North Dakota State Bison: 18-15, 9-7 in the Summit League
Head Coach: David Richman (4th season)
Key Players: Vinnie Shahid (12.8 PPG, .839 FT%); Tyson Ward (12.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG); Deng Geu (9.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG)
Season Recap: In a conference expected to bring the return of South Dakota State superstar Mike Daum to March Madness, the Jackrabbits' Bison rivals were happy to take their tournament spot after they were upset early in their conference tourney. Although North Dakota State didn’t beat its southern rivals this year, it challenged itself early with games against Iowa State and Gonzaga, losing the latter by 42. The Bison were the third seed in the Summit League thanks to taking care of all the inferior teams in the conference, despite going 1-4 against the top two seeds.
Although somewhat inexperienced, they have good size across the board and don’t rely on any one person to do most of the scoring, with eight players averaging between six and 13 points per contest. North Dakota State also plays disciplined defense, ranking 26th in the country in fewest total fouls on the season.
How they make a run: The Bison's supplementary shooters knock down their open looks and apply some pressure to a top seed.
How they falter: They don’t take enough time on their possessions and rush shots early, leading to a big deficit that can't be overcome.