Name: University of North Dakota
Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota
I’m not even going to try to pretend that I actually know where that is. About 80 miles north of Fargo, directly along the Minnesota/North Dakota border. In fact, there’s an East Grand Forks that is actually in Minnesota on the other side of the Red River. Grand Forks is actually equidistant between Fargo and the US/Canada border.
Enrollment: 14,648, with 11,255 undergraduates
What’s notable about the school? In addition to having the only law and medicine schools in the state, UND’s School of Aerospace Sciences was the first college/school in the country to offer a degree in unmanned aircraft systems operations, and that sounds super badass. Building/designing computers to fly airplanes and (presumably) spacecraft? That’s awesome.
Nickname: Fighting Hawks
Why “Fighting Hawks?” Yeah, I’m not touching that.
Doesn’t their logo look an awful lot like Notre Dame’s? It used to, albeit with different colors and more obvious overlapping, back when UND did not have an athletics nickname. Now that they’re the Fighting Hawks, they have a completely different logo.
Notable Alumni: Pulitzer Prize winners Maxwell Anderson and Mel Ruder; Mark Chipman, primary owner of the Winnipeg Jets; Andrew Freeman, inventor of the engine block heater (seems very important for North Dakota); Ronald Davies, the federal judge that ordered the integration of Little Rock Central High School; writer Chuck Klosterman; Irv Kupcinet, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and award winning talk show host; David Charles Jones, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; a slew of athletes, including NHL players Ed Belfour, TJ Oshie, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, and Jonathan Toews, and finally, Phil Jackson, 13-time NBA champion, with two titles as a player and 11 as a head coach.
Last Season: 12-20, with a 6-12 record in the Big Sky Conference
This Season: 6-5, with just two Division 1 wins. Weirdly, both of those wins are against UW-Milwaukee.
Wait, they played and beat UWM twice? Yep. Once in Milwaukee on November 10th (63-60) and once in Grand Forks on December 9th (83-72). Probably a bit of a bummer that they couldn’t save a buck by only traveling to Milwaukee once this season, but that’s how the cookie crumbles.
So they have four non-D1 wins? Who are the losses against? All Division 1 foes: Kentucky, Utah Valley, Montana State, Idaho, and UT Rio Grande Valley. All but the Idaho game were away games. The closest margin was against Utah Valley, a 74-68 defeat.
Current KenPom Ranking: #279, down from #238 to start the season.
KenPom Projection: 12-17, with a 6-10 record in the Summit League.
Summit League?? Didn’t you just say they were in the Big Sky? Sure did! They’re in the Summit League now. This is just their 10th season at the Division 1 level, and this is ostensibly a step up for UND.
Points: Cortez Seales, 14.2 ppg
Rebounds: Filip Rebraca, 6.9 rpg
Assists: Cortez Seales, 2.9 apg
Consistency? For whatever reason, UND has just three guys who have started every game. Cortez Seales (14/4/3), Conner Avants (11/6/2), and Billy Brown (8/3/2) have been on the floor for the opening tip every time out. They have two other guys who have played in every game, but no one else has started more than seven times in 11 games this season. At least it’s not as weird as whatever’s going on with New Mexico’s starting lineups.
Bigs? No one that should particularly worry Marquette. Kienan Walter, Filip Rebraca, and Marko Coudreau all stand 6’9”, even with Theo John. However, John weighs in at 240 pounds, and the heaviest of the UND trio is Coudreau at 220. He’s a freshman and has played just two minutes in North Dakota’s last four games. Walter and Rebraca are both quality rebounders with Rebraca nearly cracking the top 100 in defensive rebounding rate on KenPom.com, but between John, Ed Morrow, Matt Heldt, and Joey Hauser, the Golden Eagles should be able to use their physical advantage to solve that problem.
Shooters? Well, kind of.
Aanen Moody is hoisting between six and seven attempts per game and he’s shooting 39.1% on the year. However, in seven games against D1 opponents, the 6’3” Moody is shooting just 31.9% on 47 attempts. Junior Billy Brown seems to be a crack shot at 46.7%, but he’s attempting fewer than three per game. His shooting percentage goes all the way up to 50% against D1 teams, but again: fewer than three attempts per game. I’m guessing that the coaching staff is reluctant to scheme for him to get more shots as he shot just 33% last year and just 23% as a freshman. No one else is a serious threat to let it fly, although Davids Atelbauers and Jal Bijiek have decent numbers in limited minutes as freshmen.
Head Coach: Brian Jones, who is in his 13th season as a head coach, all of which have been at UND. He started there when it was still a Division 2 program, and led them into first the Great West Conference as they began the move to D1 in 2008-09, then the Big Sky in 2012-13. He has an overall record of 184-202, and has brought the Fighting Hawks to six postseason appearances: five in the CIT and one in the NCAA tournament. All six ended up in first round exits.
All-Time Series: Marquette is 5-0 against North Dakota, but only one of those games has taken place after 1963. In that game, Derrick Wilson carried Marquette to a 67-54 victory on the strength of a 15 point, nine rebound, six assist performance, including a dagger three-pointer with a minute to play.