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Up next for IPFW: Today vs. North Dakota State

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Mastodons making national television appearance in title tilt

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 3:38 pm

Up next for IPFW: vs. North Dakota State in Summit League Tournament championship game

When: 9 p.m. Today (EST)

Where: Sioux Falls Arena, Sioux Falls, S.D.

On air: 1380-AM, ESPN2

Records: No. 2 seed IPFW (24-9), No. 1 seed North Dakota State (24-6)

Expected starters for IPFW: Pierre Bland – 6-2 senior guard; Isaiah McCray – 6-0 junior guard; Luis Jacobo – 6-5 senior forward; Michael Kibiloski – 6-7 senior forward; Steve Forbes – 6-9 junior center.

IPFW update: This is how it should be. The top two seeds in the Summit League Tournament battling for the championship. For the 20th time in 21 Summit League Tournaments, the top seed advanced to the title game. The Bison and Mastodons split their two regular season meetings, with both teams earning 11-point victories on their home courts. The difference in the two games came down to defensive pressure by both teams. In the Mastodon victory, they forced the Bison into 15 turnovers (off 11 steals), which resulted in 24 IPFW points. In the Bison victory, they flipped the numbers and forced IPFW into 16 turnovers (off 10 steals), which resulted in 22 North Dakota State points. This will be the first nationally-televised appearance for the Mastodons on either ESPN 2 or ESPN networks. IPFW earned its 24th win of the season by surviving South Dakota State Monday 64-60. The victory set a school record for success, as well as was the first time in program history the Mastodons had reached the league tournament championship. The Bison's 35-point blowout of Denver was a tournament record in semifinal games for margin of victory. Mastodon freshman Mo Evans sank 6 of 7 3-point shots in Monday's win, and North Dakota State has struggled (7th out of 8 teams) in guarding perimeter shooters. There is little secret to the Bison success this season. They are the top shooting team in the league, as well as the top defensive team in the league. IPFW will more than likely struggle offensively in half-court situations, so it will have to play as it did against the Jackrabbits and create offense off of its defense in transition. The Mastodons have won 6 of their last 7 games, while the Bison have won 13 of their last 14 games, including eight straight.

IPFW graduate assistant coach (and former IPFW forward) John Peckinpaugh: “ This is awesome to see and be a part of. When I came in (in 2008-09), this is where I always wanted to be, in the championship on Tuesday in the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls. It's just a great experience for our guys. Everyone of the (former players) from Ben (Botts) and Zach (Plackemeier), to Trey (McCorkle), (Frank) Gaines, they all texted me last night telling me how happy they were for the guys and what this means to them. It's special for our school, the university and the community of Fort Wayne. I always did think this was possible. It started with coach (Dane) Fife, and then coach (Tony) Jasick has built on the tradition. The program is going in the right direction and I think anything is possible. We've got great kids that play together and play hard and play the right way. I think we've got a pretty good shot. (When I returned to IPFW as a coach) Right away I knew that they had something special going. Everyone got along. We had some good teams when I played (2008 through 2012), but it really wasn't ever like this. The chemistry is just amazing. Pierre Bland does a fabulous job of keeping everyone together. They're like a family and that is always what we wanted to try and do, but never really doing it. It's neat to watch and be a part of.”