COLUMBIA, S.C. (Valley News Live) -- There's no putting it lightly.
The Bison are in for a tall test Friday when they take on top seeded Duke.
The Blue Devils are in their 24th consecutive NCAA tournament and are number one all-time in winning percentage in the tournament and third in wins.
Take tradition out of it, Duke also has the number one player in the country and the projected top draft pick this year in freshman Zion Williamson. The six-seven 285 pound forward has made history in the ACC this year but the Bison have seen the best in college basketball before, Rocky Kreuser points to Arizona's Deandre Ayton when the Bison played them last year.
"With how talented he was and how talented Zion Williamson is they're going to make some plays, obviously," Kreuser said. "So I think you've got to play your hardest out there, compete your hardest, defend the best you possibly can, but they're definitely going to make plays being how talented they are so you've got to, whenever they do make those plays you've got to have the next best action in mind and just try to move on from it."
"Zion's a really good player but at the end of the day it's a team game," Vinnie Shahid said. "You can't put one guy out there and beat five guys, that's how we kind of look at it, so it's a five-on-five game. Everybody's going to contribute in some way, I just got to look at it that way."
For all the attention Duke is getting in this tournament the Bison have there's.
"Coach Richman, he's done a great job with his squad. They're deep, they share the ball, obviously they shoot really well, but they play like one and so I'm very impressed with them," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
"They play as a unit, they can really shoot and they remained calm. They got the lead, (North Carolina) Central cut it down, but even with that momentum swing they didn't fold and they held their composure," Williamson said.
"North Dakota State is a championship team. They won the Summit League. It's different when you're playing a championship level team so they know how to win. They've been in pressure situations. They've been in that moment and they'll have that moment again tomorrow and we respect that," Krzyzewski added.
Coach K was asked if he ever misses not being able to be the underdog - to play like you've got nothing to lose - with that desperation and emotion. He flipped it, asking why they don't think that way each game, explaining he tries to instill in his teams that mentality of an underdog because he says that feeling is how you win basketball games, and winning with it, is how you sustain excellence.