North Dakota State (24-9) at Western Michigan (20-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 20, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: University Arena (5,421) -- Kalamazoo, Michigan. Television: None. CBI Record: North Dakota State 0-0, Western Michigan 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The sixth annual College Basketball Invitational continues on Wednesday, as the Western Michigan Broncos host the North Dakota State Bison in Kalamazoo.
NDSU, which has been a member of Division I for only a short time, finished third in the Summit League standings with a record of 12-4 and was 24-9 overall. The squad took care of both UMKC and Western Illinois during the conference tournament, but bowed to top-seeded South Dakota State in the title game last week by a score of 73-67.
As for the Broncos, now into the postseason for the fourth time in the last decade, they are appearing in the CBI for the first time, just like NDSU. A member of the Mid-American Conference, WMU finished in a tie for first place in the West Division with Toledo at 10-6 and was the only team in the division to log at least 20 overall victories. The Broncos thumped Eastern Michigan during the MAC Tournament by 15 points but was then topped by Ohio University, 74-63 on Friday in the semifinals.
According to WMU sources, this will be the third game ever between the two programs, with them having split their first two encounters. The first battle took place during the 1956-57 campaign with the Broncos claiming a 79-57 win at home and the last season the Bison delivered an 86-73 victory in Fargo as part of the annual BracketBuster event.
The winner of this game will be back in action next Monday versus Wyoming, which defeated Lehigh in the first round on Tuesday night by a score of 67-66.
One of the most accurate shooters in the entire nation, Marshall Bjorklund earned a spot on the All-Summit First Team for his efforts and now enters this portion of the campaign with 67.3 percent precision as he scores 11.6 ppg. Also a positive for Bjorklund is his 6.0 rpg which paces the program, but not so much his 56.8 percent effort at the free-throw line. Taylor Braun was first on the unit with 15.7 ppg and also accounted for 5.1 rpg, enough to earn him a spot on the All-Summit Second Team along with Lawrence Alexander (10.6 ppg) who managed to hand out a team-high 123 assists which was also twice as many as all but one of his teammates.
The Broncos are buoyed by four double-digit scorers these days, although none is netting more than 13.0 ppg (Shayne Whittington) who is shooting 50.2 percent from the floor and has also done more than his fair share of damage at the free-throw line where he is 77.6 percent accurate. On a team that has beaten the competition by almost five rebounds per game, Whittington has dominated in that department with his 9.0 rpg, followed by Darius Paul who not only accounts for 5.8 rpg, he is also second in scoring with 10.9 ppg. Davis Brown has been adding 10.5 ppg as a reserve and Nate Hutcheson another 10.3 ppg to go with 4.8 rpg.
Holding opponents to just 55.6 ppg, the Bison are consistently competitive and should be able to build upon their win from last year's meeting against Western Michigan.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 64, Western Michigan 60
03/20 10:33:14 ET