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Summit League tournament: Preview, prediction, TV info

Latest in hoops: Top 25 (and one) | Bracketology | Bubble Watch

What: Summit League championship.

When: March 8-11

Where: Sioux Falls Arena in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Bracket: View tournament field here.

TV: Championship game on ESPN3 on March 11 at 9 p.m. ET.

Last year's champ: South Dakota State (25-9, No. 13 seed)

What matters: North Dakota State won the Summit by two games while Saul Phillips and Taylor Braun took Coach of the Year and Player of the Year honors. So this is the Bison's tournament (and automatic bid) to lose. They're 59 spots better than any other Summit team, and they're entering this event on a seven-game winning streak thanks, in part, to one of the most efficient offenses in the country.

Who matters: Braun is the star of the league, undeniably. The 6-foot-7 senior is averaging 18.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists while shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from 3-point range. He's scored at least 30 points four different times this season, meaning he's precisely the type of guy who could give a high-major fits in the NCAA Tournament. Keep an eye on that, if it comes to that.

Fun fact: Among the reasons North Dakota State has an efficient offense is the fact that the Bison shoot 56.3 percent on 2-pointers and only get 5.0 percent of their shots blocked. Those numbers rank second and first. And I don't mean second and first in the Summit League. I mean second and first in the nation.

Prediction: Anything can happen in a 40-minute basketball game, I guess. But picking somebody besides North Dakota State to win the Summit's automatic bid seems silly. The Bison are the league's best team, according to every measuring device ... and my eyeballs. The No. 2 seed in this tournament is IPFW. North Dakota State beat Tony Jasick's Mastodons by double-digits four Saturdays ago, for what it's worth.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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