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Pinto's Preview: NDSU vs. Fort Wayne (02/08/2014)

by Dan Gunderson

While the North Dakota State University men’s basketball team ended up winning ugly on Thursday night, 66-60 over IUPUI, the women were not as lucky as they dropped their sixth Summit League game of the year to IUPUI 77-53.

With a Fort Wayne loss to South Dakota State University on Thursday, the men’s game against the Mastodons is now a battle for first place in the Summit League. For the women, it is a chance to avenge a double overtime loss to Fort Wayne back on January 9.

Fort Wayne Mastodons 18-7 (6-2) @ NDSU Bison 17-6 (6-2) 4 p.m. (790/KFGO)

· Both teams understand the importance of this contest. For the Bison, a win puts them a full game in front of Fort Wayne with only five games remaining in the league schedule. For Fort Wayne, it would be a two game advantage, one game in the standings plus the tie breaker, as they approach the end of the season.

· The Bison have an extremely upset Mastodons team on their hands today as Fort Wayne is coming off a 79-51 loss to the Jacks. Fort Wayne’s best chance to beat NDSU is to go right after a struggling Marshall Bjorklund in the post. Bjorklund’s last three games have been ugly. Bjorklund is shooting 41 percent in those games while averaging just eight points per game and nearly four fouls a game.

· Taylor Braun will be key in this game. Last time out against the Mastodons, NDSU’s star guard had six of his team’s 15 turnovers in the 82-71 loss in Fort Wayne. Braun was not aggressive in his offense Thursday against IUPUI but he cannot afford to be passive with NDSU’s recent offensive struggles. Look for Braun to try and attack the rim early in this game.

Prediction: NDSU 77 Fort Wayne 75

dYou 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.