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North Dakota State no pushover; Gators will be tested tonight

GAINESVILLE -- Don't expect another blowout win by the Florida Gators basketball team tonight. After opening the season with two easy exhibition games, Florida begins the season tonight against North Dakota State.

The Bison won 20 games last season and return four starters from that team. North Dakota State beat then-No.9 Marquette last season and played well against Texas Tech (lost by four) and Kansas State (lost by two).

North Dakota State (NDSU) is in the final year of a reclassification process to join Division I and is not eligible for postseason play. This is NSDU's first season to compete in the Summit League. The Bison are ranked behind IUPUI, Oral Roberts and Oakland.

While Florida will feature five new starters tonight, NDSU comes to Gainesville with four returning starters. The Bison are led by junior guard Ben Woodside and junior forward Brett Winkelman.

Projected Starting Line-up
SpeightsG-Jai Lucas (5-8, DNP last season)
G-Nick Calathes (6-5, DNP last season)
G-Walter Hodge (5-8, 5.7 ppg)
F-Dan Werner (6-4, 1.8 ppg)
C-Marresse Speights PICTURED (6-10, 4.1 ppg)
F-Adam Allen (6-8); F-Alex Tyus (6-8)
F-Chandler Parsons (6-9); F-Jon Mitchell (6-7)

WoodsideG-Ben Woodside PICTURED (5-11, 16.4 ppg)
G-Mike Nelson (6-4, 15.7 ppg)
F-Brett Winkelman (6-6, 16.1 ppg)
F-Michael Tveidt (6-7, DNP last season)
C-Lucas Moorman (6-10, 4.9 ppg)

A close game. Don't be shocked if Florida loses this game. The Gators will need strong play from freshman guard Nick Calathes to stay competitive and help from its freshmen on the bench. Junior shooting guard Walter Hodge needs to assert himself and sophomore forward Dan Werner needs a strong game to help with his confidence. Shoot it, Dan! Shoot it!

Sorry, guys. I won't be blogging live from the game tonight. I'll be in South Carolina for Saturday's football game.





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