North Dakota State beat Oklahoma 80-75 in overtime on Thursday in the biggest upset of the NCAA Tournament so far.
The Bison have only been playing Division I basketball since 2007. They have made one other NCAA Tournament appearance, and hadn’t won a tournament game of any kind (Division I or Division II) since 1997.
Despite the lack of pedigree, NDSU plays with swagger.
When Lawrence Alexander drilled a tying 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, he shouted “buckets!” — a street ball idiom you find on every pick-up court in the country, but not at the NCAA Tournament.
He made the shot, fell down, got up, fell down, and then celebrated like nothing happened.
In overtime, when two NDSU players fouled out, Carlin Dupree had to come into the game. Dupree hadn’t played a minute the entire game. He’s also a freshman.
In the two minutes he played, he was the best player on the court. He drilled two free throws, and then drove to the rim for the lay-up that sealed the game:
He led the party after the game:
Their coach, Saul Phillips, sprinted over to the NDSU section of the crowd and unleashed this beauty of a celebration:
Traditionally, NCAA Cinderella teams are gritty, fundamentally-sound teams with a ton of seniors.
That could be changing. NDSU doesn’t play much defence. They’re a high-powered offence team that wants to outscore you, and have fun doing it.
Florida Gulf Coast represented a new type of underdog last year — one that played with a swagger of a 1-seed, and seemingly drew its strength from the belief that it was the best team on the court.
NDSU is continuing that tradition.
Their next game in Saturday against 4th-seeded San Diego State.
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