UMKC (8-23) vs. North Dakota State (22-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, March 10, 9:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sioux Falls Arena (7,500) -- Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Television: FCS, Midco Sports. Home Record: UMKC 2-11, NDSU 12-1. Away Record: UMKC 4-11, NDSU 8-7. Neutral Record: UMKC 2-1, NDSU 2-0. Conference Record: UMKC 5-11, NDSU 12-4. Series Record: North Dakota State leads, 10-4.
GAME NOTES: The quarterfinal round of the Summit League Tournament concludes on Sunday night, as the third-seeded North Dakota State Bison tangle with the seventh-seeded UMKC Kangaroos at Sioux Falls Arena.
Western Illinois awaits the winner of this matchup in Monday's semifinal round.
Despite winning its regular-season finale against last-place IUPUI (48-44), UMKC has had a disappointing season, going just 8-23 overall and 5-11 in Summit League play. The 'Roos have shown promise on neutral floors however, going 2-1.
NDSU (22-8) was in the running for the Summit League title for most of the regular season, but at 12-4, it lagged just behind co-champions South Dakota State and Western Illinois (13-3). The Bison are carrying a bit of momentum into the tournament, having won back-to-back games against Utah Valley (63-56) and Nebraska Omaha (84-57).
NDSU won both games over UMKC during the regular season by a combined 56 points. The Bison now lead the all-time series, 10-4.
The 'Roos struggled mightily in their regular-season finale, shooting a dismal 32 percent from the field, but they played outstanding defense, holding IUPUI to 36.6 percent while forcing 15 turnovers, and after 11 ties and five lead changes, they used a 5-0 run late in the game to seal the deal. Thomas Staton was a spark off the bench, pouring in 14 points, while Nelson Kirksey tallied 11 points and six rebounds. UMKC typically doesn't play strong defense, as it allows opposing teams to net 47.6 percent from the field for greater than 70 ppg, and its offensive production (.423, 61.0 ppg) has been consistently lackluster. Estan Tyler is the only player in double-digit scoring with 11.5 ppg, doing so on 58-of-133 efficiency from 3-point range, while Staton (9.9 ppg) is a solid reserve.
On the road in its latest matchup, NDSU thoroughly dominated Omaha. Not only did it outshoot the Mavericks from the field, 57.7 percent to 33.3 percent, but it also claimed a convincing 42-25 advantage on the glass in the 27-point triumph. After going scoreless on Feb. 26 in his first game back after missing more than a month with an injury, Taylor Braun was back to form with 22 points. Marshall Bjorklund (18 points) and TrayVonn Wright (15 points, six rebounds, two blocks) were also solid. On the season, the Bison rank in the middle of the Summit League pack in terms of scoring with 67.3 ppg, but that has been more than enough considering their tremendous defense (.383, 55.4 ppg). Braun's return to the lineup has given the team a huge boost, as he pours in 14.8 ppg on nearly 47 percent from beyond the arc. Bjorklund nets 11.7 ppg with the second-best field goal percentage in the nation (.676), while Lawrence Alexander (10.7 ppg, 1.0 spg) and Wright (9.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.8 bpg) have been crucial components at both ends of the floor.
As NDSU proved in the season series, it has UMKC's number, and with Braun back healthy, the Bison have to be considered along with SDSU and WIU as tournament favorites.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 80, UMKC 62
03/10 10:32:09 ET