Basketball break

Have no fear, there will be more coverage from football signing day in this space on Friday. Just giving it a chance to breath …

Four games on deck for the South Dakota State basketball teams this weekend and three of them are showdowns of teams with Summit League championship aspirations.

The SDSU women – winners of seven in a row – open the second half of the conference slate by visiting Fort Wayne tonight and IUPUI on Saturday. The Jacks (7-0), Mastodons (4-3) and Jaguars (6-1) are the only clubs with winning records in the league.
SDSU beat both at Frost Arena last month and have dominated the all-time series. But there were interesting moments in those recent contests. Plus, the Jacks got beat the last time they visited Indy and have several close calls at Fort Wayne. And the set could be complicated by the order – the more physical opponent being second.
To that end, SDSU would be a 1-point underdog Saturday based on the current Sagarin Ratings. RealTimeRPI.com projects the Jacks will prevail one by a point tonight and fall Saturday. Of course, two wins or two losses would be more dramatic.

The SDSU men face the same teams in the same order except at Frost Arena. The Fort Wayne men are the surprise of the league so far, sitting in first place by one game at the halfway mark. That could change quickly – or not – this week as the Dons (6-1) visit the defending regular-season champion Jacks (4-3) and the preseason favorite North Dakota State (5-2) on Saturday.
(Quick aside: The Bison play 5 of 7 at home in this half of the conference schedule, a considerable advantage given their record there.)
SDSU dropped an 82-75 decision at Fort Wayne in Round 1 of league play with the Dons going plus-7 in rebound margin with a 42-16 advantage in points in the pain.
"If you really go back and look it was a miracle we were even in that game," Jacks coach Scott Nagy said.
And SDSU had dominated the series of late. But this Fort Wayne club is offensively balanced and has a couple of big bodies in the paint.
Surprisingly, the Jacks are favored by 5, according to 5dimes. Making good on that would add to the momentum they gained last week, while another home loss – the third in a row? – would stop it completely.

Finally, a couple programming notes: No live chat this afternoon, but I will have a live game blog from the SDSU men’s game beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.