South Dakota State coaches, players react to Michigan match-up

Dylan Burkhardt

Photo: Argus Leader

South Dakota State doesn’t know much about Michigan but showed its respect to the Wolverines when brackets were announced on Selection Sunday. Star guard Nate Wolters didn’t have much to share but was familiar with Michigan’s backcourt when offering up an immediate reaction to the Argus Leader:

“They’re definitely a talented team,” said Jacks senior guard Nate Wolters. “Their back court, especially,”

Wolters continued that he’s impressed with what he’s seen of Trey Burke:

“He’s a good player. I’ve watched them a couple times. They’re really talented and have good guards,” Wolters said. “I think they like to get up and down a little bit, so it should be faster pace.”

Wolters and junior big man Jordan Dykstra both like the match-up of the two teams

“I think we match up pretty well against them,” SDSU junior forward Jordan Dykstra said. “Obviously, they’re more athletic than us, but we can shoot the ball as well and we have a pretty good point guard like they do.”

Head coach Scott Nagy emphasized that the Jackrabbits don’t want to slow the game down, when discussing the match-up with Matt Shepard on WDFN:

“We’re not going to slow the game down so Michigan can’t run. We don’t want to line up and let (Michigan) get five defenders in front of us all the time.”

“Offensively, we want the pace to be fast… We’re better when it’s fast. A lot of your best three’s come in transition. Our pace isn’t at Indiana’s but we want to run.”

Listen to Nagy’s full interview in the embedded player below:

Nagy thinks he’s seen a similar team to Michigan right in his own league: Missouri Kansas City:

Nagy said that Michigan runs an offense that’s similar to Kansas City (except with better personnel, of course). Why? Because usurped Roos coach Matt Brown is a disciple of Wolverines coach John Beilein from their time together at West Virginia.

Brown was fired last week but the Jacks were 8-2 in their last 10 games against UMKC.

Nagy added that he doesn’t expect his team to be overwhelmed after last year’s NCAA tournament experience:

“Last year was very overwhelming for us, and for me,” Nagy admitted. “It was emotional for me to get there, it was overwhelming for our players. As much as you’d like to say that it wasn’t, the stage is so big and so much more grand than what we were used to, it was overwhelming.

“But it really bothered us and we wanted to get back. This time, we’ll be less overwhelmed. Does that mean we’ll win? We’re playing a great team, we understand that and we’ll have to play out of our minds. … We’re not intimidated. We’ve been in so many (big venues) and stuff before, I think that really helps.”

Senior forward Tony Fiegen was well aware of another dynamic that could be brewing at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Fiegen was hopeful that Michigan State fans would help support the Jackrabbits

“Maybe we’ll have more fans than they will,” Jacks senior forward Tony Fiegen joked.

Nagy agrees:

“It’s an incredible atmosphere. I don’t think it will have a negative impact on us. Now, it could have a very positive impact on Michigan, giving them energy. We won’t be intimidated by that. The other thing for us is, I’m guessing, every Michigan State fan will be pulling for us.”

Michigan State plays the first game of the day, at 12:15 p.m., and tickets for that game are included in the session 1 ticket. Michigan’s opening game is part of the session 2 ticket while session 3 will feature Saturday’s round of 32 games. All-session ticket strips are also available.

The Jackrabbits were quiet on Twitter after the announcement with very few players even mentioning the draw. Head coach Scott Nagy kept his tweet simple:

Of course Michigan has been quiet on Twitter as well. Wolverine players haven’t tweeted since their February 27th loss at Penn State.

Meet Nate Wolters

This isn’t Wolters discussing Michigan, but its a recent look at South Dakota State’s star player:

Wolters has also been profiled by Luke Winn, ESPN and his hometown St. Cloud Times this season.

  • Mattski

    Appreciate the wealth of content the last few days. Michigan must not let Wolters become the darling and SDSU the early cinderellas of this tournament. Poise will prove the key here.

  • Indiana_Matt

    I was born and raised in Muncie, Indiana. So I grew up with the IU – Purdue rivalry. But I don’t recall people rooting against the other school when it came to the Big Dance, regardless of how much they hated them. Would MSU fans really cheer against us at a tournament venue? Would Michigan fans actively cheer against the Spartans in a tournament game? I figure it makes us all look better when the conference looks good in the dance. I am pulling for an all Big 10 Final Four.

    • The rule of thumb at the NCAA tournament is kind of that everyone other than the favored team roots for the underdog. I would suspect MSU fans that stuck around for the 2nd session would cheer for SDSU. I would also suspect that Michigan fans who go to the early games would cheer for Valpo.

      On Saturday, it will be interesting to see who plays first. Whether you have a situation where MSU/UM fans arrive late for the first game and cheer for VCU/Memphis down the stretch.

      This is a dynamic that always seems prevalent in Carolina as Charlotte, Greensboro, etc. are frequent sites and UNC/Duke always seem to end up in the same pod.

      • Indiana_Matt

        True. I guess I am just too much of a “conference” guy this time of year. The Big 10 will take a hit after being considered the best conference all year if the top 5 teams don’t make it past the first weekend.

        As a side note, I would probably cheer against Duke even if they were representing the human race vs. aliens and the loser’s planet was to be annihilated.

        • Steve2081

          I would definitely cheer against Sparty. Their performance no longer has any affect on our season so I see no reason to root for them.

          • ForeverBlue

            A business associate, Spartan fan, told me today that when the camera showed a Michigan fan on the big screen in Chicago during the conference tournament that people would boo.

            I can’t bring myself to ever root for them. Even when we have nothing to do with what they are doing they take so much pleasure in finding ways to jab us.

          • Steve2081

            Yeah even when a Sparty win can help us I don’t root for them. I just don’t actively root against them.

  • mistersuits

    As a Michigan fan you have a very simple strategy going into this game:

    Bet the over.

  • Mattski

    Nate Silver’s take on the brackets, gives Michigan a 90-plus percent chance of getting to the Sweet 16:

    • jemblue

      Actually that 90.6% figure is for the first round. He gives us a 66% chance of the Sweet 16. Still pretty good odds.

      • Mattski

        Yes! Misread it; how the heck could he know our odds in the second round. . . Still, looking good for SDSU!