Nate Wolters, South Dakota State dance again; Valparaiso wins Horizon
The nation will get to see one more episode of The Nate Show.
South Dakota State star Nate Wolters, revered by efficiency-loving wonks and basketball people alike, had 27 points, six rebounds and six assists as the Jackrabbits put away North Dakota State, 73-67, in the Summit League final. The championship puts South Dakota State into the NCAA tournament for the second straight season (and second time as a Division I program since they started the move up from Division II in the middle of last decade). Last season, the Jackrabbits played Baylor pretty tough in a 3 vs. 14 game. They will be in a similar position this season (expect a 13 or 14 for them) and similarly dangerous for the 3-seed unlucky enough to draw them.
In the second late title game, the Drew family confirmed that at least one of the coaching sons will dance. Bryce Drew, triggerman on one of the most famous game-winners in NCAA history, is now running the family business at Valpo and has the Crusaders in the dance for the first time since 2004.
The Crusaders beat back Wright State in the Horizon League final with a late 16-0 run that sealed an eventual 62-54 win. They are also looking pretty likely to settle into a 13- or 14-seed, and they, like the Jackrabbits, should not be dismissed as an upset possibility in the Round of 64.
After a run of small-conference upsets, we got two of the better options through today. Protected seeds beware!