Men’s basketball eyes return to NCAA tourney

The SDSU men’s basketball team starts the 2015-2016 season on Friday when they take on Chadron State at 8:30 p.m. in Frost Arena.

The Jackrabbits had a very good season last year finishing with an overall record of 24-11 and were the regular season champions in the Summit League finishing with a record of 12-4.

Although the Jacks came up one point short in reaching the NCAA Tournament, they won their first-ever National Invitational Tournament game when they upset the No. 1 seed Colorado State 86-76 before falling to Vanderbilt 92-77.

They lost their leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, Cody Larson. Four out of the five starters returned, including their leading scorer Deondre Parks, who averaged 14.1 points-per-game. Their starting lineup will include three seniors with George Marshall at point guard, Parks at shooting guard and Jake Bittle at forward. It will also include two sophomores with Reid Tellinghuisen at the other forward and Ian Thiesen at center. 

The Jacks added two freshmen guards to their team. Cole Gentry, a point guard from Sioux Falls, and Tevin King, a shooting guard from Chicago. Head Coach Scott Nagy has not announced if either of them will redshirt.

Point guard Keaton Moffit also returned. He will be a key player off of the bench. It seems as though redshirt freshman forward Mike Daum will see a role off the bench.

SDSU was picked to win the Summit League for a second-straight season by both the coaches and the media. Parks, Bittle and Marshall were all part of the preseason First team All-Summit League team.

The best-case scenario: they get through their non-conference schedule with only one or two losses and maybe beat power five schools in TCU, Texas Tech and Minnesota. Then breeze through the Summit League and head into the Summit League Tournament as the No. 1 seed and make the NCAA Tournament as a power mid-major and win a couple games in the tournament.

Their worst-case scenario would be one of their seniors getting injured in the non-conference portion of the schedule. The team struggles to replace them and misses postseason all together.

The Jacks enter the season with a 17-game winning streak at Frost Arena after going undefeated there last season. Their last loss at home was in January of 2014. It looks as if they could go undefeated again this year with a pretty weak non-conference schedule and a down year in the Summit League.

Last year they were predicted to finish fifth in the conference and surprised everyone.