ELMHURST, Ill.(NDSU Sports Information) – North Dakota State is the favorite to win the 2013-14 Summit League men’s basketball title, according to the annual preseason poll of league coaches, sports information directors and media. The Bison received 25-of-28 first-place votes after finishing as runner-up at the 2013 Summit League Tournament. Head coach Saul Phillips returns all five starters from last season’s squad that finished 24-10 overall and 12-4 in Summit League play. NDSU guard Taylor Braun, a two-time All-Summit League selection, was the preseason choice for Player of the Year. The senior averaged 15.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game and scored in double-figures in 21 of 24 games played during the 2012-13 season. After missing 10 contests with a broken foot from mid-January to late February, Braun returned from injury to record a 27-point performance in The Summit League Tournament quarterfinals and 11 assists in the College Basketball Invitational first round game. He earned first team All-Summit League honors as a sophomore in 2011-12. NDSU placed a league-high three players on the all-league team with Braun, guard Lawrence Alexander (10.8 ppg, 3.6 apg in ‘12-13) and forward Marshall Bjorklund (11.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, second in NCAA with 66.7 FG%) all receiving first-team nods. Bjorklund is the active career NCAA leader in field goal percentage. Joining the Bison trio on the preseason All-Summit League first team are South Dakota State’s Jordan Dykstra (12.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg), Omaha’s Justin Simmons (16.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and Denver’s Chris Udofia (13.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg). League newcomer Denver, which earned a share of the 2012-13 WAC regular season title and posted a first-round NIT victory last March, earned the remaining three first-place votes to finish second in the poll with 260 points. South Dakota State, the two-time defending Summit League Tournament champion, placed third with 233 points. Last season’s regular season co-champion, Western Illinois, was fourth in the voting. Omaha, Fort Wayne, South Dakota and IUPUI rounded out the poll.
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