Sioux Falls is hoops town: 59 games and lucky chicken strips

NAIA D2 Mens Basketball Championship with banner and confetti

March is the month for basketball. The Sanford Pentagon is taking that to a unique level.

The 3,250-seat, retro-styled venue on the north side of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is in the midst of hosting 59 college basketball postseason games from Feb. 24-March 24, including three national championships. So far, 45 have been played. Four have gone to overtime – one to double overtime.

These aren’t the only basketball games in Sioux Falls, either. The Denny Sanford Premier Center hosted 14 games for the Summit League men’s and women’s tournament, and the Elmen Center at Augustana University was home to seven matchups for the NCAA Division II women’s central region tournament.

Plus, the Pentagon is home to the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the NBA G League affiliate of the Miami Heat, which plays four home games in March.

Some other noteworthy numbers:

1.2 million: Estimated CBS viewers who watched the NCAA Division II men’s basketball championship game – held at the Pentagon – in 2017. The number is expected to be similar this year on March 24. And that’s hardly the only live coverage going on at the five-sided venue. CBS Sports Network is airing the Division II women’s championship game on March 23, ESPN3 aired the NAIA Division II men’s title game on Tuesday and Micdo Sports Network did all 14 games during the NSIC men’s and women’s tournament.

3,023: Points that Cornerstone forward Kyle Steinenga scored in his college career. It’s the most ever by a Michigan college player in any division. The 6-foot-6 senior also broke the NAIA Division II men’s tournament records for career points (328) and career rebounds (135).

18,250: Minutes of physical activity that have taken place – on the playing court – during those 45 games. That doesn’t factor in warmup times, practices or nervous energy.

59: Number of schools that earned trips to the Pentagon during this wild run. Those institutions are based in 26 states. The farthest away: Barry University of Miami Shores, Florida, which is 1,817 miles from Sioux Falls. The Buccaneers are participating in the D-II men’s Elite Eight.

2: Number of teams from Indiana featured in the NAIA men’s title game, both from the same conference – the Crossroads League.

250: St. Francis University of Fort Wayne, Indiana, found a new superstition while in Sioux Falls. Before its first game, the team placed an order for 50 chicken strips to eat as a postgame meal. The Cougars won that game – and decided the food had something to do with it. In all, they devoured roughly 250 chicken strips, having gone all the way to the NAIA championship game.

2,415: Boxes of popcorn the Pentagon concessions team sold through the first 45 games. That number will rise quickly this week as Northern State University from Aberdeen, South Dakota, is the No. 3 seed in the D-II men’s Elite Eight, and expected to draw large crowds.

6,517: Number of points scored through 45 games. In other words, teams are scoring more than 72 points per game – a decent clip. Nearly 20 percent of those points were scored from beyond the 3-point line, as the teams have combined for 414 3-pointers so far.

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