Mid-major weekend

Although no Big Ten teams will be involved, there’s (potentially) a sneaky good weekend of non-conference hoops on tap for Frost Arena with South Dakota State hosting teams ranked in the men’s and women’s mid-major top 25s in Belmont and Central Michigan, respectively.

Here’s a look at both:

The Bruins are sitting at 8-2 with a win at then No. 12-ranked North Carolina and ranked No. 4 in the mid-major poll. That’s despite graduating two senior standout guards; one of them, Ian Clark, is now a member of the Utah Jazz.
Belmont isn’t a team it’s a program, having been to the NCAA Division I tournament in six of the last eight years. Coach Rick Byrd has 597 wins at the school.
SDSU got a sense of that standard last season, dropping a 76-49 decision in Nashville to a club that wound up at No. 24 in RPI. (That game proceeded the Jacks legendary bus trip to Albuquerque and upset of top-25 New Mexico.)

The current Bruins can fill it up, averaging 82.7 points per game - four guys are putting up double figures - on 49.9-percent shooting with 9.1 3-pointers per game. However, they’re also allowing 74.3 points and 45.5-percent shooting. Maybe that will be the cure for the head-scratching shooting woes for SDSU (4-7)?

Based on the Sagarin Ratings, No. 53-ranked Belmont is favored by 10. The Jacks are all the way down at No. 251.

"They’re just a well-coached basketball team," SDSU forward Jordan Dykstra said. "They don’t do anything extraordinary, but they do everything well."


The SDSU women also are taking on a top-55 team in the Chippewas, who last year made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1984. Their regular-season run included an convincing 88-62 win over the Jacks. 

CMU is only 3-4 so far, but has won two in a row - over reputable programs Xavier and Dayton - and has played the seventh-most difficult schedule in Division I. Those losses came to nationally ranked Kentucky and Duke plus Kansas and Marquette. This will be its first game in 10 days. That’s a fair amount of rest for a squad that likes to play with pace, averaging 80 points per game.

The Jacks (7-4) are suiting up for the third time in nine days (and there’s another contest Tuesday). But they have built some momentum in that time, beating previously perfect Green Bay on the road and No. 12-ranked Penn State at home. Their reward was a day off Thursday.

CMU is coached by Sue Guevara, who led Michigan from 1996-2003 and ranked No. 17 in the mid-major poll. SDSU is 20th. 

"We have a good team, and we’ve been up and down," senior guard Steph Paluch said after the win over PSU, "but everyone is kind of starting to come together and figure out their roles a little more and I think being challenged by the coaches to do those roles well." 

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.