They haven’t always been the regular season champs or tourney favorite, but for the past three years, once the dust settles in Sioux Falls, it’s been South Dakota State holding the ticket. Since Mike Daum arrived in Brookings, he’s won three Summit League player of the year awards, three conference tournament MVPs, scored 3,000 points, grabbed 1,000 rebounds and led the Jacks to the tournament every single year. He looks to cap off his career with a fourth and final run to the Big Dance for the Rabbits.
When and Where: March 9th-12th at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Defending Champ: SDSU Jackrabbits
Who’s Good: SDSU
Who’s Sneaky: Nebraska Omaha
Who Stinks Out Loud: Denver. Disastrous season in the Mile High, winners of only one road game.
Coolest Team Nickname: Truly, a treasure trove of great nicknames here. Jackrabbits, Coyotes, Leathernecks, Mavericks are all awesome and original but, it’s pretty obvious that the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons deserve the honor here.
Seeding and rules: Real straightforward 8-team bracket, all played at the neutral site. Denver doesn’t get to play, as they were deemed too bad at basketball to participate.
Multi-Bid League: Nope. SDSU is a projected 14 seed, anyone that can take down the giant would be a likely 15/16.
Breakdown: While they are the #1 seed and presumptive league representative, SDSU has lost to both Omaha and PFW this season, albeit both times on the road. While the media hype has been on Daum’s milestones and the Jacks seemingly-inevitable return to the tournament, Omaha has quietly had a nice little season and finished just one game back in the conference standings. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Jackrabbits rip through this field but, as a bettor it’s tough to lay that kind of chalk.
My Pick(s): South Dakota State has the pedigree, the results, the experience and the best player. That said, I think they’re priced a bit high. The implied probability of their outright is between 65-73% depending on your book. My numbers like them but, I think Omaha and Purdue Fort Wayne are a lot closer to them than the prices imply. So, I’ll be looking for a way to bet the Jackrabbits in the final as a hedge against one of these.
Omaha +650 (0.25x)
Purdue Fort Wayne +1000 (0.25x)