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State Pride

by Dan Gunderson

The state of North Dakota is ranked 48th in state population in the United States. Growing up in rural northeastern North Dakota, I dont have a hard time believing this. I also felt growing up that half of the population in North Dakota was fans of the University of North Dakota hockey team.

I did not fall into that trend, deciding instead to hitch my fan wagon to the North Dakota State University Bison. While I saw my college decide to make a jump to Division I, UND was winning titles in both football and hockey. It seemed that UND was thee school of North Dakota.

Flash forward to present times and NDSU has taken over the sports landscape in the state. The football team has won three straight Football Championship Subdivision titles while the mens basketball team has been to the NCAA tournament twice, winning a Round of 64 game over the University of Oklahoma this season.

On the flip side, UND has to endure a nickname issue, a football team digressing rather than excelling at the Division I level and a hockey team that has not won a title since 2000.

So, It would only make sense in a sports year already completely dominated by the Bison, UND would make an unlikely run to the Frozen Four.

Even though UND is not a stranger to the Frozen Four, this is their 20 th appearance, this seasons appearance is a bit unexpected. Coming in as the four seed in the Midwest region, UND took out both Wisconsin and Ferris State to get to Philadelphia.

From a personal standpoint, I could care less how UND does this weekend. I really could. I wont lose sleep over it nor will I be buying up UND hockey merchandise and hanging on to all 60 minutes Thursday against the University of Minnesota and possibly Saturday.

However, I have state pride above everything and cant help but think how awesome it would be for a state to have two national champions. A state, known more for the weather and a movie than it is for athletic prowess, to have two NCAA national title teams would be unreal.

NDSU is the football school and UND is the hockey school. That is how it is and will be for generations. Having both of these schools hold a title in their respective sports would be unprecedented, as neither has won a title in the same year.

A UND hockey title would be the perfect culmination of what has been a whirlwind of athletic success for the states two premier universities. From NDSUs football and mens basketball teams to UNDs womens basketball and, now, mens hockey team, it appears North Dakota can play sports as well as anybody in the nation.

You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called The Pinto and White Shadow Show. Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.