Starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, South Dakota State and North Dakota State will square off in three meaningful contests – men’s basketball, women’s basketball and wrestling – in about 24 hours. I’ll have live coverage of the first event in Fargo.
Here are some notes leading up to it:
The weekend kicks off with men’s hoops in Fargo, the second-place Jacks looking to pull even with the first-place Bison. SDSU is the hottest team in the Summit League with six wins in a row. NDSU coach Saul Phillips said that Jacks counterpart Scott Nagy has his vote for coach of the year.
"He had a plan the whole year long and when the guys finally caught it they became contenders," Phillips said.
A crowd of 5,000 or more is expected for the contest. However, the game will not air on television in South Dakota nor will GoJacks.com video subscribers have free access to the Bison web feed unlike in years past. That’s because NDSU has changed hosting companies.
The women’s basketball game is set for 4 p.m. Saturday at Frost Arena. That features SDSU trying to stay alone in first place and grow closer to a third straight regular-season title hosting a Bison squad that’s in last place and on the search for a new coach. That’s because Carolyn DeHoff on Thursday announced she’ll resign at the end of the season.
The Jacks may not known until game day if leading scorer Megan Waytashek will be available. She suffered what coach Aaron Johnston called a run-of-the-mill ankle sprain last week against Western Illinois. He said the junior has been doing work on the side during practice, and was on track to start jogging Thursday afternoon.
"I want her back as soon as possible," he said. "This time of year the longer people are out the longer it takes to get into a flow, and we have a lot going on the next couple weeks."
On Sunday, the Jacks will visit the Bison in a regular-season finale for the Western Wrestling Conference title. Nationally ranked NDSU is the defending champ and beat SDSU earlier this season in Brookings.
If the Jacks have any edge it’s in terms of being more rested. The Bison will be competing for the fifth time in eight days. That includes three times at the National Duals in Columbus, Ohio, and a Friday contest against Wyoming.
SDSU’s last event was Sunday.
"We’ve got a chance to win the conference," Jacks coach Chris Bono said. "Our guys are real high right now. It’s a different group of guys than the ones that wrestled NDSU back in November. I’ve got a team that believes in themselves and believes in our system."
Bono figures SDSU has to win six of the 10 matches, that five won’t be enough.
The Jacks haven’t won a conference title since 1997.
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.