Tuesday, March 18, 2014

North Dakota State

I've been catching up on the conference tournament championship games this week and the NDSU Bison from the Summit League are one of the teams that have jumped out at me. They are a 12 seed in the West bracket, playing OU in the first round.

Their starting five:

PG - Lawrence Alexander (6'3 180) - Average athlete, plays a Mario Chalmers role on this team. Stretches the floor, looks for his own shot and can make plays for others, but not a primary playmaker.

SG - Kory Brown (6'4 200) - Excellent athlete but can't shoot. He's plays around the basket, slashes to the rim and grabs offensive boards. Gives them a wing stopper on the perimeter - athletic enough to play at a high-major school.

SF - Taylor Braun (6'7 210) - Point forward. A very versatile player who gets 18/5.5/4 a night. He initiates a lot of the offense - he's a master at the hockey assist, driving into the lane than making the pass that leads to the pass. Not a great athlete, but a very savvy player whom they hide on defense.

PF - TrayVonn Wright (6'7 185) - Show-stopper. Check out this guy's dunks:

Not only that - he can shoot 3's too! He gets 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks a game. In the championship game against IPFW, he went for 19/4/2. Wright is going to get at least one monster dunk against OU - there's no way around it.

C - Marshall Bjorklund (6'8 250) - Undersized big man with a fundamentally sound post-up game. Not a great rim protector or interior defender - depends on Wright to help him out there.

Bjorklund, Wright and Braun are seniors, Alexander is a junior and Brown is a sophomore. They even bring in a decent senior big man (6'9 225 Jordan Aeberg) off the bench. NDSU has shooters, athletes and a 6'7 guy run offense through.

Given the right match-up, NDSU could upset a higher-seeded team and OU could be that match-up. The Sooners aren't very big - they are a 4-out team with a 6'8 5 man (Ryan Spangler) and a 6'7 combo forward (Cameron Clark) at the 4. NDSU is just as big as them, which makes the upset much more realistic. I'm always leery of high-major teams that don't have a lot of size because that's what separates the high majors from the low majors. Everyone has good perimeter players.

With Braun throwing oops to Wright and Brown, NDSU could be this year's FGCU. They would even play the same second-round team - San Diego State - but the Aztecs are a better team this season.

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