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Pinto's Preview: NDSU vs. South Dakota

by Dan Gunderson

The North Dakota State University men’s and women’s basketball teams play a critical mid-season Summit League game against the University of South Dakota tonight. While the women are trying to get out of the cellar, the men are trying to stay in the penthouse.

For the Coyotes, they are still trying establish some identity in the league. While the women have struggled out of the gate, the men have been a pleasant surprise. Both teams will be looking to pick up a victory against an old NCC rival.

NDSU Bison 15-5 (4-1) @ University of South Dakota Coyotes 8-11 (3-2) 7 p.m. (790/KFGO)

·   The Bison are 13-2 in their last 15 games. Both of those losses have come on the road for NDSU and that is an advantage for the Coyotes, who are 7-1 so far this season at home, including 3-0 in league play at home. The ‘Yotes, who beat Fort Wayne at home 75-61, are a much better team offensively at home, averaging 79 points per game, which is nine points higher than their season average.

·   Coach Saul Phillips likes to talk about how good his team is defensively but offensively, NDSU is one of the best teams in the Summit League. They are averaging 79.8 points per game in league play so far this season, along with averaging the least amount of turnovers a game, 10, and shooting the highest percentage from the field, 51 percent, in league play.

·   NDSU holds a distinct advantage in the league when it comes to shot blocking. This has allowed for the Bison to get quick baskets in transition. USD will look to attack this by going down low to big man Trevor Gruis, a 6’10” center who leads the ‘Yotes in scoring this season.

Prediction: NDSU 80 USD 65

University of South Dakota Coyotes 10-10 (1-4) @ NDSU Bison 5-15 (1-4) 7 p.m. (740/Fan)

·   Both of these teams are looking to get out of the cellar of the Summit League, tied for worst league record at 1-4. USD is giving up nearly 80 points per game in league play, but NDSU has the league’s worst shooting percentage at 35 percent in league play. NDSU will get open looks. The real question is can they final start making them.

·   USD is a fast starting team, outscoring their opponents in the first half by 52 points. However, they are being outscored in the second half by 26. Look for NDSU to try and match USD’s first half intensity.

·   NDSU’s Brooke Lemar has scored 20 or more points eight times this year and has scored 20 or more points in three straight games. However, Lemar is only shooting 33 percent in league play this season. Knocking down open shots and a quick start are key to NDSU’s success against USD so look for the Bison to try and get Lemar going early.

Prediction: NDSU 68 USD 67

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.