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UND BASKETBALL: Rivalry game highlights men's schedule

UND men's basketball coach Brian Jones sat in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center Tuesday night and took in the environment of the North Dakota State-Sioux volleyball match.

UND men's basketball coach Brian Jones sat in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center Tuesday night and took in the environment of the North Dakota State-Sioux volleyball match.

"The excitement and energy was tremendous," Jones said. "Whether it was volleyball or basketball or whatever, it was electric. That home court was crucial."

It's an atmosphere the Sioux men's basketball team is looking forward to recreating when the Bison visit UND on Jan. 17 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The rivalry matchup highlighted UND's 29-game schedule, which was released by the school Friday. The women's schedule, which opens at home against 2010 postseason participants Creighton, Idaho and Duquesne, was also released.

UND and NDSU renewed their men's basketball rivalry last season in Fargo, where the Bison won 81-55.

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NDSU hasn't played men's basketball in Grand Forks since 2004.

The Sioux also renew a regional rivalry with former North Central Conference member South Dakota State. The Sioux visit the Jackrabbits on Dec. 10, then host SDSU on Dec. 15.

UND also hosts two Big Sky Conference teams -- Idaho State on Nov. 14 and Montana on Nov. 23. The Sioux join the Big Sky beginning in 2012.

"Next year, when we get to the Big Sky, we don't want to be feeling our way," Jones said. "We want to compete for a title, and we want to compete for the upper half of the league. With 11 teams, it's going to be an outstanding league."

Apart from the graduation of Chris Clausen, the Sioux return their entire team from a year ago. The Sioux also have added three true freshmen.

"I think they're not resting on what they did last year," Jones said. "I've been impressed with their mindset in weights and conditioning. They really understand that what they did last year doesn't mean a whole lot right now."

Jones said his team is also looking forward to the team's two guarantee games -- New Mexico on Jan. 7 and Kansas on Dec. 31.

"Sometimes, due to NCAA stipulations put on us through the transition and not being able to qualify for the NCAA tournament, you can instead put the guys in environments that are special," Jones said. "Some guys don't know much about The Pit (in Albuquerque, N.M.), but basketball fans know not many go in there and get wins."

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The Sioux women's team will also play in unique environments, including Colorado State, Missouri and Air Force. UND also hosts Northern Iowa, a team the Sioux haven't played since 1978.

The women's schedule features six opponents that qualified for postseason tournaments.

"We try to play as good of a schedule as we can," UND women's basketball coach Gene Roebuck said. "With the Big Sky in our future, we can be a little more selective in choosing our non-conference schedule. Right now, in the position where we are at with only six teams in the Great West Conference, we have to play a lot of games in November and December. We try to piece in what we can those first two months, and it can make things pretty hectic."

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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