In Aesop’s famous fable The Tortoise and the Hare, the hare was overly confident when the tortoise challenges him to a race. So confident that he takes a nap halfway through. The tortoise ends up winning the race and embarrasses the hare.
SDSU fans will see a different version of this fable when the SDSU Jackrabbit men’s basketball team takes on the Maryland Terrapins on Friday afternoon in Spokane, Washington. This version will be flip-flopped, though, at least from an outsider’s perspective.
Maryland (25-8) comes into the game as a five seed from the mighty Big Ten while SDSU (26-7) is a 12 seed and the only team out of the Summit League. The Terps came into the season as the third-ranked team in the country. They started out the season 15-1 but have gone just 10-7 since and have lost five of their last eight. They finished the season third in the Big Ten and reached the Big Ten Tournament semifinal but fell to eventual champion Michigan State.
Maryland is led by a couple of five-star recruits in sophomore point guard Melo Trimble and freshman center Diamond Stone. Trimble comes into the game averaging a team high 14.4 points and 5.1 assists. Stone comes into the game averaging 12.9 points a game on 56 percent shooting and 5.5 rebounds a game.
The Jacks went 14-3 in the non-conference and 12-4 in the Summit League which earned them a share of the regular season conference title. They then won back-to-back games by three and one in the first two games of the Summit League Tournament. They then defeated NDSU 67-59 in the Summit League Championship game to earn the auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament for the third time ever.
SDSU is led by redshirt freshman Mike Daum, who no one thought would be this good this early in his career. Daum averages a team high 15.2 points a game while shooting 56 percent and averages a team high 6.1 rebounds a game. He is one of the most efficient players in the country as he is fourth in efficiency rating. They are also led by a senior backcourt in George Marshall and Deondre Parks. Marshall comes into the game averaging 14.9 points a game while Parks is averaging 14.7 points a game. Marshall is coming off a poor shooting performance in the Summit League Tournament where he went just 4-26 from the field and scored just 17 points in the three games. The Jacks will definitely need him to get out of that slump if they want a chance to win.
The Jacks are outsized as Maryland has two players that are 6’11 and over 250 pounds in Diamond Stone and back up junior center Damonte Dodd. SDSU will need to find their touch from beyond the arc because the Jacks only have one guy that’s 6’10 in Connor Devine and he only weighs 235 pounds.
One thing the Jacks will have an advantage in is distance traveled. Brookings is 1,243.3 miles from Spokane, while College Park, where Maryland is located is 2,488.3 miles. It will probably be neutral as far as fan support for both teams so that helps SDSU.
The game is scheduled to tip at 3:30 p.m. on Friday March 18, at the Spokane Memorial Arena and will be televised TBS. Jackrabbit Nation is hoping that this time the hare beats the tortoise to give SDSU it’s first ever tournament victory.