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LEXINGTON, Ky.—UND has played a number of Power 5 men's basketball programs since the program went Division I in 2008. On Wednesday night, UND finally gets a chance to play one of the Blue Bloods of college basketball. The Fighting Hawks will meet No. 10 Kentucky at Rupp Arena, a 23,000-seat arena that is an icon of men's basketball. "I think it will be a good experience," said UND senior Cortez Seales. "We'll see where we're at mentally and how we'll handle things in a game like that. It's every kid's dream to play in an environment like that."
SYRACUSE, N.Y.—The start against Syracuse was exactly what UND wanted. But the middle two quarters hindered UND against the Orange on Tuesday at the Carrier Dome. No. 18 Syracuse downed UND 85-49 as the women's college basketball season began across the country. The opener didn't come against an easy opponent for UND as the Orange are coming off a 22-9 season and their sixth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
It was just an exhibition game but there were a few things that may have surprised UND women's basketball coach Travis Brewster. "The biggest thing was our toughness," said Brewster following UND's 88-39 win over Bemidji State on Sunday at The Betty. "You can't measure that in practice but as the game went on we got tougher mentally and physically." One thing that didn't surprise the UND coach was his team's speed. The Fighting Hawks played uptempo for 40 minutes.
The UND men's basketball team will join a new league this season—The Summit. The program has 11 new players on its roster. None of the 11 has played a Division I game yet. UND's road schedule isn't the easiest, either, as it includes road trips to Marquette, Northern Iowa and perennial national power Kentucky—the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country in most preseason polls. Yet, at Wednesday's media day, there was reason for optimism as the Fighting Hawks may have the most athletic group they've had in the program's Division I era.
For UND and Weber State, off the field distractions—not the opponent—may be one of the biggest challenges this week as the teams prepare for a showdown Saturday at The Alerus Center. UND—following its 41-15 win at Sacramento State—climbed back into the STATS FCS Top 25 on Monday, coming in at No. 22. Weber State, meanwhile, is ranked No. 4 this week—the highest national ranking in school history. Saturday's game carries a lot of significance for both teams.
UND is in a stretch of volleyball that perhaps feels like the postseason has arrived. The Fighting Hawks are facing some of the best teams they'll face all season. A case in point came Sunday at The Betty where Denver—the top team in the Summit League—took a 3-1 win over the Hawks before 991 fans. Denver won 25-20, 23-25, 25-17, 25-20 to improve to 5-0 in the Summit and 16-1 overall. UND dropped to 4-3 and 12-10. And it doesn't get any easier for UND as the Hawks on Tuesday will play at No. 8 Pitt—the favorite to win the ACC.
Until the final 15 minutes, UND largely was in control as the Fighting Hawks led North Dakota State 1-0. Another Summit League win was in focus. The final 15 minutes, though, was more of a blur for UND as NDSU rallied—taking a 2-1 Summit League win at East Grand Forks Senior High Field on Sunday. Hanna Norman and Malley O'Brien scored goals two minutes apart for the Bison, who improved to 3-0-0 in the Summit and 6-4-0 overall. O'Brien's game winner came at 77:44 when she knocked home a cross feed in the box.
UND was picked fifth in the preseason Summit League soccer poll, meaning the Fighting Hawks were expected to be in the mix for one of the four postseason tournament berths.
UND had to rally to take a five-set win over Oral Roberts on Friday night in a Summit League volleyball match at The Betty. The Fighting Hawks won 25-17, 28-30, 22-25, 25-18, 15-8 to improved to 3-1 in the league and 11-8 overall. Oral Roberts dropped to 0-3 and 3-12. Kayla Williams led UND with 15 kills while Jordan Vail and Ashley Brueggeman each finished with 13.
UND carried momentum into Saturday’s game against Idaho State, especially after beating No. 5 Sam Houston State last week. But Idaho State -- behind a fourth-quarter touchdown -- halted UND’s momentum, taking a 25-21 Potato Bowl win over the Hawks before more than 11,000 fans at the Alerus Center. The game also was UND’s homecoming.