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Dancing With the Jackrabbits

South Dakota State University
The Coughlin Campanile on the SDSU campus

With both South Dakota State University basketball teams making the NCAA tournament, it’s an exciting time. It’s also more proof that hoops in South Dakota are a lot better than some might think.

For the Jacks women, this is the fifth year in a row in the national tournament, and the second for the men.

The women beat USD to get there, and Augustana’s teams showed up well in Division II.

When I was a freshman in college, only the men’s team got any attention. There was a women’s team, if I remember right, but it didn’t have much more than club status and the games were played in virtual anonymity.

The situation now is so much better. If you ask me, the women’s games are just as exciting as the men’s, if not more so.

Back to my freshman year in college–1969-70.

The Jacks hosted what was probably the North Central Region in what likely was still called the College Division (As I said, things are different now).

SDSU won the regional tournament on a weekend when I was in a wedding in northwest Minnesota, east of Moorhead, so I couldn’t go.

The National College Division Tournament was always played in Evansville, Indiana in those days. Eight teams qualified–much like the Elite Eight of Division II now.

The Jacks ran into a team from Tennessee with a future NBA player, and it was one and done.

In my remaining three years in school, the Jacks never got to the Pretty Good-Sized Dance again, coming oh-so-close at least once.

A national title came some years later, and also a national second-place finish, with the women winning it all in St. Joseph, Missouri once.

So Go Jacks, and show the rest of the US that South Dakota can hold its own with anybody.


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