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North Dakota (0-0) at Kansas State (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, Nov. 9, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bramlage Coliseum (12,528) -- Manhattan, Kansas. Television: FSN-MW. Home Record: ND 0-0, KSU 0-0. Away Record: ND 0-0, KSU 0-0. Neutral Record: ND 0-0, KSU 0-0. Conference Record: ND 0-0, KSU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Kansas State Wildcats will kickstart the 2012-13 season tonight against the North Dakota Fighting Sioux at Bramlage Coliseum.
Kansas State has moved on from coach Frank Martin, owner of the most intense stare in college basketball, and replaced him with former Illinois coach Bruce Weber. Weber inherits a talented team, and one that has gone to the NCAA Tournament four times in the last five years. The Wildcats return four starters and a dozen letterwinners from last year's squad that finished 22-11 and advanced to the second round of The Big Dance.
North Dakota is entering its first season as a member of the Big Sky Conference. Led by seventh-year head coach Brian Jones, the Fighting Sioux are coming off back-to-back Great West Conference Tournament titles. They faced reigning Big Sky champion Montana last November and won in overtime, a victory that has served as a confidence booster entering their new league.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the hardwood.
North Dakota welcomes back four starters and six of the top seven scorers from last year's championship squad. Second-team All-GWC pick Patrick Mitchell is the lone exception, although the Fighting Sioux have plenty of other options in the fold. Junior swingman Troy Huff (13.1 ppg), the team's leading scorer the past two seasons, was an All-GWC second-team selection as a freshman and sophomore. Also returning to the backcourt are junior point guard Jamal Webb (9.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.5 apg) and junior two-guard Aaron Anderson (11.0 ppg). Webb was named the Great West Tournament MVP after averaging 15.0 points and 6.0 boards, while Anderson started all 32 games a year ago and shot an impressive 48.7 percent from beyond the arc (37-of-77). Down low, junior center Brandon Brekke roams the paint after pacing the GWC with a 68.2 field- goal percentage and posting four double-doubles.
Bruce Weber is walking into a pretty favorable situation at Kansas State. The former Illinois coach, who was hired in March to replace Martin, returns just about everyone from last season's 22-win team. What's more, Weber's in-your- face, man-to-man defense should translate well to an already tough defensive squad. But for the Wildcats to improve upon last year's win total, they'll need to step things up at the offensive end and limit turnovers. That starts with senior guard/forward Rodney McGruder, one of the premier players in the Big 12. McGruder averaged 15.8 ppg last season and he certainly has the ability to increase that number. He also averaged 5.2 rebounds and was one of only three players in the Big 12 to rank in the top-20 in both scoring and rebounding. Center Jordan Henriquez (7.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg) came on strong at the end of last season and will give the Wildcats a legitimate inside presence if he can pick up where he left off. Also back in the fold are guards Will Spradling (9.3 ppg) and Angel Rodriguez (8.3 ppg), while freshman D.J. Johnson was the leading scorer in both of K-State's exhibition games.
Both of these teams boast some talent but could take some time to adjust to new environments in 2012-13. North Dakota is entering a whole new league, while the Wildcats have a new coach with a much different style than his predecessor. This may just be a nip-and-tuck matchup for a while, but Kansas State should be able to pull away as the game progresses.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas State 71, North Dakota 59
11/09 10:36:02 ET
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