South Dakota State vs. Providence Prediction: Can the Jackrabbits' Offense hold up?

Will the Jackrabbits' offense hold up? Gray Gutfreund investigates and makes his play for South Dakota State vs Providence.
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South Dakota State vs. Providence Prediction: Can the Jackrabbits' Offense hold up?

The South Dakota State Jackrabbits have quietly been one of the college basketball's most dominant offenses this season. SDSU ranked second in Points Per Game, first in Offensive Rating, and 12th in KenPom's adjusted offensive efficiency. On the other hand, Providence doesn't exactly carry an elite defense into tournament play. This begs the question: If South Dakota State's elite offense isn't slowed down by the Friar's so-so defense, will Providence be able to keep up?

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How is South Dakota State so good offensively? Well, they have an excellent blend of shooting, top-level shot creation, and experience. Let's start with their elite shooting.

The Jackrabbits shot 44.9% from three-point range as a team this season. This number is so insane it's hard to grasp. Colgate was second in the nation this season, shooting "only" 40.3% from deep. The shooting gap between #1 SDSU and #2 Colgate was equivalent to the difference between #2 Colgate and #74 Akron. SDSU doesn't even take an insanely high volume of threes; they just convert a ton. Only Colgate and San Francisco make more threes per game out of the other 67 teams in the tournament field.

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The Jackrabbits routinely get high percentage looks. They joined Gonzaga as the only teams to shoot better than 50% from the field this season, thanks to Baylor Scheierman and Douglas Wilson. Wilson won the Summit League player of the year two seasons ago, while Scheierman captured the award this season. These two guys will be the key to getting these same quality looks against the battle-tested Providence Friars.

Many hoops experts like the experience that Providence brings to the table. But, SDSU offers a similar level of experience, with 8 of their 9 rotational players carrying at least three seasons of experience under their belts. Additionally, 6 of SDSU's 9 rotational players shot at least 39% from three on at least 2.0 attempts per game. The combination of regular-season success, age, and floor-spacing is reminiscent of Wofford in 2018-19 when they almost beat 2-seed Kentucky to move on to the Sweet Sixteen.

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Providence ranks just 42nd in KenPom's adjusted defense metric out of the 68 tourney teams this season. And, in case you couldn't tell, they can't shoot anywhere close to as well as South Dakota State can. So, unless the Friars turn into a really strong defensive unit overnight, an upset could be brewing in this 4-13 matchup.

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Gray is a massive New York sports fan, and is an NBA & NFL oracle. He’s a passionate writer with a strong background in statistics, and loves putting out player props! You can follow him on Twitter @PropBetGuru.

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