*No one just waltzes into the Kohl Center and wins, especially when you're a Big Sky team and I'm not saying UND is going to beat Wisconsin tonight..but there is a chance. So you're telling me there's a chance. Yes, Mr. Christmas, although the Big Ten Network will probably refer to North Dakota as NDSU or the "Fighting Sioux" five times tonight, UND has a shot at the Badgers. Here is why-
*Veteran Leadership: UND is a veteran squad, the muscle of the team. Between Troy Huff, Aaron Anderson, Jamal Webb, Josh Schuler, the green and white should not be rattled by the Kohl Center crowd of 17,000. They have been to Madison before, losing their freshman year. They have been to the Octagon of Doom. They have seen "big time" crowds. Now they must play well in front of one.
*Newcomer Nash: This is a big night for Texas Tech transfer Jaron Nash. If I had to guess, he will be the one guarding 6-7 sophomore Sam Dekker. Dekker should be All-Big Ten this season and probably an All-American by the time he steps off the Wisconsin campus. Nash is 6-8 and athletic meaning he might be the one who is called upon to shut down the Badgers best scorer. The Waterloo East grad showcased his skills at the Betty when he threw down multiple dunks. UND needs some of those tonight. If Nash can limit Dekker and score some buckets of his own, this gives UND a great shot.
*Three Point Threat: Speaking of shots, UND has proven they can shoot the three. They need to tonight. Wisconsin has held its opponents to just 22% from long range, giving up only an average of only three long-range shots a game. The way UND is built (very guard-oriented), they need to knock down 10-plus against the Badgers. If UND shoots well, they will stay in it. If not, it could get ugly..and fast.
*Style Of Play: UND needs to play their style of basketball...the old Wooden strategy comes into play here in concentrating on what you're doing, not what the other team is doing. Wisconsin will want to play half-court all night. If they do that, Wisconsin will win by 25. If UND can get out and run, they have a great shot to keep this thing close. To do that, they will have to play good defense to force missed Wisconsin shots. Rebounds lead to fast breaks, fast breaks for UND, leads to points. UND will probably need 70 to win.
*Drive The Ball: UND is great at driving to the hoop. They need to do that well tonight. Why? They (A) Need to get to the free throw line and (B) get the 7-footer, Frank Kaminsky in foul trouble. Kaminsky is having a breakout year and has the potential to be all-conference. UND has limited numbers in the post and has to get, has to get Wisconsin in foul trouble.
This begins a brutal stretch of tough opponents for UND-Wisconsin, NDSU, the Oregon Tournament, at Butler. Uff-da! This is a great chance for coach Brian Jones to see where his team is and a nice little appetizer for NDSU!
*My prediction is in the ballpark of Wisconsin-75 UND-61.