When the 2017-18 South Dakota State women's basketball schedule was released, there was an immediate buzz about an early season non-conference match-up.

Not only were the Jackrabbits meeting up with powerhouse Louisville for the second straight year, but this time SDSU would get the number-four team in the nation in Brookings, on their home floor at Frost Arena.

So it was no surprise that a crowd of 2,506 showed up on a Sunday afternoon (December 3) to witness one of the best teams in all of Division I battle one of the elite mid-major programs in the nation.

And the game did not disappoint.

Louisville fell behind by as many as a dozen points early on, but like good teams do, found a win to escape with a 68-64 win, their eighth straight to start the season.  

But it was in the aftermath of this contest that something bigger began to emerge. The Cardinals weren't just leaving Brookings with a victory, they were leaving with a tremendous appreciation for the atmosphere they encountered in the Mount Rushmore State.

It all started in Cardinals' head coach Jeff Walz's press conference.

Walz, who as an assistant at Nebraska, actually applied for the SDSU women's job in 2000 only to be beaten out for the job by current Jackrabbits head coach Aaron Johnston, spoke glowingly about what his players had experienced in Brookings against a quality opponent:


This outpouring was just the latest in what's been going on for the better part of a decade now at the Division I level. The state of South Dakota has a special place in its' heart for women's basketball.

We've seen it with the unparalleled success of the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls every March, and it was on display again when the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center hosted the NCAA women's regional in 2016.

Expect the same kind of rave reviews when Oklahoma comes to Frost Arena Wednesday (December 6).