South Dakota State (27-7) vs. Baylor (27-7)
Thursday, March 15, 7:27 p.m. (ET)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Pit (15,411) -- Albuquerque, New Mexico. Television: truTV. NCAA Tournament Record: SDSU 0-0, BU 6-8. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The 14th-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits will make their debut in the NCAA Tournament as they square off with the third-seeded Baylor Bears in a South Regional second round matchup at The Pit.
South Dakota State earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid by defeating Western Illinois, 52-50, in an overtime thriller in the Summit League Tournament Championship. The Jackrabbits only became a full-fledged Division I member four years ago, Coach Scott Nagy guided his team to wins in its last eight appearances to build momentum heading into its first Big Dance. The Jackrabbits showed they will not back down from top level competition earlier this season when they handled the Pac-12 regular season champion Washington Huskies, 92-73, in Seattle. The seven previous victories before the Summit League Tournament championship were by double-digit margins.
Baylor looked like it was among the elite of the NCAA this season as it began the year with 17 straight wins. The Bears came down to Earth in Big 12 play but still managed to finish strong. Coach Scott Drew led his squad to the conference tournament where it lost to the high-powered Missouri Tigers. Baylor reached the Elite Eight in its last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2010 under Scott Drew. T
This second-round matchup will be the first even encounter between South Dakota State and Baylor. The Bears are 8-4 all-time versus Summit League competition.
The Jackrabbits' Nate Wolters is one of the hidden gems in the NCAA. The junior guard is the only player in the nation averaging at least 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game. He is one of the few players capable of scoring 30-plus points or handing out 10 or more assists on any given night. Jordan Dykstra and Griffan Callahan both provide double-digit scoring averages for SDSU. Chad White adds additional scoring depth while Brayden Carlson and Tony Fiegan are serviceable role players.
Wolters will have to outshine Baylor's star studded lineup. The Bears managed to outscore their opponents by 10.0 ppg this season with their deep attack, which is headed by Perry Jones III. Baylor's sophomore forward is one of the most athletic and versatile players in the country. Jones III averages team- highs of 14.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Point guard Pierre Jackson is a strong second option as he is netting 13.3 ppg, while dishing out 5.6 assists per game. Quincy Miller and Quincy Acy are a dynamic forward combo. Acy is a very strong defender and rebounder. Jackson's ability to penetrate defenses provides Baylor's three talented forwards and shooting guard Brady Heslip open looks.
The Bears have yet to lose to a non-conference opponent this season. Baylor played strong offensive teams like Northwestern, BYU, Saint Mary's, and West Virginia earlier in the season and managed to get past them all. The Jackrabbits' first visit to the Big Dance will be brief if Jackson or Jones III get it going.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Baylor 85, South Dakota State 74
03/15 10:35:08 ET