SIOUX CITY | There probably doesn’t need to be a lot of game film watched for this one.
The Sioux City Bandits and the Bismarck Bucks are going to meet for the fifth time this season – the Bandits held the 3-1 lead in the regular season -- on Saturday. This matchup is back at the Tyson Events Center with a little more importance attached to it because it is the opening round of the Champions Indoor Football league postseason.
“We feel like we know these guys and they know us, so I think either way the game turned out the other night we really didn’t have a preference either way,” Bandits Coach Erv Strohbeen said. “We felt like as long as we take care of business we are ready to go."
The two teams will square off at 7 p.m. at the Tyson Events Center where the home team went a perfect 6-0 this season to clinch the top spot in the North Division. Sioux City won at home over the Bucks by scores of 77-37 in the second week of the season and 67-49 on May 20. Bismarck's lone win came 63-61 in North Dakota on May 6.
“(The Bandit players) are excited to get back home because we are a .500 record on the road right now and that is not good,” Strohbeen said. “We have played well at home and we get a lot of fan support coming out. They want to definitely correct last week’s mistakes.”
The Bandits will be coming into the playoffs off a 75-70 loss to Kansas City Friday. For Strohbeen the formula for his team to have success is a simple one regardless of opponent.
“Disappointed we lost because you always want to head into the playoffs on a high note, but it was a hard-fought ball game that was high scoring and exciting for their fans,” said Strohbeen whose team will be playing a game at the Tyson for the first time since May 20 on Saturday. “We have to control the football and eliminate any turnovers. … Extra shots at the end zone, you can’t give the other team.”
In Bismarck's lone win against Sioux City it kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired. The Bandit defense held the Bucks to 33 yards rushing, but quarterback Johnathan Bane did throw for 206 yards and seven touchdowns while being picked off twice.
Bismarck, which finished the regular season at 5-7, lost to Bloomington 79-78 last Saturday night to get the four seed.
Sioux City (9-3), which is 7-1 against the other North Division playoff teams, is the third highest scoring team in the CIF at 58.7 points while Bismarck is 11th at 45.0. The Bucks average 189.4 yards through the air -- fourth in the league -- while Sioux City is the best running team at 125.5.
This is the seventh straight year the Bandits made the postseason having won league championships in 2011, '12 and '15. Last season the Bandits lost to Bloomington in a first-round game.
The other matchup in the North Division has second-seeded Omaha hosting No. 3 Bloomington. The South Division has No. 1 overall seed Amarillo facing No. 4 Duke City while No. 2 Texas hosts No. 3 Dodge City.