Watch out for Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are headed to the NCAA tournament for the second-straight season after knocking off South Alabama 64-56 to claim the Sun Belt tournament title.
WKU advanced to the second round last season by upsetting Drake, and could make a deeper run this season.
Last year’s star Courtney Lee is now in the NBA, but the Hilltoppers have terrific balance and a tremendous group of guards. Orlando Mendez-Valdez leads the way. He can score inside and out and is also a terrific passer. A.J. Slaughter was a role player last season but has really emerged this season.
Western Kentucky will likely be a 12 seed. Early season victories over then No. 3 Louisville and Southern Illinois make the Hilltoppers an attractive Cinderella team.
North Dakota wins Summit League behind Woodside
Ben Woodside sent the Bison to the NCAA tournament by hitting a jumper with 3 seconds remaining to give NDSU a 66-64 win over Oakland (Michigan).
North Dakota State has enjoyed its first season in D-1, blasting through the woeful Summit League with a 16-2 record.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know anything about NDSU. I’ve heard of Woodside, who scored 60 points earlier this season against Stephen F. Austin. But I thought it was still called the Fighting Sioux. Go figure.
Brief research has revealed the Bison/Sioux lack a quality win during non-conference, although it hung close during road games against Minnesota and USC.
I don’t expect much from NDSU. Sorry Bismarck. Or Fargo.