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Tom Miller

UND perfect against NDSU

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Earlier this week, UND improved to 5-0 against North Dakota State during the 2013-14 school year with a rivalry baseball win in Fargo.

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Baseball joined men’s basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball and women’s soccer as UND-NDSU matchup victors.

In no surprise, UND fans are boasting that record at every opportunity.

And that’s fine. It’s significant.

It’s certainly not to say that this mark indicates that UND’s athletic department is superior to North Dakota State’s athletic department right now. That’s clearly far from the truth.

But the importance in UND’s 5-0 record against NDSU is this: It’s a large enough of a sample size that it’s fair to say that the general competitive gap between UND and NDSU isn’t as large as public perception.

UND has been losing the in-state public relations battle for years.

Whether they’re in the same conference or not, North Dakota and North Dakota State will always be judged against each other. It’s just a natural rivalry, whether people like it or not.

And it’s easy to see why the general opinion has a big disparity between the two rivals at this point.

North Dakota State is in a great place. The Bison have made a near flawless move from NCAA Division II to Division I.

The Bison have won three straight national football titles and have made big splashes at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. NDSU hoopsters have picked up several significant signature wins against high major programs, an elusive achievement for UND men’s basketball.

Perhaps most importantly, UND’s rebuilding football program remains distant in NDSU’s rear-view mirror.

But, as a whole, UND’s athletic department — which was a few years late on the jump to Division I — isn’t lagging far behind NDSU competitively. The undefeated mark against the Bison helps illustrate that.

Sure, there are excuses at every turn to diminish the 5-0 record.

These teams aren’t in the same conference anymore, so the non-league matchups don’t carry as much significance. Partially, it’s the old ‘this means more to you than it does to us’ argument.

The men’s basketball rivalry game was one of the strangest, oddly officiated games of the season. The result didn’t do much for momentum. Shortly after, UND’s season turned bumpy while NDSU beat Notre Dame on national television.

The baseball rivalry game was played on a Tuesday, which means neither team was throwing its best arms. Top pitchers rarely throw midweek during conference season. That’s why college baseball is perhaps the easiest sport to pull off an upset.

All of these points make sense. However, there has to be a tipping point — a large enough of a sample size to make a generalized statement — for the UND-NDSU head-to-head record to be treated as though it matters.

To me, a 5-0 mark hits that threshold.

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