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BASKETBALL: Bemidji State men open season with exhibition at Northern Iowa

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BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State basketball team hasn't played a Division I opponent since 2011.

That year, the Beavers traveled to Minneapolis to take on instate foe Minnesota in an exhibition game. The Beavers fell to the Gophers 71-58, but it was a good learning experience for a team that would eventually make it to the NCAA Division II tournament that year.

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This season the Beavers get to play another Division I foe and while it may not have a big name like the Big Ten opponent in Minneapolis, they'll be taking on a perennial mid-major powerhouse.

BSU head coach Mike Boschee released his team's full 2013-14 schedule Thursday, and among the highlights of the slate is an Oct. 25 contest against Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

The Beavers have played Northern Iowa before, traveling to Cedar Falls in 2007. The Panthers, a consistent Missouri Valley Conference contender, topped the Beavers 79-61.

This will be BSU's first Division I exhibition with Boschee as head coach. Both Boschee and Northern Iowa head coach Ben Jacobsen played basketball at North Dakota and were members of the 1989-90 team that went 28-7 and made it to the Division II Elite 8.

Aside from the Northern Iowa game, the Beavers will play four nonconference games before starting their Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference schedule.

BSU will play all four nonconference games at home, including a contest against a Michigan Tech team that went 21-9 last season and made it to the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinals.

BSU also hosts Division III St. Scholastica and Finlandia and NAIA school Mayville State.

Conference play begins Nov. 30 at Minnesota Crookston and continues for the rest of the season.

Highlights of the Beavers' conference schedule this year include home games against NCAA tournament teams Minnesota State Mankato and Winona State -- BSU played both teams on the road last season -- as well as home-and-homes against St. Cloud State, Northern State, Minnesota State Moorhead and Minnesota Duluth.

The season ends Feb. 22 at St. Cloud State before the conference tournament begins Feb. 26.

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on Bemidji State but also covering area high schools. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
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