IUPU-Ft. Wayne (8-9) at North Dakota State (13-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 10, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bison Sports Arena (6,000) -- Fargo, North Dakota Television: FCS, Midco Sports Net. Home Record: IPFW 6-0, NDSU 6-0. Away Record: IPFW 1-8, NDSU 5-3. Neutral Record: IPFW 1-1, NDSU 2-0. Conference Record: IPFW 1-2, NDSU 4-0. Series Record: IPFW leads, 8-6.
GAMES NOTES: The North Dakota State Bison will look to extend a five-game winning streak on Thursday night when they host the IUPU-Ft. Wayne Mastodons in a Summit League battle at Bison Sports Arena.
The Mastodons will be trying to continue building their own winning streak on Thursday after having won two straight entering play. IPFW topped Nebraska- Omaha, 96-73, last Saturday after a 68-63 win over Navy. The Mastodons are now 8-9 this season but success on the road has been hard to come by as IPFW has just one win in nine tries away from home.
On Saturday North Dakota State easily got by UMKC, 63-44, to earn its fifth straight win and third straight on the road. The Bison are now returning to their home arena where they have yet to lose in six games this season. North Dakota State is also perfect through its first four conference games and will take on Oakland this Saturday.
In last year's season series these teams split two meetings, with the home team victorious each time. The Mastodons have won four of the last five matchups and lead the all-time series, 8-6.
In its win over Nebraska-Omaha, IPFW was red hot from beyond the arc and ended up nailing 14 shots from long distance on 24 attempts. The Mastodons also had a sizable advantage from the charity stripe (26-12), while shooting an even 50 percent for the game to earn the 23-point victory.
The offensive outburst was certainly out of character for IPFW which is scoring just 66.9 points per game and shooting 41.3 percent from the field this season. The Mastodons have managed to hold a positive scoring margin (+3.0) by holding teams to 63.9 points per game. Part of that comes from IPFW's dominance on the boards as they rank at the top of the Summit League in the category (37.6 pg), while owning a +5.4 differential on the glass. Powering the Mastodons on the offensive end is Frank Gaines (19.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg), who is the third-highest scoring player in the conference. Gaines has scored more than 20 points in seven games this season, including a 26-point effort against Nebraska-Omaha. Luis Jacobo (10.6 ppg) serves as the closest thing to a second option.
North Dakota State clamped down on defense against UMKC and held the Kangaroos to just 32.5 percent shooting overall by forcing twice as many turnovers (14) as its opposition collected (seven). The Bison also had a 37-25 edge on the boards in the contest, while outscoring UMKC 40-18 on points in the paint.
North Dakota State has not only been one of the highest scoring teams in the Summit League, but one of the most efficient as well. The Bison are shooting the best percentage from the field (.477) among conference teams while ranking second (71.2 ppg) in scoring. North Dakota State doesn't suffer much of a drop off on the other end as the Bison are holding teams to just 578.1 points per game on 37.7 percent shooting. Both of those marks are among the 25 best in the country. The top offensive option for the Bison is Taylor Braun (15.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) as he leads the team in scoring. Marshall Bjorklund (13.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg) has perhaps been the more reliable scorer as the 6-foot-8 forward has hit on an incredible 69.6 percent of his field goal attempts, which is the second- best mark in the nation.
With how well the Bison play on both ends of the floor and with the inside- outside scoring of Braun and Bjorklund, its hard to see IPFW going into Bison Sports Arena and pulling off the upset.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 76, IUPU-Ft. Wayne 66
01/10 10:35:16 ET