Conference: Summit League
Coach: T. J. Otzelberger
Record: 17-16 (8-8 T-4)
Ratings and Rankings:
– Kenpom: 182
– RPI: 168
– AP/USA Today: N/A
Seeding: Despite a 17-16 record, not only could South Dakota State avoid the First Four in Dayton, the Jackrabbits will likely jump ahead of the No. 16-line. Expect South Dakota State to be a No. 15 seed.
Names you need to know: Mike Daum is drawing interest from NBA franchises, and anyone who watched Tuesday night’s 37-point(5-of-9 from three), 12-rebound performance can see why. The 6-foot-9 sophomore now gets a chance to go from one of college basketball’s best-kept secrets and into the national spotlight.
Stats you need to know: 51: Mike Daum wasn’t the first player to score 50 in a game this season, but he did register the highest point total of 2016-17, scoring 51 in a win over Fort Wayne on Feb. 18. It was the most points scored in a college basketball since since South Dakota State legend Nate Wolters scored 53 in Feb. 2013.
Big wins, bad losses: South Dakota State beat in-state rival South Dakota twice, including in the Summit League Tournament semifinal. A four-game skid in January included losses to Western Illinois and Oral Roberts, the worst two teams in the conference.
How’d they get here?: Mike Daum scored 33 in a quarterfinal win over No. 5 seed Denver. In a matchup with top-seeded South Dakota, a different Mike — Michael Orris — sunk a deep two-pointer from the wing with 1.4 seconds remaining to squash the NCAA Tournament hopes of the Jackrabbits’ in-state rival. The finals against No. 3 seeded Omaha, featured 13 lead changes, but Daum was brilliant down the stretch.
Outlook: The Jackrabbits are back in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and fourth time since 2012. Although, they have yet to win a game. Projected as a No. 15 seed, the odds will be against the Jackrabbits once again. However, Daum has the capability to become a breakout star in the next few weeks. If I was the coach of a team slotted against him, I’d likely be losing sleep.
How do I know you?: Nate Wolters.