IUPU-Fort Wayne (16-16) vs. South Dakota State (23-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, March 11, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sioux Falls Arena (7,500) -- Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Television: FCS, Midco Sports. Home Record: IPFW 10-4, SDSU 13-0. Away Record: IPFW 4-11, SDSU 7-9. Neutral Record: IPFW 2-1, SDSU 3-0. Conference Record: IPFW 7-9, SDSU 13-3. Series Record: South Dakota State leads, 10-8.
GAME NOTES: The top-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits continue their quest for the Summit League Tournament championship, as they take on the surging Mastodons of IUPU-Fort Wayne in the semifinals on Monday night.
The winner will advance to the championship game to face either North Dakota State or Western Illinois
IPFW, the fifth seed in the tournament, is the hottest team in the Summit League, as it has won six straight games to climb back to .500 at 16-16. The Mastodons upset fourth-seeded Oakland in the quarterfinal round, 91-72, marking the third time they have defeated the Golden Grizzlies in the past three weeks.
SDSU earned a share of the Summit League regular-season title along with Western Illinois, and was awarded the No. 1 seed in the tournament by virtue of the tie-breaker. The Jackrabbits opened tourney play with a 66-49 triumph over IUPUI in the quarterfinals to improve to 23-9 on the season.
SDSU swept the season series from IPFW, most recently claiming an 80-74 decision in Fort Wayne on Feb. 7. The Jackrabbits now lead the all-time series by a 10-8 margin.
The Mastodons saved one of their best offensive performances of the season for their quarterfinal-round matchup, as they shot a red-hot 62.5 percent from the field (including 12-of-20 from 3-point range) on their way to the 19-point victory over Oakland. Frank Gaines led the way with 23 points on 7-of-12 from the field and 7-of-10 from the foul line. Luis Jacobo logged a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Michael Kibiloski added 15 points in the winning effort. IPFW's outstanding play of late has allowed its scoring average to improve to 67.4 ppg, while it allows just 65.8 ppg. Gaines is the conference's third-leading scorer with 19.6 ppg, and he is one of the nation's busiest players at the foul line (178-of-241, .739). Jacobo brings 11.5 ppg to the table and he has drained 68 3-pointers at a 39.3 percent clip.
The Jackrabbits' first contest in the tournament was much closer than they would have liked it to be, as they led by only four points with just over 12 minutes left to play, but they went on a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach. They shot 51 percent from the floor in the win and were paced by the effort of Nate Wolters, who poured in 20 points and handed out four assists. Tony Fiegen tallied a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Jordan Dykstra also netted 15 points. SDSU is one of the more well-rounded teams in the Summit League, as it scores 74.0 ppg on nearly 47 percent from the field while surrendering 65.8 ppg to its opponents. Wolters was named the Summit League Player of the Year and puts up eye-popping numbers with 22.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 5.6 apg, and he's about to become the first player in NCAA history to average 20 points, five assists and five rebounds in two different seasons since assists was introduced as an official statistic in the early 1980s. Dykstra is impressive down low with 12.4 ppg and 7.9 rpg, while Chad White (10.0 ppg) and Fiegen (9.9 ppg) are also consistent performers.
Looking past IPFW would be a big mistake for the Jackrabbits considering how well it has played of late, but after winning this tournament a year ago, SDSU is battle-tested and prepared to make it a repeat performance. Another strong showing by Wolters will propel the Jackrabbits to the championship game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota State 74, IUPU-Fort Wayne 66
03/11 10:33:00 ET