1964-65 Men's Basketball Team
1964-65 University of North Dakota men's basketball team finished the season with a record of 26-5 and took third place at the NCAA College Division National Tournament in Evansville, Ind. Led by Coach Bill Fitch, who was in his third year at North Dakota, the Sioux went 22-4 in the regular season, including a perfect 12-0 mark in the North Central Conference play to take their first NCC title since 1954-55 season. The 26 victories marked the most wins in school history.
North Dakota used a starting lineup of 6'-8" sophomore Phil Jackson, 6'-4" junior Paul Pederson, 6'-5" junior Jim Hester, 6'-5" junior John (Stony) Burckhard, and 5'-11" junior Tom Nesbitt. Pederson led UND in scoring at 16.9 points per games, while Hester added 14.6 points and 9.2 rebounds, Jackson 11.8 points and 11.6 rebounds, and Nesbitt 10.1 points per game. Pederson earned AP and UPI All-American honors, while Pederson, Hester, Jackson and Nesbitt were all voted to the All-NCC team.
After getting off to a 6-4 start to the season (with all four losses coming on the road to Division I opponents Bradley, DePaul, Loyola of Chicago and Iowa), the Sioux rattled off 16 straight wins to finish the regular season. Hosting the NCAA College Division Midwest Regional Tournament, UND advanced tot he national tournament with a 67-57 victory over Minnesota-Duluth and a 82-57 win over MSU-Moorhead.
The Sioux opened play at the national tournament with a 97-83 victory over Seattle Pacific, but fell in the semifinals to Southern Illinois, 97-64, a team led by future NBA Hall of Famer Walt Frazier. North Dakota came back to defeat St. Michael's (Vermont) 94-86, in the third place game.
1965-66 Men's Basketball Team
Using a roster mainly intact from the 1964-65 team that went 26-5 and finished third at the NCAA College Division National Tournament, the 1965-66 University of North Dakota men's basketball team went 24-5 and again advanced to the national tournament, where the Sioux finished in fourth place. UND went 11-1 in North Central Conference play to win its second consecutive NCC title and eighth overall.
The Sioux used a starting lineup of 6'-4" senior Paul Pederson, 5'-11" senior Tom Nesbitt, 6'-5" senior John (Stony) Burckhard, 6'-5" senior Jim Hester and 6'-8" junior Phil Jackson. Senior David (Butch) Lince was a key reserve. Jackson was honored as the NCC Most Valuable Player and also earned AP and UPI All-America accolades. Jackson, Pederson and Nesbitt were named All-NCC.
In late December 1965, North Dakota stormed through the first (of what would be 25) NCC Holiday Tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., downing Northern Iowa, Augustana and South Dakota by an average of 19.6 points per game. The Sioux used the momentum from that tournament to defeat Division I DePaul and Hall of Fame Coach Ray Meyer in early January, 85-74, in front of 7, 040 fans in Grand Forks.
Again hosting the NCAA College Division Midwest Regional Tournament, UND advanced to its second straight national tournament with a 84-71 victory over Northern Colorado and a 112-82 win over Valparaiso. In the region final, Jackson finished with 44 points, hitting 13 of 21 field goals and 18 of 19 free throws and 16 rebounds.
At the national tournament at Evansville, Ind., North Dakota advanced to the semifinals with a 63-62 win over Abilene Christian. The Sioux finished the season with two losses, falling to Southern Illinois, 69-61, in the semifinal round and to Akron, 76-71, in the third-place game.