The North Dakota State Bison will look to snap a two-game losing streak tonight as they host in-state and conference opponent North Dakota. We’ll preview the game before breaking down my best bet for the action.
Summit League conference play has been relatively one-sided this season, as Oral Roberts sits at the top of the conference standings with a 9-0 record. The rest of the standings feature a lot of teams with .500 conference records but at the bottom is the 1-8 North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
The Fighting Hawks have lost two straight games and have one of the worst defensive efficiency ratings in the country this season, as they rank 307th, according to KenPom. North Dakota is fresh off a loss to Western Illinois, a game in which, despite scoring 80 points, they still lost by 12.
If there were any positives from that game, it was they were able to score more points than they had in any other conference game. The Fighting Hawks are shooting 42% from the field this season, but they managed to shoot 52% against Western Illinois. They have an excellent opportunity to carry that momentum into tonight against an NDSU team that is ranked 267th in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.
The Bison had won five straight games, but they have since dropped their last two games and now sit in 4th place in the Summit League standings. NDSU has had two straight bad defensive games, and they now rank 313th in the country in opponent shooting percentage.
On the offensive end, Grant Nelson has been the focal point of the Bison offense. Nelson is arguably one of the best mid-major players in the country, averaging 17.3 points over his last ten games and on the season, shooting 51.2% from the field. The Bison go as he goes, so expect the ball in his hands often, looking to take advantage of the Fighting Hawks’ lackluster defense.
The point total in this game is currently set at 140.5, and I’ll be taking the over as my play in this one. The over is 3-0-1 in the Bison’s last four games this season, and it is 13-5 in the previous 18 games that North Dakota has played following a loss. North Dakota State has scored 73 or more points in four of their last five games, and they’ll now be playing the team with the worst defensive efficiency rating in the conference.
Fighting Hawks opponents this season have an effective field goal percentage of 53.8% while making an average of 27.2 field goals per game, ranking North Dakota worse than 300th in the country in both categories. In their last two games, the Fighting Hawks allowed their opponent's leading scorer to drop 27 and 46 points, respectively, so Grant Nelson could be in for one of his biggest games of the season.
North Dakota likes to rely heavily on the three-ball and attempts the 49th most three-pointers per game in the country while making an average of 8.4 a game. This offensive game plan could be very successful against an NDSU team that has allowed opponents to shoot 35.8% from three this season.