The final day Saturday of the year for regular season games is upon us. Tomorrow is the final day to make an impact in the regular season, and then the tournament action is really going to take off. There are already some tournaments that are in the thick of their conference tournaments.
If you look for them Saturday, you can find mid-major tournament games on the slate. Almost half of the games on the schedule appear to be lower conference tournament matchups, including in the Summit League. The Summit League Tournament is just getting underway, and we have a matchup between the No. 8 and No. 1 team in the conference today.
The Nebraska Omaha Mavericks will look to pull off the upset of the season in the Summit League against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits on Saturday evening. It’s likely going to require an A+ effort, and some breaks to go in the Mavericks’ direction, but this is conference tournament time, and the unexpected does happen.
If Omaha were to win and go to the Summit League title game, then that would make for some crazy March Madness. How probable is that happening? It’s highly unlikely that Omaha even wins on Saturday, let alone knocks off South Dakota State. For the Jackrabbits, they have to keep their cool and treat this like a new season. They can’t look at the Mavericks’ 5-19 record and believe this is going to be an easy assignment.
Along with an overall mark of 5-19, Omaha finished the regular season at 3-11 in the conference. Tough sledding for Omaha, but they made it into the conference tournament somehow. There was one team worse than them in the Summit League, with Denver going 2-19 on the season.
Omaha is coming off two wins over Denver, 80-76 back-to-back, to solidify a spot in the conference tournament. It was the first time this season that they won consecutively this season, both wins coming versus one of the worst teams in the NCAA. Head below for our free Nebraska Omaha vs. South Dakota State pick on March 6, 2021.
Nebraska Omaha Mavericks vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits NCAA Betting Odds:
Nebraska Omaha vs. South Dakota State Prediction:
Omaha will have to swing for the fence and hope for the best on Saturday against the Jackrabbits. They must take some chances, or this game will quickly get away from them. The Mavericks can’t let this game come to them and allow South Dakota State to dictate the pace. South Dakota State has been able to do that against most teams they’ve played this season. Including the regular season meeting against Omaha on February 8 in a 81-64 final score. It was primarily their sharp shooting from the outside that got the Jackrabbits the No. 1 seed.
South Dakota State is one of the best teams in the country at shooting the three ball. If you give them any room from outside, the Jackrabbits can quickly stack up the points in a hurry. South Dakota State is shooting 40.2% from the field free beyond the arc for second in the country. They also shoot at a high-percentage from pretty well anywhere on the floor. Note that South Dakota State is connecting at a 49.6% clip for 15th in the NCAA. Overall in the 2020-21 campaign, the Jackrabbits are 28th in the NCAA with 79.9 points per game.
Playing porous defenses in the Summit League like Omaha plays a role in South Dakota State scoring how they do. That goes for Omaha, who has struggled mightily to slow offenses down from scoring. The Mavericks are 318th with 77.7 points conceded per game. They’ve also allowed teams to shoot 46.3% from the field. I’m sure the South Dakota State offense should be able to at least score into the 80’s again versus Omaha.
Their perimeter defense is the most worrisome aspect of this game for the Mavericks. They’re 336th in the country at defending the three. Against a team like South Dakota State that can shoot from outside, it’s not a recipe to have for an upset. The Omaha offense, which netted 67.2 points per game for 278th, likely can’t keep up with the Jackrabbits on Saturday evening. I was expecting South Dakota State to be 17-point favorites in this spot, so I will jump on the 14 in what looks like a 83-65 game in the first-round of the Summit League Tournament.