Men's basketball ready to fight the Sioux
GREELEY -- Northern Colorado men's basketball will finish its nonconference schedule tonight with a game that will serve as a look at the past and a preview of the future.
The Bears (15-10, 10-3 Big Sky) take on North Dakota (13-12, 5-3 Great West) at 7:05 p.m. in Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion in a contest that features old North Central Conference rivals and future Big Sky foes.
The Fighting Sioux were a charter member of the NCC in 1921 and played in the league until 2008, when it began the NCAA Division I reclassification process. The Bears played in the NCC from 1978 until 2003, when it began the same process.
North Dakota will join the Big Sky in summer 2012 and begin play in the league the following academic year.
Tonight's game will be the 59th meeting between the two schools and the 25th in Greeley. The Sioux lead the all-time series 40-18, while the Bears own a 13-11 edge at home.
- Game 26: Northern Colorado (15-10; 10-3 Big Sky) vs. North Dakota (13-12, 5-3 Great West)
- When: 7:05 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21
- Where: Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion (2,972)
- Coaches: The Bears' B.J. Hill (15-10; 10-3 Big Sky) vs. the Fighting Sioux's Brian Jones (63-79; 10-10 Great West)
- All-time series: Both teams battled annually in the old North Central Conference, and North Dakota leads 40-18. UNC is 13-11 in Greeley.
- TV: none
- Radio: KFKA-AM 1310
- Live stream: www.b2tv.com
- Live stats: www.uncbears.com
THE BEARS BASICS
- Northern Colorado is ranked No. 121 in the latest NCAA RPI report, coming in only behind Big Sky team Montana (113). Weber State (136) and Northern Arizona (171) are the only other league teams in the top 200. Montana State comes in at 271.
- Northern Colorado is ranked 7th in the country in team free-throw percentage in 2010-11 and it also ranks in the national top 50 in three-point field-goal percentage (24), rebounding margin (25) and 3-pointers made per game (42).
- The Bears are 33-4 over the last two seasons when leading at the half, including a 12-2 mark in that situation this season.
- Northern Colorado senior Devon Beitzel has 30 of his last 32 free-throws and enters Monday's game as the nation's 10th-best free throw shooter at 90.8 percent on the year. Mississippi's Chris Warren (94.3) leads the country in free-throw shooting.
- Beitzel is the Big Sky's best scorer through the Bears' 25 games this season (20.2). He entered the season having averaged no higher than 14.3 points per game in a season (last season).
- Northern Colorado redshirt-senior Chris Kaba is the Big Sky's fifth-best three-point shooter through the Bears' 25 games, pouring in long balls at a 44.3 percent clip. He also ranks 15th in the country in the category. Teammate Elliott Lloyd ranks seventh in the Big Sky (43.3) in the category and 19th in the country.
- At 1,037 all-time victories (107 seasons) Northern Colorado basketball is the second-winningest program in school history (NC baseball has 1,423).
LOOKING BACK AND LOOKING AHEAD
- Monday's game will provide Big Sky fans a chance to see an old conference rival that will soon be a new conference rival.
- North Dakota, which played in the North Central Conference with Northern Colorado from 1978 to 2003, will join the Big Sky Conference in the summer of 2012 in time to participate as a full member during the 2012-13 academic year. The Fighting Sioux got their first taste of Big Sky play this season when they earned a 64-60 home win against Sacramento State at home.
HOLD THAT MIKE
- The Northern Colorado athletic department had plans on retiring fomer star Mike Higgins' No. 55 jersey number on Monday during halftime of the Bears' game against North Dakota. But Higgins, wanting his teammates to be present for the ceremony, requested that the retirement event be held next year.
- No date has yet been selected for the ceremony, but it figures to be early in the Bears' nonconference home schedule.
- Higgins played at Northern Colorado from 1985-89 and sits at the top of the program's career scoring list with 2,112 points.
BEITZEL KEEPS CHOMPING AWAY AT NC RECORD BOOK
- Northern Colorado senior Devon Beitzel is nearing the end of one of the best careers in school history, and he's got his sights set on a few more Division I program records.
- He's nearing the Division I mark for total points scored (45 behind Will Figures' mark of 549), points per game average (he's at 20.2, nearly four more than Figures' 16.6 in 2009-10) and single-season free throw percentage (he's at 90.8; Figures made 87.8 percent of his free throws last season.
- Beitzel already owns Division I program records in field-goals made in a game (12), free throws made in a game (15), free throws without a miss in a single game (12), consecutive free throws made (35) and steals in a season (52) and now
SOME BRACKET RACKET
- Taylor Montgomery drew a charge with four seconds remaining Saturday Feb. 19, and Chris Kaba hit a free throw a second later to lift Northern Colorado past New Mexico State 82-80 in a Sears ESPN BracketBusters win at the Pan American Center.
- The win was the Bears' first in the annual ESPN even and dropped New Mexico State to 5-1 all-time in BracketBusters games. All nine Big Sky teams participated in BracketBusters this year, and the league finished 4-5, with Idaho State, Portland State and Northern Arizona joining Northern Colorado in the win column.
- As part of the BracketBusters agreement, Northern Colorado will host New Mexico State in Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion in one of the next two seasons, prior to Dec. 31, 2012, in a non-BracketBusters game.
- The Bears' victory against NMSU improved them to 3-1 all-time against the Aggies and 3-0 against WAC teams over the last two season and 8-15 all-time against WAC teams.
THE 'BUTLER' DOES IT
- Northern Colorado is building quite an impressive home-court advantage at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
- The Bears are 9-0 at home this season, 22-2 in Greeley over the past two seasons and 32-6 at home since 2008.
- Northern Colorado is also an impressive 102 games over .500 (273-171) since it began playing in Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion (then Butler-Hancock Hall) in 1974.
MORE THREES, PLEASE!
- Northern Colorado senior Devon Beitzel enters Monday night with 208 made career 3-pointers, making him just the 12th player in Big Sky history with 200 or more career made 3-pointers.
- Beitzel is tied for 10th on the league's all-time three-point field goals made list with Montana's Ryan Staudacher (2006-10). He trails Idaho State's David Schroeder (2002-07; 211) for ninth and is in range of Montana's Matt Martin (2005-08; 214) and Kevin Criswell (2002-06; 218). Sacramento State's Loren Leath (2005-09) is sixth in league history with 240 made 3-pointers.
- Northern Arizona's Ross Land (1996-200) is the Big Sky's leading all-time three-point shooter. He made 308 long balls for the Lumberjacks.