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South Dakota State University And The Bison Sports Arena

by Dan Gunderson

The Summit League season is coming down to the wire and it is no surprise that one of the two teams right at the top of the standings is North Dakota State University. The other team nipping at the heels of the Bison is the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits.

This is coming as a bit of surprise as SDSU saw one of the greatest players in school history, Nate Wolters, graduate and leave for the NBA. The Jacks, the two-time defending Summit League champions, were expected to have some natural digression.

However, despite what the best of us thought, the Jacks have the second best league record at 8-3 with only three games to go on the schedule. Of course, one of those three is at the Bison Sports Arena, a place that has been extremely unkind to the Jacks.

I went back and took a look at the games between NDSU and SDSU at the Bison Sports Arena since the two teams joined the Summit League back in 2007 and wasn’t really shocked to see the results.

1/25/08 Bison Win 90-63
2/17/09 Bison Win 96-74
1/15/10 Bison Win 79-67
2/25/11 Bison Win 84-61
1/21/12 Bison Loss 91-88 OT
12/29/12 Bison Win 65-62

You are looking at a 5-1 record at home against SDSU for the Bison. You also have a margin of victory of 17 points per game. What is even more surprising then all of that, in the last four years, NDSU has finished with a worse record than SDSU.

Chalk it up home court advantage I suppose but it is almost comical as to how successful NDSU has been against SDSU at the BSA. If you throw in the last nine games at the BSA, NDSU is 7-2, and the margin of victory is up to 19 points.

2/26/05 Bison Loss 68-57
1/14/06 Bison Win 86-56
2/24/07 Bison Win 86-69

I look back at two games in particular that give me a sense why SDSU may be happier than NDSU head coach Saul Phillips to see the BSA come down.

The first one is back in 2011, when the Bison would finish with a 14-15 overall record and in seventh place overall in the Summit League standings. NDSU absolutely crushed the Jacks at home 84-61.

Nate Wolters was coming into his own as a guard for the Jacks but looked lost, shocked and out of sorts as he went 2-13 from the floor in a game that was over within the first seven minutes when NDSU jumped out to a 19-2 lead.

The second game I think back to is during the 2011-12 season when NDSU lost in overtime, 91-88. NDSU had come into the game winning the previous 10 games against the Jacks but it was evident the Jacks had the better team.

SDSU was coming in with a 7-1 league record and were on their way to the first of two Summit League tournament titles. The Bison were playing mostly freshman and sophomores. Down 10 with 4:30 left to go in the game, NDSU staged a late rally to tie the game up at the end of regulation.

Even though NDSU lost the game, it was proof that winning at the BSA for the Jacks is somewhat of a rarity. One great example of a rivalry is when the lesser of the two teams is still able to defend their home court, which NDSU has been able to do the last 9 games.

If NDSU is to win against SDSU this Saturday, a 2 p.m. tip-off at the BSA, the Bison will only need to win one more home game against either Denver University of the University of South Dakota to secure the number one seed and a first round bye in the Summit League tournament.

History would suggest NDSU is going to have no problem taking care of the Jacks in Fargo. For the Jacks sake, they better hope history doesn't repeat itself.

You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.