The Minnesota State men’s basketball team will be playing in their final two home games of the regular season this upcoming weekend. Although the regular season has come to an end, the Mavericks secured a first-round home game in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) tournament on Wednesday, Feb. 22. The Mavericks are coming off a weekend where they split games, including an overtime loss and a one-point victory. They are going to be looking to finish strong as they continue their attempt for an NCAA tournament bid.
MNSU welcomes Southwest Minnesota State to Bresnan Arena on Friday. The Mustangs enter the weekend 20-5 overall and 15-5 in the NSIC South, which ties them with Upper Iowa for the best conference record. SMSU was riding a three-game winning streak before being dropped by Augustana by double-digits, 97-79.
“Southwest State is winning the conference right now and is a team we feel we let slip away at their place earlier in the year,” head coach Matt Margenthaler said.
On January 21, the Mavericks and Mustangs collided in Marshall. The Mavericks built a 19-2 lead in the first eight minutes, but the Mustangs built a comeback and hit the game winner with 12.3 seconds left.
The Mustangs’ Mitch Weg leads in scoring, averaging 12.5 points per game while adding 7.2 rebounds. Joey Bartlett is close behind with 11.8 points per game, and Ryan Bruggeman is adding 10.5 per game.
“We just need to be ready to go. For us, it’s just about showing up, dialed in, and ready to compete. When we do that, we give ourselves a chance and I’ll take our chances every single night if we show up ready to go,” Coach Margenthaler said.
The Mavericks will hold ‘Senior Night’ on Saturday as they welcome Sioux Falls to Mankato. The Cougars will come into the weekend holding a 13-5 record and 9-11 in the NSIC. Sioux Falls plays Concordia-St. Paul on Friday and will be looking to break their current six-game losing streak before they get to Mankato.
While they are on the negative side of a streak, Sioux Falls still has a lot of firing power with five athletes averaging double-digit scoring. Drew Guebert leads with 15.5 points per game, Mack Johnson is averaging 14, Daniel Hurtt with 12.7, Clint Thomas 10.3, and Zach Wessels is at 10.1.
The last time the two teams met was on January 20 in Sioux Falls. The Mavericks escaped with a 68-67 win after Cole Harper hit a last-second layup for the victory.
“Our goal is to win the conference tournament. That would be a great goal going into the postseason and that gives you an automatic bid if you win the conference tournament so that’s something we want to do and we want to continue playing well in this final stretch going into the conference tournament,” Coach Margenthaler said.
Minnesota State takes on Southwest Minnesota State at 8 p.m. on Friday and Sioux Falls at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Bresnan Arena.