2 to 1 odds

The SDSU men’s basketball team finished their regular season last week with a record of 23-7 and 12-4 in the Summit League giving them a share of the regular season league title, which they split with IPFW.  

The Jacks will be the second seed in the Summit league tournament, while Fort Wayne is seeded first. 

This is SDSU’s third regular season league title and the second year in a row they earned a share of it.

The Jacks will head to Sioux Falls this week for the Summit League Tournament at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. This is the second year that the tournament will be played there.

“All eight teams are going to play a good team,” SDSU Head Coach Scott Nagy said. “Nothing’s any different in terms of the way we prepare.”

The Jacks finished second in the tournament last year, falling to NDSU 57-56 in the championship game. This is something that the Jacks are using as motivation.

“It’s a bit of a motivating factor,” said senior forward Jake Bittle. “I feel like we’ve used it as motivation all year, but I think now it’s just a fresh start for us.”

The Jacks have four of their five starters from last year’s team, including their leading scorer. Senior guard George Marshall is averaging 16 points and 2.6 assists per game.

“Everything is on the line right now,” Marshall said. “We have to play every second like it’s our last and make the most of it.”

One of the key contributors for the Jacks has been redshirt freshman Mike Daum. It will be his first Summit League Tournament, and he’s ready to go.

“I got to watch it last year and experience everything,” Daum said. “The seniors have talked to me and told me what it’s going to be like. I just have to keep my head down, play hard and I’ll be fine.”

SDSU is the No. 2 seed and will be taking on Oral Roberts for the second straight game. The Jacks defeated the Golden Eagles Saturday, Feb. 27 73-65, but feel there is still a lot to work on heading into the game.

“Even though we won, we didn’t play well at all,” Marshall said. “We had a lot of defensive breakdowns, a lot of things we pride ourselves on we didn’t do Saturday.”

One of the keys for the Jacks in their first round game is to contain the league’s scoring leading, Obi Emegano. Emegano scored 22 points Saturday and averages 23.4 points a game. The guy who will be in charge of doing this is Bittle.

“I’m gonna do the best I can to make shots tough for him,” Bittle said. “I think to beat them we have to be tougher and fight for loose balls and rebounds.”

The Jacks were the top seed last year, so they’re no stranger to being one of the top dogs. The team doesn’t seem to let that get in their head, though.

“We’ve never done that,” Nagy said. “Oral Roberts is all we will talk about this week and I don’t think there is anything we have to say to our kids about that.”

 Nagy’s team knows that one loss means their season could be potentially over. If that happens, their goal of making the NCAA Tournament goes down the drain.

 “We just focus one game at a time,” Daum said. “Every game is like a championship game from now on and we just have to focus on that one game and get to the next one.”

Bittle knows this more than anyone on the team, being his fourth Summit League Tournament and his last go around.

 “I’m excited. This is the best time of year,” Bittle said. “It’s all about embracing the moment, you can’t be looking ahead in these tournaments. Each team can probably come out on top, so we have to come into every game knowing it isn’t going to be easy.”

 The Jacks will take on the  Golden Eagles 8:30 p.m. Saturday.