COLUMBIA, S.C. (Valley News Live) - You can make a pretty good case for Friday's basketball game to be the highest profile game in North Dakota State history.
There's no putting it lightly, the Bison are in for a tall test when they take on top-seeded Duke.
The Blue Devils are in their 24th consecutive NCAA tournament and are number one all-time in winning percentage in the tournament and third in wins. Take tradition out of it, Duke also has the number one player in the country and the projected top draft pick this year in freshman Zion Williamson. The 6 feet 7 inch, 285-pound forward has made history in the ACC this year, but the Bison have seen the best in college basketball before, Rocky Kreuser pointing to Arizona's Deandre Ayton last year.
"With how talented he was and with how talented Zion Williamson is, they are going to make some plays, obviously. So I think you got to play your hardest out there, defend the best you possibly can, but they are definitely going to make pays with how talented they are. Whenever they do make those plays we have to have the best next action in mind and try to just move on from it," said Kreuser, NDSU forward.
"Zion is a really good player, but at the end of the game it's a team game. Cant put one guy out there and beat five guys, that's how we look at it. So it's a five-on-five game, everybody's going to contribute in some way. Just have to look at it that way," said Vinnie Shahid, NDSU guard.
For all the attention Duke is getting in this year's tournament, the Bison have theirs.
"North Dakota State is a championship team. They won the summit league, that's different when you're playing a championship level team, so they know how to win. They've been in pressure situations, and they've been in that moment, and they'll have that moment again tomorrow. We respect that," said Mike Krzyzewski, Duke head coach.
Valley News Live's Beth Hoole had the chance to ask Krzyzewski if he ever misses not being able to be the underdog, to play like you've got nothing to lose with that desperation and emotion. He challenged her, asking why she thought they don't each game, explaining how he tries to instill in his teams that mentality of an underdog because he says that feeling is how you win basketball games. And winning with it, is how you sustain excellence.
It's nearly game day and the Bison are knocking on the door of history.
Friday's game starts at 6:10 p.m. CDT.