North Dakota State (16-4) at South Dakota State (15-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 26, 3:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frost Arena (6,500) -- Brookings, South Dakota. Television: FCS, Midco Sports Network. Home Record: NDSU 8-0. SDSU 8-0. Away Record: NDSU 6-4, SDSU 5-6. Neutral Record: NDSU 2-0, SDSU 2-0. Conference Record: NDSU 7-1, NDSU 6-2. Series Record: NDSU leads, 108-96.
GAMES NOTES: Two teams at the top of the Summit League standings will square off on Saturday when the North Dakota State Bison pay a visit to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at Frost Arena.
Before their battle with Western Illinois last Saturday, the Bison were undefeated in league play. However a 50-42 setback to the Leathernecks pushed them into a tie with the very team they lost to for first place in the conference. North Dakota State is still a formidable 16-4 on the season,0 while managing to hold its own on the road with a mark of 6-4 in away contests. The Bison return home in their next two games against UMKC and South Dakota.
With an 80-65 rout of IUPUI last Saturday South Dakota State has now won four straight contests. The win also improved the Jackrabbits to 6-2 in league play which has them sitting in third place in the league standings. Playing at home has been a real strength for the Jackrabbits who have yet to lose in eight tries at Frost Arena. The Jackrabbits will have plenty of time to improve that record as this matchup kicks off a three-game homestand that continues against South Dakota.
This is actually the second meeting between these squads this season. North Dakota State earned a tough 65-62 win in the first meeting on Dec. 29. In all the Bison lead the all-time series, 108-96.
In an uncharacteristically poor offensive showing, North Dakota State was unable to shoot any better than 34 percent from the floor against Western Illinois. Where the game was really decided was at the foul line, where the Bison were outscored 21-4. They had 31 fewer attempts from the charity stripe than the Leathernecks.
Poor shooting has normally not been an issue for North Dakota State which ranks among the top teams in the conference in a bulk of statistical categories. The Bison are the top shooting team in the league (.485). The Bison are second in the conference in assists (13.8 apg) and rebounds (34.6 rpg), while sitting fourth in scoring (70 ppg). That type of offensive production has been more than enough for a team that surrenders just 56.2 points per game on 37.7 percent shooting, both among the top 20 marks in the country. Taylor Braun (15.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Marshall Bjorklund (12.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg) are the top scoring threats on the roster, while Lawrence Alexander (10.3 ppg, 4.0 apg) adds scoring punch while being the team's top distributor.
South Dakota State didn't seem phased on the road against IUPUI as the Jackrabbits nailed 47.2 percent of their field-goal attempts en route to the 15-point win. South Dakota State also had major advantages from beyond the arc (21-9) and the free-throw line (23-6) in the win.
Led by the conference's leading scorer Nate Wolters (20.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.7 spg), the Jackrabbits have been the Summit League's best offensive team in terms of points per game (72.8) and assists (14.7 pg). The Jackrabbits are also among the top three teams in the conference in rebounds (34.4 pg) and field-goal percentage (.460). Wolters isn't just a scorer though as he also leads the league in assists, while ranking in the top 10 in steals and rebounds. Wolters has scored in double figures in every game he has played this season including 12 games of more than 20 points. Jordan Dykstra (12.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Tony Fiegen (10.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg) provide capable complements in the frontcourt.
Wolters will continue his Summit League Player of the Year campaign in this contest as the Jackrabbits will exact some revenge from the loss earlier in the season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota State 76, North Dakota State 72
01/26 10:31:32 ET