Allow me to introduce to you one of the most dynamic duos in the country. If you haven’t heard of them, remember their names … with the March Madness betting frenzy upon us, they could deliver some succulent dividends.
Stanley Umede and AJ Plitzuweit of South Dakota. No, they don’t exactly roll off the tongue. As one of the nation’s six tandems averaging at least 18 points apiece, though, the spitfires will keep many foes on their toes, and heels, gasping for air and begging for timeouts.
- North Dakota State at South Dakota -1, Total 135, Saturday, 4:30 pm ET
- Action: Over 135
These are the Summit League’s top two teams, who are among its four most-efficient offenses. Eight of the Bison’s past 13 games have gone Over, as has seven of the Coyotes’ previous eight games. On a neutral court in Sioux Falls, S.D., in mid-December, State won, 74-67.
|DraftKings Sportsbook||Point Spread||Moneyline||Totals|
|North Dakota State||+1 (-110)||TBD||O 135 (-110)|
|South Dakota||-1 (-110)||TBD||U 135 (-110)|
In their past four games at Sanford Coyote Sports Center in Vermillion, S.D., North Dakota State has won three of them. The two squads, however, have totaled 151, 140, 163, and 139 points, which grabs our attention.
The Bison (12-10, 10-4) have won the past two Summit tournaments, and four of the previous seven, so it knows success. Rocky Kreuser, a 6-foot-10, 245-pound senior from White Bear Lake, Minn., is 5-2 against the Coyotes in his career.
In December, he scored 16 points (sinking all six of his attempts inside the arc), yanked down eight rebounds, and dished out three assists in the victory over South Dakota. He has tallied 50 points (on 16-for-23 2-point shooting) in his past three games and went for 70 on another three-game run this season.
Junior swingman Sam Griesel went for 16 against South Dakota in Sioux Falls, and he’s only had four single-digit scoring performances in his past 18 games.
In addition, junior guard Tyree Eady went for 17 (sinking all eight of his free-throw attempts) in that game against the Coyotes and is another surefire double-figure scorer for the Bison.
Jarius Cook, a sophomore guard, had single-digit points in his first seven games of the season but has registered at least 10 in eight of his past nine outings. Scoring for North Dakota State will be no issue.
The Coyotes (12-9, 10-3) have been torching scoreboards for a month. They defeated Oral Roberts, 86-84, in the Sanford Center last Saturday. In their three previous games, all defeats, they recorded 81, 76 and 78 points.
A low-scoring victory at South Dakota State was preceded by 97-93, 91-59 and 84-75 triumphs.
State has been on a hot national top-20 3-point run lately, sinking them from long range at a 44.6% clip in its past three tilts. Overall, its 38% touch beyond the arc is 24th in the nation. The Coyotes are sharp, too, at the line, where they connect on 78.8% of their freebies, No. 13 in the nation.
Uh Oh, Umude
The danger man for South Dakota State is Stanley Umude, a 6-6, 210-pound swingman from San Antonio. In big defeats to Kansas and Purdue Fort Wayne in his career, he didn’t back down, scoring 28 points and 32, respectively.
He has tested his NBA value, but he returned for his senior season with a vengeance. In December, he had 41 points and 11 boards in a victory over South Dakota State. Since then he has scored in the 20s four times, and 30s twice.
The past five times he’s suited up against North Dakota State, however, he’s been a loser on four occasions. He has reason to take this one personally.
The Second Star
Umude has a scintillating sidekick in AJ Plitzuweit, the Bison’s sophomore point guard who started at Division-II power Augustana, in Sioux Falls, before transferring to the Coyotes and sitting out last season.
He broke out for 24 points at Nebraska and 31 against Denver. With 37 points on Jan. 30 at home against Nebraska-Omaha, however, the 6-2 sparkplug established himself and has not slowed down, starting a run of 174 points over six games.
In that stretch, he has drilled 25 of 54 attempts beyond the 3-point arc, and gone 33-for-34 at the line. If that sounds like a coach’s kid, AJ is just that as his mom, Dawn, has coached South Dakota’s women’s team since 2016.
He averages 18.9 points, Umude 20.3, and there are only five other teams in the land who can boast of two players who average at least 18 points.
For the likely benefit of many March Madness viewers, and a few broadcasters, remember the name and how to pronounce it—PLITTS-zoo-white.