Eady, NDSU surprise guests in NCAA Tournament

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Tyree Eady, a former Middleton High School standout, and his North Dakota State team surprised many by earning a berth to the NCAA Tournament./Photo submitted

It’s spring break right now at North Dakota State.

And even with campus less congested than usual, this school of 15,000 students in Fargo, N.D. has been buzzing.

That’s because the Bison — which include former Middleton High School standout Tyree Eady — qualified for the NCAA Tournament last week. NDSU, the No. 4 seed in the Summit League, got hot at the perfect time, won the conference tournament and earned the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

“The entire community is extremely excited,” Eady said Monday. “Everywhere we go people notice and congratulate us. It's a very exciting time in Fargo.” 

With good reason.

NDSU (18-15) received a No. 16 seed in the East Region and faces North Carolina Central (18-15) in a First Four game Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio. If the Bison win their opener, their reward is a date with No. 1 overall seed Duke on Friday in Columbia, S.C.

“Honestly, we're just excited to be in the tournament and we were prepared to go anywhere the committee put us,” Eady said. “We're just going go to Dayton and focus on one game at time. Obviously, it's impossible to see Duke ahead and not think about it, but we're going stay together as a team and try to lock in day by day.”

Anybody that watched Eady play at Middleton isn't the least bit surprised he’s in this situation today.

Eady finished his career as Middleton’s all-time leading scorer (1,349) and also set a new school record for career steals (178). Eady was named first-team all-Big Eight Conference during his final two years at MHS and was named first-team all-state by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association as a senior.

After redshirting a year ago, Eady has had an impressive first season with the Bison.

Eady has started 13 games this year and averaged 20.5 minutes per contest. He’s also averaging 6.6 points per game, 2.5 rebounds, shooting 47.5% from the field and 90.9% from the line.

“I've been pretty happy with my season,” Eady said. “As a redshirt freshman, it was exciting to finally get on the court again after sitting last season out, but I feel like I was better prepared to play at this level.

“I definitely have found some areas of my game I need to work on in order to take my game to the next level that I will work on this offseason. At the end of the day, we reached our goal as a team and that's all that matters to me, so I hope to build on that in the future.”

It’s undoubtedly a surprise to many that the Bison are still alive and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in 11 years.

NDSU went 9-7 in conference play, five games behind regular season champion South Dakota State. But the Bison went on a roll at the perfect time.

“Nothing necessarily changed. We have a very young team with no seniors, so we were very inexperienced to start,” Eady said. “We also had a few key injuries during the season which set us back as well. But throughout the year we just continued to get better and buy into the vision that coach had for us. We hit our stride and at that point we gained a lot of confidence and just tried stay true to the process.”

NDSU defeated Oral Roberts, 86-73, in the league quarterfinals. Eady had five points and three assists in that game.

The Bison then edged Western Illinois — which had upset top-seeded South Dakota State — in the semifinals, 76-73. Eady had another strong game with eight points and a pair of three-pointers.

Then in the title game, the Bison rolled over No. 2 seed Omaha, 73-63. NDSU junior Vinnine Shahis led all players with 22 points to earn tournament MVP honors, while Eady had five points and didn't miss a field goal or a free throw.

“Honestly, we went into the tournament expecting to win,” Eady said. “We had close games with all the teams in the tournament, so we knew everyone was beatable.

“The entire team was locked in physically and mentally because we knew our margin for error was so small. We knew among ourselves that if we came to play every game and played hard that we would give ourselves a great chance to win.”

Few will expect the Bison to do much this week. And considering almost no one thought NDSU would still be standing, that’s just fine with Eady and his teammates.

Instead, Eady plans to enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts — and hopes to keep surprising people.

“It's still surreal because it's a childhood dream to play in the tournament and I don't think it will really hit until we're actually in the game,” Eady said. “It's a stage that every basketball player wants, so I'm looking forward to going into this with my teammates and trying to make some noise.”

 

 

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