I need to get a lot better at this whole “blogging” thing. Remember when I had all these big ideas as a newbie? Well, I apologize for them not coming to fruition… yet.
Regardless, I thought it would be apt to write a bit about Bemidji State’s big sports weekend – both men’s basketball and hockey are in action Friday, and both have a lot to play for.
The BSU basketball team travels to Rochester, Minn., Friday for the NSIC tournament semifinals. They’ll take on an Upper Iowa team that defeated them earlier this season.*
*Interestingly, all three teams that BSU played in the first three rounds of the playoffs – Wayne State, Winona State and Upper Iowa – defeated the Beavers in the regular season. I refrained from using the phrase “revenge tour” in my stories on the team last week, but that’s what these NSIC playoffs have turned into.
Also on deck this weekend the BSU hockey team hosts Minnesota in a series with big playoff implications.
Basketball team defying the odds
The Beavers defied the odds – or at least, defied NSIC coaches’ preseason predictions – by making it this far to begin with. BSU was picked to finish 12th. In fact, they were tied for 12th in the preseason poll with none other than Upper Iowa.
The Peacocks topped the Beavers 81-67 in Fayette, Iowa, back in January.
Despite the fact that Upper Iowa is 20-10 and BSU is 17-11, neither team was expected to make it this far – especially the Beavers, who lost a National Player of the Year in James Ellisor and the school’s all-time assist leader in Bryce Tesdahl.
Still, it seems like NSIC coaches severely overlooked how good the rest of BSU’s team actually is aside from Ellisor and Tesdahl. Seniors Lance Rongstad, Dremaine Crockrell and Mason Walters are all double figure scorers this year, but all three were great last season, too: Crockrell scored 12.2 ppg and grabbed 4.4 rpg, while Rongstad nearly had double figures scoring (9.9) and 4.5 rpg. Walters was more of a role player last season but has come on strong his senior year, averaging 14 ppg and nearly 8 boards a contest (7.9).
In other words: This team is good. If they had figured out ways to close out all those tight games they’d lost earlier this year, they might have been looking at a 22-6 season instead of a 17-11 one.
Instead, they will have to play their way into the NCAA tournament and earn the conference’s automatic bid. Read all about the matchups here, from the Rochester Post-Bulletin.
Hockey hosts Gophers
The Beaver hockey team, meanwhile, hosts Minnesota in a series that will not only determine where both teams end up in the WCHA playoff picture but also marks the Gophers’ last regular-season series as members of the league.
It’s also the last time the two teams will face off in Bemidji as members of the same conference. Although the Gophers have agreed to keep playing the Beavers in Bemidji on a rotating basis after this year, this series will be special for all it signifies history-wise.
I’ll have a promo piece on the series up sometime later tonight, so look out for that (I will post it here). The excellent Minnesota blog The Daily Gopher has one capsule of the series up now, so look at that.
In the meantime, I’m not going to go through all the trouble of breaking down every playoff scenario (because there about 20 of them), but BSU’s math is relativity simple: currently 11th with 17 points, the Beavers can finish either ninth, 10th or 11th when it’s all said and done. Anchorage is locked into the 12th seed.
-Finishing ninth may be out of reach – they’d need to win both games against the Gophers this weekend while also hoping that Minnesota Duluth (currently ninth) drops both games against Nebraska-Omaha AND that Michigan Tech gets no more than two points against Colorado College. I believe the Beavers own the tiebreaker over UMD, but Tech owns the tiebreaker against BSU.
-If all three teams tie at 21 points, it gets more complicated. You can read an more in-depth explanation at the Western College Hockey Blog but what I have gathered from this is that BSU would still finish 11th, Tech 10th and UMD ninth due to the various tiebreaking procedures the WCHA has not-very-clearly laid out for the masses.*
*I may be wrong on this, so if you have a different idea of what happens if the three teams tie at 21, feel free to leave it in the comments.
-If BSU fails to get four points this weekend, then no matter what UMD does, they can’t finish better than 10th. For THAT to happen, it’s a bit more simple: The Beavers need to make sure they get more points than the Huskies – but they need at least two points more than Tech due to the tiebreaker.
I’m bad at transitions on long blog posts, so that’s what you get.
If you’re a BSU fan who’d like to watch both games with your full attention, you’re in luck:
The BSU hoops game starts at 2:30 in Rochester and can be streamed online at the NSIC website. If the Beavers win, the title game begins at 5:30 against either MSU Mankato or Augustana. Also, Pioneer reporter/Illuminati fighter Alex Berg will be at the game(s) in Rochester and should be tweeting with observations from the game.
If you’re planning on attending the game, there is ticket information here from the BSU athletics office.
Meanwhile, the hockey games are set to begin at the normal times (7:37 Friday and 7:07 Saturday) and on the normal outlets (Lakeland, Beaver Radio Network, etc.) The game will also be aired on Fox Sports North.
Additionally: BSU officials are planning a whiteout at the Sanford Center this weekend. The first 500 students to the game will receive a free white T-shirt with a special whiteout design courtesy of Midcontinent Communications. More information on the promotions here.
I’m not sure how many tickets are left for this weekend… I need to ask later this afternoon.*
*My educated guess: Not many. Go ahead and quote me on that figure. It took a lot of number crunching.