Trip nine in the last 11 seasons to the NCAA Tournament for South Dakota State will begin with the highest vantage point the Jackrabbits, or any Summit League team, has ever earned.

SDSU is a number-five seed in the Portland Region as they open play, Saturday (March 23) against 11th-seeded Quinnipiac in Syracuse, New York.

The Jackrabbits (26-6), the conference regular season and Summit League Tournament champs have won 16 straight games coming in.

The Bobcats (26-6) are red hot as well. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champs have won 21 in-a-row, including a perfect 18-0 run thru league play before winning their third straight conference tournament.

Quinnipiac, from Hamden, Connecticut, has been getting it done with defense this season. The Bobcats allowed the second-fewest points per game in all of Division I (51). Their 12 steals per game are tenth best in the country and 21 forced turnovers per game are tied for 12th in the NCAA.

The Jackrabbits counter with the 12th highest scoring offense in DI, averaging 80 points per game.

The Bobcats defensive prowess carries an offense that averages just 65 points per game and is only 261st in the nation in shooting accuracy (38%).

A veteran trio leads Quinnipiac. Redshirt senior Jen Fay averages 12 points and seven rebounds a game, senior Aryn McClure scores ten points and pulls down six rebounds a game. That duo has combined for 115 steals this season.

Another senior, Paula Strautmane, a native of Latvia, is a presence inside with 57 blocked shots this season. She also has 55 steals.

The Bobcats are making their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last seven seasons. After first-round exits in 2013 and 2015, Quinnipiac advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2017 as an 11-seed after a pair of wins and then won an opening-round game last season after being seeded ninth.

South Dakota State has a pair of NCAA Tourney wins over the years, a 2009 victory over TCU and a 2016 win over Miami (FL). Senior guards Macy Miller and Madison Guebert were members of that Jackrabbit teams that knocked off the Hurricanes three years ago.

Tipoff is 10:00 AM, Saturday in Syracuse, New York. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

The winner plays the (3) Syracuse - (14) Fordham winner in round two.

I talked with Jackrabbits head coach Aaron Johnston about the match-up with Quinnipiac:

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