"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, September 30, 2019

North Dakota State Preview

North Dakota State Bison
December 20, fiserv.forum

Coach: Dave Richman (96-67)
3-Year NCAA Rank Average: 181.0
3-Year kenpom Average: 181.7
2019-20 T-Rank Projection: 142

Projected Starters: PG Vinnie Shahid (5'11" Sr), SG Jared Samuelson (6'3" Sr), SF Tyree Eady (6'5" So), PF Tyson Ward (6'6" Sr), C Rocky Kreuser (6'10" Jr)

Last year the Bison came into the Summit League Tournament as the hunter. After a 15-15 regular season earned them the league's 4-seed, they capitalized when the top seed South Dakota State lost in the first round. Wins over Oral Roberts and surprising Western Illinois gave them a relatively easy road to the final, where they dominated the first half and coasted to a win and NCAA berth as they defeated Nebraska-Omaha. Their run continued as the won a First Four game in Dayton and played close to overall top-seed Duke in the first half before the Blue Devils put the screws to them in the second half.

Now the Bison go from hunter to hunted. T-Rank has them as the favorites in the Summit as they return five starters all but one key contributor. Shahid and Ward are the stars, the top two scorers, and also lead the team in assists and rebounding, respectively. They present a unique threat as all five starters had at least 24 three-point makes and all shot at least 32.0% from beyond the arc. The Bison bring back experience, talent, and more depth than anyone else in their league. They are going to be a threat to return to the NCAA Tournament and are, on paper, the best buy game opponent Marquette will face this year, albeit by a narrow margin.

What makes the Bison effective is their offense. They were top 100 in eFG%, 3PFG%, 2PFG%, FT%, and literally every player on the roster can to hit the three. They play at a deliberate pace and take and make a lot of threes. This shortens the game and maximizes their ppp. They also are exceptional at not turning the ball over. All of their returning players had a turnover rate under 20%; for comparison sake, Marquette had 5 rotation players with a 20+% turnover rate last year. On defense, they will speed you up while trying to control the offensive glass and keeping opponents off the free throw line. However they are a poor shot defending team. Effective offensive teams are their kryptonite. They lost their first 12 games against kenpom top-150 offenses and finished the season just 2-13. When the Bison can be scrappy and run their offense, they win, but when they have to keep up with teams that can also score, they are in trouble.

The Bison showed promise last year and the table is set for them to win their league and return to the NCAA Tournament. In 5 seasons, Dave Richman has 4 campaigns with 19+ wins and should be confident his team can repeat that feat this year. Marquette has made a habit of having marquee buy games in recent years, and while North Dakota State is not on par with Buffalo or Vermont, this is a high-ceiling team that should be a Quadrant 3 opportunity.

Marquette Connection: This game will be a Minnesota reunion game. Both Vinnie Shahid and Sacar Anim played with the same Howard Pulley AAU team. On the high school side, Theo John's senior year at Champlin Park saw him face off against both Rocky Kreuser's Totino-Grace and Jarius Cook's Park Center teams (John's team won both contests). It will be a North Star showdown at the Fiserv Form.

No comments: