The North Dakota State University men’s and women’s basketball teams split with Western Illinois University on Thursday. The men grinded out a 56-52 victory over the Leathernecks in Macomb, Ill. The women were defeated by WIU at the BSA 76-68.
Next up for the Bison is the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks cannot qualify for the Summit League tournament but that hasn’t caused them to be an easy out in the Summit League this season.
NDSU Bison 19-6 (8-2) @ University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 15-10 (4-5) 4 p.m. (790/KFGO)
· Last time out, NDSU played nearly flawless against Omaha on their way to a 91-69 victory in Fargo. Omaha’s down fall in that game was their inability to control the paint. They were outscored 42-24 in the paint and will need to control the lane in order to keep NDSU within striking distance.
· Omaha has the league’s top offense as they average 80.7 points per game. The reason being is they are unselfish, averaging 15.8 assists per game, also top in the league. Omaha has four players averaging 10 or more points per game. NDSU will have their hands full on defense.
· This game will be won or lost depending on how NDSU does down in the post, both offensively and defensively. NDSU had 11 blocks against Omaha last time out and currently is averaging 4.5 blocks per game in league play. Meanwhile, in Omaha’s last game, a 77-60 loss to South Dakota State University, the Mavs were outscored in the paint 48-16. NDSU will most likely feed Marshall Bjorklund, Jordan Aaberg and whoever has an advantage in the post area throughout this game.
Prediction: NDSU 85 Omaha 73
University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 9-14 (1-8) @ NDSU Bison 6-19 (2-8) 2 p.m. (740/Fan)
· Omaha’s only league win this season came at home against NDSU when they upended the Bison 66-48. NDSU shot 29 percent from the field and 14 percent from three in that game. NDSU will be looking to make some shots early in order to get some confidence. That is going to be a tough order against the league’s third best scoring defense.
· NDSU is giving up an average of 42 rebounds per game. Make that 43 a game in league play alone. NDSU will need to buck this trend, rebound better and take advantage of second chance opportunities.
· Omaha is currently in the midst of a seven game losing streak where they are losing by an average of nearly 15 points a game. Not that NDSU has been doing much better, losers of five of their last six. If NDSU wants to avoid playing either SDSU or IUPUI in the first round of the Summit League, they need to win this game. They have Denver University and the University of South Dakota, the next closest teams in the standings, on the road to end the season.
Prediction: NDSU 72 Omaha 70
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.