This week’s weekly segment is Summit League-based in light of the basketball tournament concluding today at the Arena:
Two-time U.S. Open champion golfer Andy North attended the Monday night games. The Wisconsin resident is friends with North Dakota State coaches Saul Phillips and Will Ryan and South Dakota State assistant Joe Krabbenhoft.
SDSU is the first Summit women’s team to lose just one game in the league season and not reach the tournament final.
Also, SDSU did not match Valpo in being able to reach both the men’s and women’s finals three years in a row. The Crusaders did that from 2002-04.
The SDSU men had been 15-1 when allowing less than 70 points. Then again, they’d also made a 3-pointer in the first half of every game this season. (In fact, it had been at least two seasons.) Both went awry Monday.
Jacks coach Scott Nagy said he was unsure sophomore guard Jake Bittle would be able to play due to an ailing foot. He missed eight games with a foot problem early this season.
If SDSU makes a postseason event, Bittle may be held out.
Jacks junior Zach Horstman started in place of Bittle, the first nod of his career.
The Jacks-Fort Wayne game is the only single-digit decision so far in the men’s bracket.
Attendance update: The three-session total in the women’s bracket is 12,347 through three sessions and the men 16,569.
Last year, the event totaled 21,158 on the women’s side and 23,710 for the men. Both were Summit records. This year’s tourney has two fewer games.
Former SDSU star Nate Wolters, now a starting guard for the Milwaukee Bucks, returns to his home state of Minnesota tonight to take on the Timberwolves. It’ll be his first regular-season NBA game at Target Center, located roughly an hour from his hometown of St. Cloud.
No. 6 Denver (9-22) vs. No. 4 USD (18-13), 1 p.m.
Sagarin says: Coyotes by 8
Series: DU leads 2-1
Season results: DU won 91-84 at home and USD won 88-67 at home.
Of note: This is the first 4 vs. 6 title game since 2003 and the second in league history … USD is in the final for the second in as many years since becoming eligible … The Pioneers have two players from Minnesota and each one from Iowa and Nebraska. … The Coyotes have never been to the Division I tournament (this is only their second year of eligibility), while Denver hasn’t been there since 2001.
No. 2 Fort Wayne (24-9) vs. No. 1 NDSU (24-6), 8 p.m.
Sagarin says: Bison by 5
Series: Tied 9-9
Season results: IPFW won 82-71 at home and NDSU prevailed 69-58 in Fargo.
Of note: This is the first championship berth in men’s or women’s basketball for Fort Wayne since joining the Summit in 2007 … NDSU is the 20th No. 1 seed in 21 years to reach the title game. The Bison also won the tourney in 2009. … NDSU is coming off the most lopsided semifinal win in tourney history, besting Denver by 35. … The Mastodons had been 0-4 this season against conference foes when scoring less than 65 points, a streak they ended by beating the Jacks.
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.