Summit League Finals: Battle of South Dakota In Quest For One NCAA Tourney Bid

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No. 1 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (26-6, 13-1) vs.
No. 2 South Dakota Coyotes (25-7, 11-3)

Tuesday’s game has been one of the most anticipated championship games all season. If the South Dakota State Jackrabbits and South Dakota Coyotes didn’t make the Summit League final, it would have been the biggest upset of the conference tournament season. Now, the two teams battle for the third time in a winner-take-all spot in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

The Coyotes knocked the Jackrabbits around in the first meeting. The 87-68 win in late January seemed to set the stage for a regular season title. However, the Coyotes got clipped in the very next game by the Denver Pioneers. Fittingly, the Coyotes returned the favor in the Summit League semis. However, while they had to bounce back from a little bit of adversity. The Jackrabbits have gone on a 10-game winning streak since their only conference loss to the Coyotes. One of those games was a 76-72 win over the Coyotes to even the season series. Like we said, the rubber match winner takes all. More importantly, there are a lot of explosive scorers on each side.

Mike Daum leads the Jackrabbits with 24 points and 10 rebounds per game. He is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. However, Daum is only connecting on 49 percent of his 2-point shots this season. As a result, Daum is connecting on 46.4 percent of his field goal attempts. David Jenkins Jr. will playing in his first conference championship game. He’s second on the team with 15.5 points per game. The ball may be in his hands at the end.

The Coyotes only have two double digit scorers on the team. It doesn’t mean they don’t have capable scorers. Yet, when the Coyotes want a big bucket, they will be looking at guard Matt Mooney. He leads the Coyotes with 18.2 points per game. The Coyotes have five other players scoring between 7.8 points and 13.2 points per game. Tyler Hagedorn must capitalize on his 3-point opportunities. He attempts around three shots from beyond the arc each game.

The Coyotes were the regular season champ last season, but fell short of the conference finals when they lost to the Jackrabbits. Therefore, they have plenty of motivation to earn their first NCAA Tournament bid. Meanwhile, the Jackrabbits are trying to earn their third straight trip to the Big Dance.

Both teams shoot fairly well from the field. The Coyotes are No. 30 in the country at 48 percent. Interestingly enough, they are shooting worse from 3-point range in conference play than they did on the whole season. The Jackrabbits connect on 40 percent of their 3-point attempts this season. That makes them a top 15 shooting team in college basketball. Clearly, the winner of the 3-point line will have a good chance to earn an NCAA Tournament bid.

It’s time for history to be made on Tuesday night. The Coyotes are going to find a way to win. But the game should be close if both teams play well.

Score Prediction- South Dakota 81 – South Dakota State 80