North Dakota (17-14) at Drake (17-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 14, 8:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Knapp Center (7,002) -- Des Moines, Iowa. Television: None. CIT Record: North Dakota 0-1, Drake 0-1. Series Record: Series tied 4-4.
GAME NOTES: The North Dakota Fighting Sioux and the Drake Bulldogs will both play into the postseason when the two meet up in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament at the Knapp Center.
This will be the ninth meeting between these squads all-time with each already having four wins in the all-time series, although the majority of those matchups came way back in the 1920s.
North Dakota will be making its second straight trip to the CIT this season after exiting in the first round of the 2011 event with a 77-67 loss to Air Force. The Fighting Sioux will try to reverse that decision in this season and also keep a six game winning streak alive that propelled the squad to a 17-14 overall record and a 6-4 mark in the Great West Conference which will not receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament until the 2020 season.
Drake will also be making its second appearance in the CIT although it has been a bit longer since the Bulldogs played in the event with the squad playing in the first tournament back in the 2008-2009 season where they suffered a 69-67 loss to Idaho. The Bulldogs have been trading wins and losses in their last four games, including a split of the two games in played in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament with a win over Bradley and a loss to eventual champion Creighton.
North Dakota shot its way past NJIT last time out and won by 15 points, 75-60, to take home the Great West Conference Tournament Title. The Fighting Sioux held NJIT to just 38.6 percent shooting overall in the game.
The Fighting Sioux are led by the Great West's fifth leading scorer this season in Troy Huff. The sophomore swingman (13.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg) can both score and rebound and finished the season as the team's leader on the glass. Aaron Anderson (11.1 ppg) is the second option and was one of the best three-point shooters in the country this season finishing eighth in the nation in three point field goal percentage (.483). Patrick Mitchell (10.3 ppg) was another solid scorer for the Fighting Sioux and also lights it up from beyond the arc after knocking down 59 treys this season.
Drake stayed right with Creighton in its tournament matchup with the Bluejays and trailed by only one, 35-34, at the half. The wheels came off a bit in the second half for the Bulldogs though, and with the team connecting on only 1-of-15 shots from three-point range, an upset wasn't in the cards.
As a team, the Bulldogs finished the season fifth in the 10-team MVC in scoring (66.9 ppg). Even with the offense not putting up outstanding numbers, Drake still had the one of the best scoring combination in the conference this season in Rayvonte Rice and Ben Simons. Rice, a sophomore guard, (16.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg) finished third in the conference in scoring, while Simons, a junior forward, (16.0 ppg) finished fourth. Simons missed five games in early February due to injury but has come back and has scored in double figures in the four games since. Simons also gives the Bulldogs an answer to North Dakota's strong effort from beyond the arc, as he has show a strong ability to score from three point range including a game in which he knocked down seven three pointers earlier this season. Rice is the more conventional scorer and has been in double figures in the last eight games, which is a season high. Kurt Alexander (8.3 ppg) is the next best option at the offensive end for Drake.
Drake's competition level is much higher than North Dakota's. Expect the Bulldogs to get out to a nice lead and ride that to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drake 78, North Dakota 60
03/14 10:35:16 ET
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