KVRR Round Table: NDSU MBB Summit League Tournament Preview

Bison Battle Mastodons in opening round of conference tournament.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (NDSU Athletics) — The No. 5-seeded North Dakota State men’s basketball team (14-16 overall, 5-9 Summit League) will play No. 4 seed Fort Wayne (18-13, 7-7 Summit) in the quarterfinals of the Summit League Tournament on Sunday, Mar. 4, at 6 p.m. inside the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. The winner will play the winner of No. 1 seed South Dakota State and No. 8 seed Western Illinois in the first semifinal on Monday night.

Mar. 4             vs. (4) Fort Wayne     6 p.m.

Mar. 5             Semifinals                     6 p.m.

Mar. 6             Championship             8 p.m.

Where to Watch: All quarterfinal and semifinal games of the Summit League Tournament will be broadcast on Midco Sports Network and be available on ESPN3 and the ESPN app. Tuesday’s championship game will be on ESPN2.

Radio: Each NDSU game will be broadcast on 107.9 The Fox and Bison1660, as well as being streamed on the 107.9 The Fox app, the Bison1660 app and GoBison.com/allaccess. Jeff Culhane (play-by-play) and Jeremy Jorgenson (analyst) will call the action.

What’s at Stake: The winner of the Summit League Championship receives an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. NDSU is looking for its third league tournament title in five years and its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.

Bison in Sioux Falls: NDSU is 12-6 all-time in Sioux Falls at the Summit League Tournament.

 

Title Talk: NDSU has won three Summit League Tournament crowns in nine seasons as a full member of the league — 2009, 2014 and 2015.

Five Seeds: NDSU is the only school in the past 34 years to advance to the championship game of the conference tournament in The Summit League as the No. 5 seed (formerly known as the Mid-Continent Conference and the Association of Mid-Continent Universities). Western Illinois won the 1984 conference tournament as the No. 5 seed, defeating No. 7 seed Cleveland State in the final. The Bison made the championship game as the five seed in 2016 before falling to South Dakota State.

History with Fort Wayne: Sunday is the 29th meeting between North Dakota State and Fort Wayne since 2005-06, with the series knotted at 14-14. The Mastodons have won three straight in the series. The Bison were victorious the last time the schools met in the conference tournament — a 69-68 comeback victory over the top-seeded Mastodons in a 2016 semifinal.

All-League Honors: Bison senior Paul Miller was named to the All-Summit League first team for the second straight year, and redshirt freshman guard Cameron Hunter earned All-Newcomer team honors.

Miller joined Brett Winkelman, Ben Woodside, Taylor Braun and Marshall Bjorklund as the only Bison to claim two first-team All-Summit League honors. Miller ranked second in the league with 21.8 points per game in conference play, and his 3.4 assists per game were third-most in the league.

Hunter joined Lawrence Alexander (2012) and A.J. Jacobson (2015) as Bison selected to The Summit League’s All-Newcomer team. Hunter averaged 10.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists in league play this season while shooting 47 percent from three-point range and 83 percent at the free throw line.

Against Fort Wayne: Bison seniors Paul Miller and A.J. Jacobson have strong career numbers against Fort Wayne. Miller has averaged 16.3 points in seven career games vs. the Mastodons. Jacobson has averaged 14.3 points in nine career games against Fort Wayne, shooting 28-for-48 (58 percent) from three-point range.

All Angles: Six different Bison have made at least three three-pointers in a game this season — Jared Samuelson, Paul Miller, Cameron Hunter, A.J. Jacobson, Tyson Ward and Chris Quayle.

Making Shots: NDSU ranks among the top 60 teams in the nation in all three shooting categories. The Bison are 41st in free throw percentage, 53rd in three-point percentage, and 57th in field goal percentage.

Locked In: A.J. Jacobson’s 89.7-percent free throw shooting this season would be the fifth-best season percentage in NDSU history (with a minimum of 50 FTs made).

Academic All-District: NDSU is the only Division I school in the country with two Academic All-District honorees this season. Seniors A.J. Jacobson and Paul Miller were both voted to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team on Feb. 22 and have advanced to the national ballot for Academic All-America honors. Jacobson joined Brett Winkelman (2007-09) as the only NDSU men’s basketball players to earn the Academic All-District distinction three times.

Doesn’t Happen Often: North Dakota State’s four straight losses between Feb. 1 and Feb. 10 made its first four-game losing streak since ending the 2011-12 season with four straight defeats.

Exclusive Club: Paul Miller is the sixth player in NDSU history to record at least 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in his career. He joins Steve Saladino (1972-76), Denver TenBroek (1999-03), Brett Winkelman (2005-09), Taylor Braun (2010-14) and Lawrence Alexander (2011-15).

Miller on the Career Charts: Paul Miller enters the tournament seventh in school history with 1,676 career points, 18 shy of tying Jeff Askew for sixth place (1,694 points from 1979-83).  Miller also ranks second in career 3-pointers attempted (636) and fourth in 3-pointers made (239).

Geu’s Game: Sophomore Deng Geu scored 12 points in back-to-back games against South Dakota State on Feb. 1 and South Dakota on Feb. 3. Those performances tied for his third-highest scoring output against a Division I opponent, trailing only his 18 points at No. 7 Xavier last season and his 16 points vs. UNC Wilmington on Dec. 21 of this season.

20-Plus: Paul Miller scored 20 or more points in nine consecutive games, with the streak ending with a 17-point performance at SDSU on Feb. 1. In NDSU’s Division I era, no other Bison has ever scored 20-plus in more than five straight games.

Defensive Lockdown: The Bison clamped down defensively in their two victories over Omaha this season, holding the Mavericks to two of their three lowest scoring outputs of the season — 58 points in Fargo on Jan. 25, and 62 points in Omaha on Feb. 24.

Solid Senior: Although A.J. Jacobson’s scoring average is down this season, he is having the most efficient year of his career. Jacobson’s field goal percentage (.468), three-point percentage (.436), and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9) are all the best of his career.

Record Rate on 3-Pointers: The Bison are making 9.3 three-pointers per game this season, which is nearly on pace to match the school record of 9.4 treys made per game in the 2001-02 season. In the Division I era, the NDSU season record for threes per game is 7.7 last season.

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