- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota State made the NCAA tournament in its first year of eligibility, just like it planned.

Of course, now the Bison have to play defending national champion Kansas.

The Bison received the No. 14 seed in the Midwest Regional and drew the No. 3-seeded Kansas Jayhawks, the defending national champions. The game will be played about 210 miles away in Minneapolis.

“I know that Kansas travels pretty well, but we’ll have a head start on them,” NDSU head coach Saul Phillips said Sunday, after a selection show party at the Bison Sports Arena.

“Wow, they’re a great team,” Bison center Lucas Moorman said. “But it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m glad it’s close to home.”

Hundreds of fans flocked to the arena to watch the show on a big screen TV built into the scoreboard above the basketball floor. Phillips warmed up the crowd by calling it the biggest party in Fargo history.

“Let’s get this done,” Phillips said. “This is as spectacular as it gets. Playing the defending champions.”

The Bison won their NCAA berth by beating Oakland on Ben Woodside’s shot with 3 seconds left for the Summit League championship

Sunday’s crowd began buzzing when Kansas was announced as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest, because NDSU was anticipating a No. 13 or 14 seed. “My heart was pounding up there at that time,” Woodside said.

The players, who were seated on the stage, stood and cheered when NDSU was placed on the bracket.

“It was exciting. I felt like crying,” said Susilo Poromarto, an NDSU graduate student from Indonesia.

Bison assistant coach David Richman said he was impressed by the turnout, but not surprised. NDSU has a history of athletic success is several sports, but nothing compares to the NCAA tournament, he said.

“There’s nothing like this from a national standpoint,” he said. “We’re just naive enough to go in there and take a shot at winning,” Richman said. “We’ve been playing the underdog role pretty well so far.”

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