with that grudge on their shoulder the football Bison have had the last two years.

We do have this going for us: The Gophers were able to defeat a stronger Bison team last year (St. Paul native Andre Smith led in the Bison 2006-07) with Dan Monson on the sidelines. Down With Goldy would suggest that would make the Gophers a large favorite Monday night.

And if I was forced to, I'd predict a Gophers win. But for those of you looking at NDSU on the schedule and expecting a free win, I'd suggest you think otherwise. I anticipate a close game Monday night. And we'll need senior leadership--that means actual production from Tollackson and Coleman and consistency from McKenzie--if we're going to defeat that pesky western border rival.


Anonymous said...

88-56. Not THAT close.

He's THAT good.

Alex said...

Gopher teams of past wouldn't have blown this game out, which is either a good sign for this years squad, or just an embarrassing fact about previous years squads. Another excellent defensive performance, it's great seeing this teams defensive intensity.

PJS said...

Ahhh, anon 1132, use your real name (Friend of Tubby). It adds to the 'community' feel.

I agree with both of you that the blowout was a very good development. NDSU is a team that in the right circumstances could pull an upset, or at least put a scare into someone.

I'll have thoughts up on this game later, thought I'm tempted to put those off until Wednesday and cover Alex Legion's departure from UK today.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a registration but I'll ID myself in every post.

I am FOT, yes.

lonebadger said...

Nice pic of NDSU beating Bucky at home! Very subtle.

PJS said...

Ahhhh, you picked up on that, did ya lonebader! Good eye, my friend!