North Dakota State (15-5) at South Dakota (8-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 30, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: DakotaDome (10,000) -- Vermillion, South Dakota. Television: Midco SN. Home Record: NDSU 7-1, USD 7-1. Away Record: NDSU 7-4, USD 1-9. Neutral Record: NDSU 1-0, USD 0-1. Conference Record: NDSU 4-1, USD 3-2. Series Record: North Dakota State leads, 88-76.
GAME NOTES: The red-hot North Dakota State Bison will try to keep running through the Summit League when they invade the DakotaDome for a clash with the South Dakota Coyotes.
North Dakota State has been quite impressive in the last two months, with wins in four straight games and 11 of its last 13 overall. The Bison are now 15-5 on the season and are tied with IUPU-Fort Wayne for first place in the Summit League standings (4-1). They are scheduled to face Denver next time out.
South Dakota has fallen off a bit since posting a five-game win streak earlier this month, with losses in back-to-back contests. However, the Coyotes' issues have all been on the road, where they are a ghastly 1-9. At home, the Coyotes have a sparkling 7-1 record. They get to host their next two games against South Dakota State and Peru State as well.
This long dormant rivalry was renewed two years ago when South Dakota joined the Summit League. The Bison have won each of the four meetings since, and lead the all-time series by a count of 89-76.
Taylor Braun was at it again for North Dakota State last Saturday, as he poured in 30 points to carry the Bison past South Dakota State, 85-77. As a team, NDSU hit 56.3 percent of its attempts from the floor, while claiming a slight advantage in points in the paint (30-24).
Braun (18.9 ppg) lights up the scoreboard better than anyone in the conference at the moment, as he leads the Summit League by more than two points per game. With Braun leading the way, the Bison are second in the league in scoring (79.8 ppg), while knocking down the best percentage of shots from the floor (.515) in the entire country. Braun doesn't do it alone though, as he gets plenty of help from Marshall Bjorklund (15.1 ppg), TrayVonn Wright (11.2 ppg) and Lawrence Alexander (10.5 ppg). Bjorklund is especially reliable, ranking second in the conference in field goal percentage (.654).
In their last game, the Coyotes came up just short against Nebraska Omaha, losing 77-73. South Dakota was outscored 21-9 from beyond the arc, while committing 14 turnovers. Trevor Gruis scored 16 points to lead four players in double figures for the Coyotes.
South Dakota is scoring at a much less productive rate as compared to North Dakota State. The Coyotes are netting just 70.8 ppg and shooting 44 percent from the floor. Brandon Bos (13.4 ppg) and Gruis (12.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg) are the team's best scoring threats and the only players averaging in double figures. Bos finished with 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting against Nebraska Omaha, extending his streak in double figures to seven games. Trey Norris (7.9 ppg, 4.8 apg) doesn't score much, but he is a vital pat of the offense, leading the Summit League in assists.
On paper, this game should be an easy one for North Dakota State, based solely on overall records. However, South Dakota plays a much better brand of basketball at home. Braun and his team's offensive efficiency gives them an edge, albeit a narrow one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 75, South Dakota 69
01/30 10:36:41 ET