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SALT LAKE CITY -- UND said it wouldn’t change its game against No. 2 seed Arizona. The Fighting Hawks stayed true to their word -- and their fast-paced style of play worked early on during their first-round NCAA Tournament game against Arizona on Thursday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena. But Arizona stayed true to its game plan, too. And that was a problem for the Hawks, who came in as the No.
SALT LAKE CITY—As a No. 15 seed, the UND Fighting Hawks are well aware the odds aren't favorable tonight when they take on No. 2 seed Arizona in a first-round NCAA Tournament game at the Vivint Smart Home Arena. Arizona, with two 7-footers in the starting lineup, is a national power many believe will make the Final Four. UND, meanwhile, is a mid-major program making the Dance for the first time and a team many believe is just happy to be here. The Hawks, however, don't believe that and they embrace—actually enjoy—the underdog role.
SALT LAKE CITY—On a bright, sunny Wednesday afternoon in Salt Lake City, where the temperature approached a record 75 degrees, UND players entered the 20,000-seat Vivint Smart Home Arena wearing smiles and feeling confident. All was well with the UND men's basketball team. And it should be. The Fighting Hawks, in their ninth Division I season, have reached the ultimate goal in college basketball—the NCAA Tournament. It's March Madness, a spectacle that has become one of the country's biggest sporting events each year.
SALT LAKE CITY—If UND's first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament felt like a dream, reality is beginning to set in for the Fighting Hawks. The Fighting Hawks' charter landed late Tuesday afternoon in Salt Lake City, where No. 15 seed UND will take on No. 2 seed Arizona on Thursday night in a first-round NCAA Tournament game at 20,000-seat Vivint Smart Home Arena. After grabbing a quick bite to eat, the Hawks went into a film session at their hotel before going through a mini walk-through in their designated team meeting room.
UND will play a familiar foe in the opening round of the WNIT. The Fighting Hawks will play at South Dakota on Thursday in an opening-round game. Pairings for the WNIT were released Monday night. The winner of Thursday's game will face either Iowa or Missouri State in a second-round tournament game. "We're playing an old NCC foe and it's a preview of the the matchups will have in the Summit League," said UND coach Travis Brewster. UND is scheduled to leave the Big Sky Conference for the Summit League after next season.
As a high school basketball player, UND coach Brian Jones still remembers his first recruiting letter. "My first letter as a high school athlete was from Arizona," said Jones. "I've been an Arizona fan since I've been a kid." Jones didn't play at Arizona but he now gets the chance to coach against the Wildcats on Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. "I guess things have come full circle," said the UND coach.
RENO, Nev.—UND is going Dancing. UND won the biggest game in its men's basketball history Saturday night, staging a furious second-half rally to down Weber State 93-89 in overtime in the championship game of the Big Sky Conference tournament at Reno Events Center. The win qualifies UND for its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. UND, the regular-season champion, trailed by 10 points with 8 minutes to play. But the Hawks rallied, led by tournament MVP Quinton Hooker, who scored 28 points to lead the way.
RENO, Nev.—Montana State downed Idaho State 62-56 in the championship game of the Big Sky Conference women's basketball tournament Saturday. That was good news for UND since the Fighting Hawks now will receive a bid to play in the WNIT. Montana State and UND shared the regular-season Big Sky title. That gave Montana State the No. 1 seed in the Big Sky tournament. The WNIT takes regular-season league champions that do not advance to the NCAA Tournament. Had Montana State lost, the Bobcats would have received the WNIT bid.
RENO, Nev.—For the second night in a row, UND started fast—blowing out to a 21-7 lead in the first seven minutes. Early on, the Fighting Hawks played a level that looked unbeatable in the Big Sky Conference men's basketball tournament. But the postseason has a way of leveling the field. Idaho proved that in Friday night's Big Sky semifinal game.
RENO, Nev.—UND held on to beat Idaho 69-64 on Friday night in the semifinal round of the Big Sky Conference men's basketball tournament. The win advances UND into Saturday night's championship game against either Weber State or Eastern Washington. UND received 16 points from Geno Crandall and Corey Baldwin. UND improved to 21-9.