South Dakota State faces Michigan in first round of NCAA tourneyBROOKINGS — Summit League player of the year Nate Wolters says he’s looking forward to facing his Big Ten counterpart Thursday to open the NCAA tournament.
BROOKINGS — Summit League player of the year Nate Wolters says he’s looking forward to facing his Big Ten counterpart Thursday to open the NCAA tournament.
Wolters will be defending Trey Burke when 12th seed South Dakota State (25-9) faces fifth-seed Michigan (26-7) at 6:15 p.m. Central time in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Thursday, said Jackrabbits head coach Scott Nagy. The game will be broadcast on CBS. Wolters, speaking Sunday during a Selection Sunday watching party at Cubby’s Sports Bar & Grill in Brookings, said he’s ready for the challenge.
“He’s a good player,” Wolters said of Burke. “I’ve watched them a couple times. They’re really talented and have good guards. They’re a good overall team.”
Burke, the Big Ten player of the year averaging 19.2 points per game, said he hears great things about Wolters.
“I’ve seen just a couple of games, but I hear great things about him,” Burke said. “But I know very little right now, other than I have a lot of respect for the program. I know they were the Jackrabbits right away — right?”
Wolters, who is averaging 22.7 points per game, said he expects a more open contest with Michigan than in the defensive Summit League final in which SDSU topped North Dakota State 73-67.
“I think they like to get up and down a little bit, so it should be faster pace,” Wolters said. “It should be a lot of fun.”
The Jackrabbits in the Summit League tournament enjoyed a crowd advantage, packing the arena with fans making the 50 minute trip to support their team.
Jackrabbits forward Tony Fiegen said it will be an opposite experience playing Michigan in Auburn Hills.
“It’s kind of a taste of our own medicine, really,” he said.
But Fiegen said the Jackrabbits have played in loud environments all year, and they have to use their experience to have great communication and keep their composure.
“Without communication, your defense doesn’t stand a chance,” he said. “So that’s going to be real important.”
Fiegen says he doesn’t know a whole lot about Michigan, other than they have a good couple of guards and they’re pretty big in the front court.
“We’re really going to have to lock in on defense. That’s kind of our hallmark. We try to build our entire team around defense.”
Coach Nagy said Michigan is one of the top 25 teams in the country shooting the ball from three.
“So they’re going to be able to spread our defense out,” Nagy said. “But I think we’re in the Top 25 too, so we should be able to spread their defense out.”