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NDSU, UND men's basketball series returns to two games per season

FARGO--North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota are now all in with their men's basketball scheduling after years of dipping their toes in the water during the Division I era. The schools announced Thursday, Aug. 18, the one-game-a-y...

FARGO-North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota are now all in with their men's basketball scheduling after years of dipping their toes in the water during the Division I era. The schools announced Thursday, Aug. 18, the one-game-a-year meeting will now be twice per season.

The four-year, home-and-home agreement starts this season with UND playing at NDSU on Dec. 7 and the Bison traveling to Grand Forks just nine days later on Dec. 16. It helps solve one of the toughest factors of having a Division I program in the Midwest not far from Canada: home games.

Getting schools from the Missouri Valley Conference, Mountain West Conference or any of the power five leagues to travel to North Dakota is not easy.

"Those schools are in a situation where they don't take many away non-conference games," said Bison head coach Dave Richman. "They're buying a lot of their games. You look at the Summit League, we're not quite in that position yet and that is a step we want to get to but we're not there yet."

Richman said the talks with he and UND head coach Brian Jones started about a month ago and the benefits of two games a year outweighed any negatives, he said.

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"Getting home games for us and them is tough and plus you have the convenience of the travel," Richman said.

The teams last played as Division II programs in the 2003-04 season, then took a sabbatical until 2010-11 when they renewed the series in a game at the Fargodome as Division I members. NDSU has a 4-2 edge in the D-I series with the only win by a visiting team last year when the Bison won at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

Overall, UND has a 259-132 advantage to a series that dates back to 1904-05.

"The fans of both of these programs deserve to have these types of high-energy games and our guys love playing in them," Jones said. "Our freshmen are going to get to the play the Bison at least eight times now during their careers. That's something they will always cherish."

NDSU will play in its new Scheels Center at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex this season, a renovation of the old Bison Sports Arena that began two years ago. The Bison open the facility with a Nov. 2 exhibition against Concordia College. The first regular-season opponent is Arkansas State on Nov. 11 followed two days later hosting Minnesota-Morris.

NDSU is on the road for almost a month after that until the Fighting Hawks game on Dec. 7. It's a rivalry game, although Richman says it will be another game for his team.

"You can't make it bigger than it is," he said. "If you try to make it this school against that school, then you're not playing basketball and at the very end of the day, we're playing basketball. The most important part of our season is league play and you're going to play each of those teams twice, so you're always searching through non-conference to try and prepare ourselves to where we need to be in February, late February and early March."

Related Topics: BASKETBALL
Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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