The Summit League Tournament kicks off today here in lovely Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Over the next four days, the conference will crown a men’s and a women’s division champion and send those teams to the NCAA Tournament.
Day number one opens with a women’s clash between the hometown favorite South Dakota State Jackrabbits (21-8, 16-2) and the IPFW Mastodons (9-20, 6-12).
SDSU comes in a heavy favorite in their home state. They’ve been perfect (quite literally) since the tournament came to Sioux Falls in 2008-09, winning three straight championships. Coincidentally, that three-year span is the total length of their D-1 championship eligibility.
IPFW’s regular season didn’t exactly go according to plan. They were picked to finish fourth in the league, but came in ninth place. If third place South Dakota had been eligible, the Dons wouldn’t have made the tournament. Jordan Zuppe, Chelsey Jackson and Sydney Weinert all graduated from last year’s squad, taking 28 points per game with them, not to mention Zuppe’s 122 assists.
Both teams feature their own version of The Mad Bomber in IPFW’s Anne Boese and SDSU’s Jill Young. Young has 292 career three-pointers, trailing only Boese’s 300 for the Summit League all-time record.
Still, this game will be determined by who controls the paint.
SDSU beat the Dons 81-58 in Brookings on New Year’s Eve, outscoring IPFW 28-12 in the lane. In the second matchup, IPFW fell 76-66 in Fort Wayne, but got 21 points from Stephanie Rosado, one of the top forwards in the conference.
IPFW hasn’t hit the 40 percent shooting mark yet against the Jacks. If they can push the ball into the paint, get Rosado going, and open up some shots on the perimeter, they’ll have a chance to pull an upset.
But SDSU has the second-rated scoring offense and scoring defense in the conference. There is a reason they are the top seed in the conference, and will look to prove that over the next few days.
Matt Pocket is the Sports Director at 88.3 FM WXOU and calls Oakland men’s and women’s basketball games.