Bison, UND learn dates for BracketBusterNorth Dakota State will be back on ESPN2, only this time it will be in men’s basketball rather than football.
By: Jeff Kolpack and Wayne Nelson, Forum News Service
North Dakota State will be back on ESPN2, only this time it will be in men’s basketball rather than football.
The Bison will play at the University of Akron (Ohio) on Friday, Feb. 22 as part of the ESPN BracketBuster series, a collection of 13 games made up mostly of mid-major programs hoping to impress the NCAA selection committee.
“It’s unbelievable of the national exposure we’re going to get,” said Bison head coach Saul Phillips. “ESPN2 reaches a lot of homes. We haven’t been able to get one of those BracketBuster TV games and to get it is a big step forward for our program.”
The 5 p.m. MST tipoff will be NDSU’s first ESPN appearance since playing at Iowa State in January of 2010 and first appearance on ESPN2 since the Summit League title game in 2009. The value, Phillips said, is the national stage that includes recruiting.
An email will be going out today to potential NDSU recruits notifying them of the game.
“And make sure you tune in,” Phillips said. “It gives you national credibility. It’s the difference between mid-majors that are household names and other mid-majors. TV is a big factor in that. Teams that are on TV regularly tend to raise their profile and that’s what we’re trying to get done.”
The University of North Dakota is new to this season’s ESPN Bracketbusters. North Dakota’s opponent, however, is an old foe.
UND will play at Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday, Feb. 23 during ESPN’s Bracketbusters weekend. The game is scheduled for Omaha’s Ralston Arena. The time of the game has not been determined. The game is not scheduled to be televised, but will be available to view on watchespn.com.
UND and Nebraska-Omaha were members of the former North Central Conference during their NCAA Division II days. The teams have met 88 times, the last meeting coming in March of 2008 during the NCC postseason tournament.
“We have a lot of respect for that school and the coaching staff down there,” said UND coach Brian Jones, a former UNO assistant. “I think this is a natural matchup with them being a former NCC foe and an opponent that our fans know.”
This will be the final year of the ESPN Bracketbusters. This is the 11th season of the Bracketbusters, which matches 122 mid-major Division I basketball programs from 15 conferences against each other on a weekend in February.
Both teams moved in different directions since their NCC days. UND is now in the Big Sky while Nebraska-Omaha is in the Summit League.
North Dakota is 6-6 in the league and 9-12 overall while Nebraska-Omaha, a second-year member of the Summit, is 5-7 in league play and 8-17 overall.