It's gut check time for the South Dakota men's basketball team.

The Coyotes are trying to find a way to get past the disappointment of not defending their Summit League regular season title, losing in the conference tournament championship game, and then narrowly missing out on a return trip to the NIT, as they get set to open play in the College Invitational Tournament, Wednesday (March 14) night in Vermillion.

First up for USD (26-8) is North Texas. The Mean Green (15-17) are out of Conference USA. They finished seventh in the league after losing six-of-seven to end the regular season. Louisiana Tech beat them in the opening round of the conference tournament.

Sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart is North Texas' leading scorer, averaging 19 points per game. Smart is in the top ten in the nation in three-pointers attempted and made. Fellow sophomore Ryan Woolridge scores 13 points a game, while freshman Umoja Gibson adds 11.

South Dakota is in the top 25 in the NCAA in total rebounds (1,276) and turnover margin (+3). Junior guard Matt Mooney is in the top 20 in steals (67).

This will be USD's first appearance in the 16-team CBI. It's the Coyotes' third appearance in a postseason national tournament in the Division I era. Previously, USD played in the Tournament in 2010 and the NIT last season.

Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Wednesday in Vermillion.

I talked with Coyotes head coach Craig Smith about the match-up with the Mean Green:


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