Oh, it is glorious. How do you not love a name like Jackrabbits? College basketball is better because one day long ago a bunch of men and women came together and agreed upon such a moniker.
South Dakota State fought to an ugly overtime win in the Summit final Tuesday night over Western Illinois, another program that was trying to get into its first NCAA tournament. But South Dakota State gets there, and if they're rewarded with a decent seed and a shaky major-conference team, this could be an under-the-radar upset pick. The Jackrabbits went into Washington a week before Christmas and killed the Huskies, 92-73. Nate Wolters is a big point guard with a varied, reliable skill set -- that faulted him in the title game -- is capable of jacking up 35 like it's his business. He was just 5-of-22 for 14 points in the Summit final, though, and a repeat performance of that in the NCAAs means SDSU will be one and done.
And how about this: The appearance for South Dakota State means there is only state, Maine, that is yet to have a school be repped in the NCAA tournament at some point during the history of the event.
Player to know: Nate Wolters. And after I was roundly mocked by my colleagues at CBSSports.com for wanting to include Jackrabbits junior guard Nate Wolters on our Top 100 Players list in October, I have been avenged! And they are ruing that day! Rue it, Jeff Goodman! Wolters is exactly the kind of player who can make a nation fall in love with one performance. He's the team's point guard, but he accounts for so much of the offense.
- Record: 27-7 overall, 15-3 in Summit League
- Most recent tournament appearance: N/A
- We’re thinking: 14 seed
- KenPom ranking: 49
- Sagarin ranking: 59
- RPI: 50
- Best wins: at Washington, vs. Oral Roberts
- Worst losses: at North Dakota, at South Dakota
- Notable stat: The Jackrabbits aren't that fast (in fact, at 66 possessions per game, they're about average), but they do take care of the ball very well, and that's because of Wolters. Turning it over at a 15.7 percent rate, SDSU is No. 4 in the nation in protecting itself from offensive mistakes.
-- Matt Norlander