With one week left in the regular season, the men’s and women’s basketball teams find themselves at opposite ends of the Summit League spectrum.
In the 117-year history of NDSU men’s basketball, there have been just 13 conference championships. This week will be the week of truth in search of number 14.
“It’s Championship Week: Week One,” head coach David Richman said.
Currently, NDSU and South Dakota are tied for first in the Summit League, both with two games to play. NDSU travels to Oral Roberts Wednesday before heading to Omaha on Saturday. USD heads to Western Illinois midweek before rounding the regular season off against IUPUI on Saturday.
The week comes following one of the most grueling weeks of the year, with a loss at Fort Wayne and a double-overtime thriller win over Western Illinois.
“There is no time to be tired, there is no time to be fatigued right now, you have to go out to execute,” Richman said. “We have to get better.”
With some of the struggles the team has had at times in recent games, which will be important. In the home games against both teams this week, the Bison did not hit full stride in the first half. NDSU has shot 49 percent in the second half.
The Bison have secured a top-two spot in the Summit League Tournament. Despite that, there is some work that needs to get done.
“Certainly, momentum would be great, of course we want to take care of business,” Richman said. “So much at the mid-major level goes in those three, four days in March at the conference tournament.”
For the women, it is a fight for confidence heading into the playoffs.
“What our kids thrive off of, regardless of the outcome of the game, but when we are competitive, is playing for each other,” head coach Maren Walseth said. “We feel like we are getting better, and we are getting better.”
Being competitive has been an issue for the team at times. An eight-game losing streak showed that the team can struggle.
Seven of the eight were losses by double-digits, the lone exception was at bottom of the league Fort Wayne.
That streak finally snapped against Denver last week.
Now the comforts of the SHAC are done, and that means hitting the road where the Bison have just one win outside of Fargo.
“This is going to be the longest road trip (of the season), but we are going to make it a fun one,” Walseth said.
It will be a road trip over 1,600 miles this week as the women travel to Omaha and then Tulsa to take on Oral Roberts.
If the Bison want to take some good feelings into Sioux Falls, they will need to turn around large losses suffered at home.
Both the Mavericks and Golden Eagles took 20-point wins from Fargo last month.
The key for the Bison would start at their own end.
“The energy on the defensive end … when we are locked in (on defense), we continue to improve and shots fall on the other end,” Walseth said.
Against ORU last month, the Golden Eagles pulled down 13 offensive boards and turned them into 18 second-chance points.
As it stands, the Bison look to have booked a position in the eight-team field in Sioux Falls. With a one game lead over Denver and two over Fort Wayne, the Bison look to set up shop in the Summit League tournament.
The tournament will be held in Sioux Falls March 4-7 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.