The 2016-17 Big Sky Champs come to Lincoln
University of North Dakota Preview
Date: Sunday, November 19th
Time: 1:00 pm CST
Fighting Sioux Hawks
Coach: Brian Jones (12th year)
2016-17 Record: 22-10 (14-4 Big Sky Conference)
2017-18 Record: 2-1 (0-0 Big Sky Conference)
The Hawks were the Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament champions in 2016-17. In doing so they received the conferences automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and making it the first time North Dakota had made it to the dance. Their season ended with a 100-82 loss to #4 Arizona.
North Dakota will be without last year leading scorer Quinton Hooker but still have a good amount of their talent from last year. They are currently picked to finish in the middle of the conference this season but most admit they should contend for the championship again. This is an uptempo team that will push Nebraska early on and will do whatever they can to take advantage of any mistakes the Huskers will have.
They have started out the season 2-1. They opened things up playing in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic in Hawaii. The first game they had a close 83-80 win over Troy. Two days later they lost to Hawaii 78-81 and on the final day they beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 80-71. Some nice wins but Nebraska looks to be their first true test of the season.
Leading the Hawks is Geno Crandall who was an all Big Sky Conference first team member. the 6’4” junior guard is averaging 27.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 3.3 apg. All while shooting 64% from the floor, 78% from the line, and 64% from beyond the arch. If the Husker do not shut him down early then it very well could be a rough afternoon.
Cortez Seals is another guard that can score for the Hawks. He is averaging 13.3 ppg and 3.7 rpg. He had a big game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff with 22 points and 6 rebounds that helped solidify the win for North Dakota.
Also worth mentioning is Conner Avants. He is their 6’7” forward who is averaging 9 points and 7 rebounds per game. While he does not have the size, he should give Jordy some trouble in the paint as the game goes on.
This is a good Big Sky team who return a lot of good players from last years championship team. They are young but are quick and have the ability to score and score a lot. If Nebraska does not pull themselves back up from the St. John’s loss then it could very well be a long afternoon for the big red. Coach Jones has built himself a very nice squad that can play and beat average teams. If Nebraska can bring themselves back to playing like a team then it should be a quick game. However, if Nebraska starts out flat I can see North Dakota taking the lead and not giving it back.
As of now, lets go with the University of Nebraska 73 University of North Dakota 65.