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January 3rd Game of the Day: Western Illinois Leathernecks at South Dakota Coyotes

Gilbeck, Brandon (4)
Junior forward Brandon Gilbeck (52) is averaging 3.1 blocks per game this season, which is tied for the 11th-best mark in the country. (Header: South Dakota Athletics)

VERMILLION, SD — Wednesday’s Game of the Day features a pair of teams who don’t care for your preseason predictions in the Summit League.

Last season, the South Dakota Coyotes were picked to finish seventh in the Summit League standings. Instead, they went 12-4 in conference play to take home the regular season crown. It was their first regular season conference title in school history. With that, they also made their first-ever appearance in the National Invitational Tournament.

Fast forward to this season, and seemingly everyone wrote off the Western Illinois Leathernecks before the season started, picking them to finish eighth in the eight team league. All the Leathernecks did during non-conference play is put together an 8-4 record, matching their win total from all of last season.

Now, the Leathernecks have their sights set on climbing in the Summit League standings and proving everyone wrong, much like the Coyotes did last season. While they may not win the conference title, they have a young nucleus that will only get better with each passing year.

On Wednesday, Western Illinois opens up their conference slate with a road game against the Coyotes. South Dakota is 1-0 in Summit League play, having picked up an 82-71 win over the Denver Pioneers to close out 2017.

Here’s everything you need to know in advance of Wednesday’s match-up between the Leathernecks and Coyotes. Continue reading January 3rd Game of the Day: Western Illinois Leathernecks at South Dakota Coyotes