For tonight’s SCGD, we return to the top of the conference standings. In fact, there are quite a few great battles today among teams at the top of their conferences. These games include Canisius at Loyola, Davidson at College of Charleston, Belmont at Tennessee State, Arkansas-Little Rock at Arkansas State, Montana at Weber State and of course Gonzaga at St. Mary’s. However, our focus tonight will be in Fargo, North Dakota as the Summit League-leading Western Illinois Leathernecks travel to take on the North Dakota State Bison.
Western Illinois has been a surprising story all season and presently sits in sole possession of first place at 10-2 in league and 18-5 overall. However, both North Dakota State and South Dakota State are only half a game back, each at 10-3 in conference. NDSU is 19-6 overall with a 70 RPI and a 56 KenPom. WIU’s RPI is 130 and their KenPom is 137. Western Illinois did defeat the Bison at home 50-42 last month.
The Leathernecks are led by Terell Parks who has scored 10 double-doubles so far this season, best in the Summit League. The Bison are led by Lawrence Alexander, Marshall Bjorkland, and TrayVonn Wright who has three double-doubles on the season for them as well.
While North Dakota State has only been in Division I since 2004, they are on the verge of their third 20 win season. By comparison, Western Illinois is also seeking its third ever 20 win season, but have been in Division I for over 30 years. In fact, the school record for WIU is 20, which should be surpassed this year. Tonight’s game at North Dakota State, followed by this weekend’s game at South Dakota State, will go a long way to showing whether Western Illinois is a serious contender for thier first NCAA tournament bid ever, or if the Summit League will come down to a battle between the Dakotas.