For the third straight year, South Dakota State claimed the Summit League’s NCAA Tournament bid. You should be familiar with the Jackrabbits by now. They hung with Gonzaga last year in the opening round, and nearly took down Maryland in a 5-12 matchup the year before. They’re dangerous and hungry to finally break through with a victory in the tournament.
The scouting report for the Jackrabbits starts with Mike Daum. He’s been written about ad nauseam, and he’s on the verge of becoming a household name. The NCAA Tournament is ripe for a coming out party. Daum is the rare combination of volume and efficiency. He uses almost a third of SDSU’s possessions and has shooting splits of 487/.421/.856. He averages a double-double of 23.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
For as good as Daum is, the Jackrabbits aren’t a one-man show. In fact, this is arguably the most complete offensive team of the last three seasons. The Jackrabbits pour in nearly 85 points per game, making them one of the most potent offenses in the country.
One of those sources of offense is David Jenkins Jr. The freshman guard has been a revelation for head coach TJ Otzelberger. Jenkins averaged 16.1 points per game this year, and is capable of carrying an offense as the go-to guy. The Jackrabbits run a decent amount of pick-and-roll with Jenkins and Daum, and Jenkins’ ability to get to the rim results in a pick-your-poison scenario.
Reed Tellinghuisen fits in the frontcourt as a stretch four. The senior forward averaged 12 points per game this season while connecting on nearly 40 percent of his threes. His floor spacing ability allows Daum to work in the post, and he’s also able to guard rangy forwards on the defensive end.
Tevin King provides an athletic guard who’s capable of scoring in a pinch while also hitting the boards. Skyler Flatten rounds out the starting lineup on the wing, and he’s someone teams can’t ignore. Flatten went 55-109 (50.5 percent) from behind the arc this season. This team has shooters galore.
How they can win
As mentioned above, the Jackrabbits are a potent offensive team. Their offense comes in at No. 42 in Kenpom, and they play an up-tempo style that allows them to score points in a hurry. However, they aren’t a team that throws away possessions. The Jackrabbits turn the ball over on just 13.8 percent of their possessions per Kenpom, which is the second lowest rate in the country.
The bread and butter of their offense is the three-point shot. Almost half of their shots come from behind the arc, and they connect on those shots at a 39.2 percent clip. Their 361 made threes this year is the fourth-most in the country. When the shots are falling, it’s extremely difficult to stop them.
At No. 148 in Kenpom, their defense is about average. They aren’t built to win a defensive battle.
They do have a couple of strengths on the defensive side of the ball, though. The Jackrabbits are great at finishing possessions and keeping teams off the glass. Their opponents’ OReb rate of 22.9 percent is No. 14 in the country. The Jackrabbits also keep teams off the free throw line with a free throw rate of 25.5 percent, which is No. 17 in the country.
South Dakota State will almost assuredly be a trendy upset pick no matter where they are seeded. They took down Power 5 programs like Iowa and Ole Miss this season, and also came close to knocking off Colorado and Wichita State. Any team that gets matched up with the Jackrabbits will be on upset alert. The Jackrabbits can score, have a bonafide star that can carry them, and have been here before. Don’t be surprised if they pick up an upset or two.