Summit League predictions: Jan 15-19

Man, I went 3-5 last week at this.  I was feeling like living life on the edge and taking some risks, but still.

One might consider this Rivalry Week in the conference with the North Dakotas playing the South Dakotas and the North Dakotas play each other and the South Dakotas play each other.  While the rest of the us struggle accepting the conference doesn’t actually care about us.

January 15

North Dakota @ South Dakota State on ESPN+

The Fighting Hawks are bad on the road, and the Jackrabbits are 10-0 at home this season. Though, it should be worth considering the only team that has played against the Jackrabbits in Brookings with a better RPI than North Dakota was Oral Roberts.  The Jackrabbits shot 62% against Oral Roberts to win that game.

With health issues, neither team is particularly deep at the moment.  North Dakota does match up well with South Dakota State.  Filip Rebraca and Kienan Walter match up well against Matt Dentlinger and Douglas Wilson, and Marlon Stewart will hit some big shots to keep the game close.

Paul Sather’s offense will want to take a bunch of 3s, but South Dakota State is the best Summit League team at defending the 3.  I think the Jackrabbits win the game, but North Dakota can beat the spread.

South Dakota @ North Dakota State on ESPN+

These teams match up really well.  Their big glaring difference is that the Bison pride themselves on making the most of each and every possession, and South Dakota forces more turnovers than anyone else in the Summit League.  The big difference maker for North Dakota State losing to Oral Roberts was turnovers.  They had 4 more turnovers and lost by 6 points.

I’m going with South Dakota in this one.  It’s a big risk considering South Dakota has yet to win a road game in the conference so far, and their losses were to Western Illinois and Fort Wayne.

The Bison played Oral Roberts without Jared Samuelson and Sam Griesel.


January 16

Oral Roberts @ Western Illinois

The Golden Eagles have not won in Macomb since 2016.  They have won a game in the state of Illinois this season when they defeated Chicago State.  Also, let’s just add Chicago State to the conference already.  I get it, they’re atrocious, but I need an excuse to go to Chicago.

This game seems to lay completely on the shoulders of Kevin Obanor.  If he just wants to hang out on the perimeter and not play aggressive, it allows for Ben Pyle to not really play defense, and Western Illinois is a much better basketball team when Pyle plays well.


January 18

Oral Roberts @ Fort Wayne

Oral Roberts has not won in Fort Wayne since coming back to the Summit League (the Western Illinois and Fort Wayne trip isn’t kind to them).  They’ve also lost 5 in a row to Fort Wayne…granted that was all with John Konchar.

It’s upsetting as Oral Roberts is considered the most talented team in the league by people who actually pay attention to the conference.  They do shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers and bad shot selection, something Jon Coffman’s team would love to take advantage of.

Omaha @ Denver

The team with the best RPI in the conference versus the team with the worst RPI in the conference.

The Pioneers are going to be throwing a true freshman out there to guard Matt Pile, JT Gibson hit 5 threes in Denver last season and led all scorers in the game with 22 points.

I’m going to be real sad if Omaha loses this game.

North Dakota @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

Again, due to health reasons, neither team is particularly deep at the moment.

Is it weird I don’t care and I just can’t possibly imagine the Bison two straight at home?  Aside from that, the Fighting Hawks are just a generally more inconsistent basketball team.


January 19

South Dakota State @ South Dakota on ESPN+

South Dakota is the more talented team and experienced team, by far.  They have had issues the last few weeks with Triston Simpson struggling to get back into a groove after an injury.  With the feelings of being The B School in the state, the Coyotes are out to have something to prove, and with 5 seniors in the rotation, this is their biggest opportunity to take some notoriety and respect in their own state.  This Jackrabbits squad is a team set up for the future, but the Coyotes are set up for right now.

I suppose anything can happen with an in-state rivalry, I wouldn’t know from experience.  If your school’s fraternities can get in a bar fight with another school’s fraternities on a weekly basis, you should be required to play each other in basketball.

 

Summit League predictions: Jan 8-11

Dude, I thought of doing these last week like old times, but I was in the middle of a 2 week vacation from work and was on full out Lazy Mode.  It was pretty great.  I got NBA 2K20 for Christmas.  I got a trial of Amazon Prime and watched everything I could possibly watch before the trial was over. I regret nothing.

Anyway, here are some sure to go wrong predictions for Summit League games this week.

January 8th

Omaha (2-0) @ North Dakota (2-0) on ESPN+

I would expect the line in this game to be North Dakota favored by 1 point. These teams both play just 7 or 8 players deep, both have senior leading guards, and both have double -double post players.  I’d actually give the slight edge to North Dakota purely based on them needing this game more for themselves after losing to Omaha three times last season.

Purdue Fort Wayne (1-1) @ Western Illinois (1-2)

The only advantage The Mastodons really have in this game is Jon Coffman over Billy Wright, but Coffman hasn’t been able to get this team to play consistently on the road this season.

South Dakota State (2-1) @ Denver (0-3)

Prior to the start of the season, I marked this as one of few games Denver would win this season.  Now that South Dakota State has proven me wrong, I’m fully on board into thinking the only game the Pioneers will win is in the conference is when Western Illinois heads to Denver.


January 9th

North Dakota State (2-0) @ Oral Roberts (0-2) on ESPN3

Teams who really contradict each other.  Oral Roberts is the bigger team who should take advantage of Emmanuel Nzekwesi down low, but they consistently take bad shots (they’re 9th in the Summit in field goal percentage and 3 point field goal percentage) and turn the ball over.

North Dakota State prides themselves in taking care of the basketball and taking the best shot possible.

Man, North Dakota and North Dakota State could be the only two undefeated teams in the conference after Thursday night.


January 11th

Denver (0-2) @ Western Illinois (1-2)

So I have a very serious situation on my hands here.  I make some pretty delightful guacamole.  I go all out when I make it.  People usually demand I bring it when I’m invited to a party.  I do, however, put corn in my guacamole. My friend says this is a crime, and then people are like “yeah, corn doesn’t belong in guacamole,” but then they scarf it down like crazy people.

Dude, I was in Utah at some Mexican restaurant and they put corn in the guacamole and it changed my life.  It was like the time I experimented with mango in a fish taco.  I’m never going back to a life of fish tacos without mango.

Does corn belong in guacamole?

Oh, and this might be the worst basketball game of the conference season.

Omaha (2-0) @ South Dakota (1-2) on ESPN3

Before the start of the season, there was no way I would have taken Omaha in this game.  I also didn’t realize just how freaking good Matt Pile would be this season, and how much of an impact he can have in games.  I knew he would be good, but he’s a freaking monster. Do you think when Pile was young and he was watching “Sesame Street” his parents told him the Cookie Monster was actually the Protein Monster and Pile just consumed protein bars like they were cookies for a normal child?

Triston Simpson has been struggling coming back from injury, and if Pile is enough to throw Tyler Hagedorn off of his normal game, it could translate to a win for the Mavericks.

South Dakota State (2-1) @ Purdue Fort Wayne (1-1)

I legitimately believe South Dakota State is the all around better team, but traveling from Denver to Fort Wayne isn’t ideal for a young team.

North Dakota (2-0) @ Oral Roberts (0-2) on ESPN3

I don’t know, man.  Oral Roberts should be due?

 

 

My trivial Summit League rankings: Jan 6

How is it going? Has the New Year been pretty good to you? Do you have those 6 pack abs yet?  Nope, well that sucks.  At least there is basketball.

I wrote a post for an Oral Roberts at Omaha preview for Saturday, but forgot to hit the “publish” button, so here we are.  We’re going to do some rankings out of my genuine incompetence.

1st – Omaha, 9-8 (2-0)

Last week’s ranking: 3rd

The Mavericks have won three consecutive tough games in a row, however, they have all been at home.  Omaha will face a tough test with three straight road games.

Omaha has 4 veteran leaders who can help power them through tough moments in games, combining that with sophomore role players like Zach Thornhill, Wanjang Tut, and Marlon Ruffin will make the Mavericks a tough beat for anyone in the conference.

Also, it should be worth noting the Mavericks started 2020 with a three point field goal by Tut and two swishes at the free throw line by Matt Pile.

2nd – North Dakota State, 11-5, (2-0)

Last week’s ranking: 2nd

Why would Omaha jump over North Dakota State for the top ranking when they’re both 2-0 in the conference?  The Mavericks defeated Oral Roberts and South Dakota State, two teams who received 1st Place votes in the Summit League Preseason Coaches’ Poll.  North Dakota State defeated Denver and Western Illinois, two of the worst teams in the Summit League.

3rd – South Dakota State, 11-5 (2-1)

Last week’s ranking: 5th

After losing to Omaha, the Jackrabbits defeated Oral Roberts and then gave a full out beat down to Western Illinois.

This has been with a lack of depth due to injuries to Brandon Key and Tray Buchanan, and with only returning 15% of their scoring from last season.  I guess I’m impressed.

Luckily, for the Jackrabbits, they are loved by the Summit League office. This week will be their toughest week, travel wise, as they travel to Denver and then all the way to Fort Wayne, Indiana to play the Mastodons.  Pretty cool it comes on winter break.

Aside from my psycho conspiracy theory, prior to the start of the season Eric Henderson said this team was going to have to play an unselfish brand of basketball and the team was going to have to make up their loss in scoring from last season as an entire unit.  They have done just that, and they have started the conference season off strong.

4th – North Dakota, 8-8, (2-0)

Last week’s ranking: 6th

When reviewing the Fighting What Are They Nows over the summer, I was impressed at how much they had returning and it appeared as if Paul Sather could be a great fit for what they had as a team.

North Dakota has won 3 of their last 4, one of those wins at Nebraska.  North Dakota might be real, and another team to showcase just how deep and even the Summit League is this year.

Also, Marlon Stewart is averaging 25.5 points, 6 rebounds, and 7.5 assists to start off the Summit League this season.  That’s okay.

5th – South Dakota, 10-7, (1-2)

Injuries plagued the Coyotes last season, and much of the same has happened this season.  Senior point guard Triston Simpson was able to return at the start of the Summit League season, but the Coyotes dropped road games to Western Illinois and Fort Wayne, as Simpson struggled.

They also defeated Denver by just 2 points at home.  The Coyotes’ next three games will be against Omaha, North Dakota State, and South Dakota State.  This could be another long season if the Coyotes do not find themselves at full strength soon.

You could argue that none of this really matters, as all that matters in this league is who wins the Summit League championship game.  This was supposed to be the Coyotes’ year, and Todd Lee’s expectations for this team was to win the regular season and to at least make the NIT.

6th – Oral Roberts, 7-8 (0-2)

Last week’s ranking: 4th

The Golden Eagles dropped their first two conference games, and will have two tough tests at home as both North Dakota schools make their way to Tulsa…also North Dakota schools traveling to Oklahoma in January has got to be like traveling to Phoenix for a normal person.

Oral Roberts really should have beat Omaha. They had the size advantage in a generally evenly called game by the referees, but poor shot selection and turnovers have been an issue for this team for two seasons.

7th – Purdue Fort Wayne, 8-9, (1-1)

Last week’s ranking: 7th

It’s nice Fort Wayne was able to take advantage of a hobbled South Dakota team, but as the only person in Omaha who has watched the Mastodons play this season, I can tell you this team has a real problem with execution and finishing.

8th – Western Illinois, 4-9, (1-2)

Last week’s ranking: 9th

Congratulations to the Leathernecks on winning their conference opener and starting off the conference season with less fear of not making the Summit League tournament, like past seasons.  Billy Wright must be very proud.

Western Illinois’ next three games will be at home against Fort Wayne, Denver, and Oral Roberts.  Oral Roberts has not won in Macomb since 2016.  I think Western Illinois treats Oral Roberts coming to Macomb like their Mega Bowl.

If the Leathernecks can win their next three games, you know what, I’m not going to draw any conclusions, if they win their next three games they will be 4-2 in the conference and that’s all I have to say about that.

9th – Denver, 4-13 (0-3)

Last week’s ranking: 8th

No one had high expectations for this team for a reason. David Nzekwesi hasn’t turned out the way anyone thought he would, and Rodney Billups calling out his work ethic in public probably didn’t help.

Freshmen Robert Jones and Roscoe Eastmond have showed potential as future stars in the league, though.

 

 

 

 

My trivial Summit League rankings: Dec 27

SPOILER ALERT: This is going to be boring…

But, maybe you needed some rankings to get you through the days before the Summit League season begins.  I actually doubt you needed that.

1st – South Dakota, 9-5

My last ranking: 1st

The Coyotes have lost two in a row with the injury to Triston Simpson, but he is expected to be back at the start of Summit League play.  The injury has given experience to Kruz Perrott-Hunt, which should help make the Coyotes bench even tougher.

2nd – North Dakota State, 8-5

My last ranking: 2nd

The Bison have faced injuries to two starters, Jared Samuelson and Sam Griesel, and only lost by 14 at Marquette.  That’s considered a bit of a success, right?

3rd – Omaha, 7-8

My last ranking: 3rd

The win over Montana showed the Mavericks have clutch performers in JT Gibson and KJ Robinson to carry the team down the stretch of close games.  Have any other Summit League teams proved they have clutch performers like this?

That’s a serious question…I haven’t watched many close games from Summit League teams.

Fun fact: Omaha has the highest RPI in the Summit League right now.  Helpful that Washington State is on a 5 game winning streak.  The Mavericks also have the 2nd toughest strength of schedule according to RPI, but RPI rankings don’t factor in the Golden Eagles have played Rogers State, Southwestern Christian, Haskell, and Central Oklahoma.

4th – Oral Roberts, 7-5

My last ranking: 5th

It was filled with injuries, and it wasn’t pretty, but the Golden Eagles finished their non-conference schedule with a winning record.  The Golden Eagles actually still have a non-conference games left at BYU.  They also finished with the 2nd highest RPI in the conference…behind Omaha.

5th – South Dakota State, 9-6

My last ranking: 4th

You can call me biased if you want for ranking the a 9-6 Jackrabbits team 5th in the Summit League, but do you really care about this that much?

The Jackrabbits played the 2nd weakest schedule in the Summit League, behind North Dakota State.  The Summit League tea who returned the least amount of its scoring has still yet to be in a situation in which they needed to prove themselves.  I guess they get the opportunity this weekend when they face the Mavericks.

6th – North Dakota, 6-7

My last ranking: 7th

The team with barrel of chemistry beat a Nebraska team with no chemistry.  That’s weird.

7th – Purdue Fort Wayne, 6-7

My last ranking: 6th

At the start of the season, everyone rated the Mastodons in the middle of the Summit League since they lost John Konchar but still had Jon Coffman as a head coach, so they were bound to be okay. It turns out John Konchar was a better player than Jon Coffman is a good coach.  Just watch the Mastodons and watch how the team plays with no organization.

8th – Denver, 4-10

My last ranking: 8th

I don’t like this team. I thought they’d be one of the worst teams to play in the Summit League in the last 5 years.  They might still be, but I think they’re capable of getting a surprise win this season.

What makes me think that?

Actually, nothing.  Pretty much just that they have an altitude advantage in Denver.

It’s currently $630 to fly round trip from Omaha to Denver January 17 to January 19th, if you want to go see the Mavericks play the Pioneers in January.  That’s a lot, isn’t it?

9th – Western Illinois, 3-7

My last ranking: 9th

I thought the Leathernecks would be somewhat decent this season.  I should also mention I haven’t been dieting that well lately, either.  Lots of fried food.  Need to get back to eating more vegetables.

Montana comes to Omaha for Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

The Summit League won the Summit League/WAC Challenge 5-3. I’d like to take some time to thank everyone involved.  Except for Kansas City beating Western Illinois, I thought you were leaving that conference UMKC?  Why give them any more joy than they deserve?

I can’t wait to see the Summit League/WAC Challenge Trophy when it makes it way to Baxter Arena.  Oh, there’s no trophy?  We all just got some help with filling our non-conference schedules?  Is there a trophy case in that new Summit League office in Sioux Falls?

Omaha now enters the Summit League/Big Sky Challenge, which has scheduling that makes little sense to me, as Omaha, South Dakota State, North Dakota, and North Dakota State are the only teams with Big Sky teams in their non-conference schedules this season.  Northern Arizona didn’t count as part of the challenge?  I seriously don’t understand.

Omaha already has one game in the challenge, where they lost 97-56 at Eastern Washington. If I discuss this game any further, I’m just going to list off excuses as to why they lost by 41 points, and we’re all going to get frustrated with me.

Next up in the Challenge, Montana comes to Baxter Arena on Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.

Seriously, you’re going to get to watch the coaching staff in ugly Christmas sweaters on the bench.  Derrin Hansen is going to be wearing an ugly Christmas sweater and have an argument with a NCAA official at some point.  How are you not into that?

Now about that Montana.  They’re coming to Baxter Arena as Omaha will attempt to get their record to one game under .500 before the beginning of conference play.

One of my best friends is from Montana.  He went to Montana and played football for the Montana Grizzlies.  I texted him a couple weeks ago, telling him how I was excited about this game.  His response…

“Congrats on your 20 point win. Montana lost to Montana Tech. We suck.”

The Grizzlies won the Big Sky tournament last season, and they were picked to finish second in the Big Sky preseason poll, even received 3 first place votes.  Their team in the NCAA tournament last season was senior loaded and they lost a lot heading into this season.  I remember looking at their roster for this season, when it was first posted, and first thinking to myself it was just a funky looking roster.

There are 3 active seniors on the roster.  6’5″ Sayeed Pridgett, who earned 1st Team All Big Sky last season as a junior.  Jared Samuelson, a 6’7″ forward who played his freshman year at Montana, then transferred to a NAIA school for 2 years and then transferred back to Montana.  That alone rates pretty high on the funky scale. 6’4″ Kendal Manuel, who spent his first two seasons at Oregon State before transferring to Montana, was named the Big Sky Top Reserve (seriously, I think that’s the name of the award) and Big Sky Newcomer of the Year last season.

Pridgett and Manuel are the only two players for Montana averaging more than 10 points per game.

Montana and Omaha seem similar on paper.  Both teams only have eight man rotations, both teams are fairly young, and both have been good at home but bad on the road.  Yet, they don’t exactly match up well.

Pridgett and Manuel playing at the wings are likely to outmatch JT Gibson and Zach Thornhill.  On the other hand, Montana has genuinely no size to match up with Matt Pile, and as we’ve seen in the past when Matt Pile has no one to match up with him, he plays very well. He dominates the game.

Matt Pile should be able to take over the game on the offensive end in the post.  Omaha will also need big games out of KJ Robinson and Ayo Akinwole at the point to get penetrate and create shots for themselves and teammates.

Montana is 0-5 on the the road (Stanford, Arkansas, New Mexico, Washington, and Oregon so it’s fairly understandable for them to be 0-5).   Omaha is undefeated at home.  Montana lost to a NAIA team at home, so it might be easy to write them off, but the Grizzlies have beaten North Dakota, Texas Southern, and Coppin State who are all division one, last I checked.  Don’t write them off.

They’re still well coached, they create an awkward match up for Omaha, both teams need this win for momentum heading into their conference schedules.

 

 

 

My trivial Summit League rankings: Dec. 16

1st – South Dakota, 9-3

Last month’s ranking: 1st

Even with a knee injury to senior guard Triston Simpson, the Coyotes are the still the deepest team in the Summit League, even though they don’t really have a signature win.

Forwards Tyler Hagedorn and Stanley Umude combine for the best front court in the League, averaging 34.8 points and 14.2 rebounds together.

2nd – North Dakota State, 7-4

Last month’s ranking: 3rd

This ranking, while trivial, may actually just be based on respect to North Dakota State.

I don’t really like to compare team stats in the non-conference season because everyone plays different levels of competitions, and there are a ton of outliers.  North Dakota State, however, has a weird make up.

The Bison are currently 8th in the conference in points and field goal percentage, 7th in 3 point field goal percentage, last in blocks per game, 8th in forced turnovers, 6th in defensive field goal percentage.  They also have the worst RPI strength of schedule in the Summit.

The Bison are the reason people use the expression “they just find ways to win.”  That’s basically why they are 2nd.  And because I’ve ranked them low in the past, and then they do crazy things like win the conference.

3rd – Omaha, 6-7

Last month’s ranking: 4th

Last I checked, the Mavericks are still the only Summit League team with a win over a power conference school.

With just an 8 man rotation, the overall depth of this team could turn into a potential issue. Finishing in the top 2 in the standings will be most important for the Mavericks, as their depth may not be able to survive 3 games in 3 days in the Summit League tournament.

It cannot be stated enough how important Matt Pile is to this team.  His 19 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 blocks against University of Texas – Too Many Words In a Name has to be one of the Baxter Arena performances by a Maverick.  Three of his assists came from him being double or triple teamed and he just looked at the weak side and saw a cutting Zach Thornhill or Marlon Ruffin to the basket for the easy lay up.  That’s not something he could do the last few years.

Watching Matt Pile on a basketball court is like watching a group of puppy shih tzus playing with a ball, and someone throws a 3 year old English bull dog into the mix and he just bulldozes his way to the ball and take it away from all the shih tzus and doing whatever the hell he wants for the rest of the day.

4th – South Dakota State, 7-6

Last month’s ranking: 5th

The Coyotes have had the luxury of not running into any big injury issues while trying to figure out their new roster.  I also wanted to say “while trying to figure out that new team smell” but I thought that would be weird.

The Jackrabbits have beaten the teams they were supposed to beat, and lost to the teams to the teams they were supposed to lose to.  Except for Nebraska, they should have beat Nebraska.

5th – Oral Roberts, 5-5

Last month’s ranking: 2nd

Oral Roberts is just weird and I don’t even feel like discussing them.

Emmanuel Nzekwesi has missed half of the season with an injury.

They’ve kind of played a tough schedule with Creighton, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Wichita State, and Tulsa but they’ve also played 4 non-division one opponents.

The guards seem selfish and look like they’re intentionally trying to miss jump shots.

Maybe when they get to the conference season and play a more consistent schedule things will turn around for them.

6th – Purdue Fort Wayne, 7-7

Last month’s ranking: 7th

If you watch the Mastodons play basketball, you’ll constantly find yourself asking what’s wrong.  Eventually, you’ll realize their problem is that John Konchar graduated and is now playing professional basketball.

Every offensive possession is played as if there is no plan.  That may be because Jon Coffman has elected to not play a true point guard in the starting lineup.

7th – North Dakota, 4-7

Last month’s ranking: 6th

The Fighting Upset Mascots wont play a home game this season against a division one opponent until January 5th when they play Fort Wayne, so it’s understandable they’ve had a frustrating non-conference.

I thought they turned a corner when they picked up wins against Florida Gulf Coast, Georgia Southern, and a 2 point loss against Campbell in a 3 day tournament.  They lost two games since and are now on a 3 game losing streak.

Freshman De’Sean Allen-Eikens has been a nice surprise for North Dakota, averaging 13.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and he’s already had 2 double-doubles on the season.

8th – Denver, 4-8

Last month’s ranking: 8th

The Pioneers have 2 more wins than most people thought they would at this point in the season, so that’s good.

I don’t really have much to talk about with the Pioneers other than something I want to vent about…

At the Summit League media day, Rodney Billups took a moment to mention junior college transfer Tristan Green could be a big time player for them.  After that, every person making a preseason prediction mentioned how Green could be a difference maker for the team.

Green averaged 2.5 points at a junior college last year, and people just took Billups’ word for it and thought he’d be some kind of stud.  He’s currently averaging 1.6 points in 14 minutes per game. I didn’t understand any hype given to Green, and I think Billups tried to jedi mind trick people.  That or Billups is in over his head as a head coach.

9th – Western Illinois, 2-6

Last month’s ranking: 9th

While 2-6, it might be worth mentioning that Western Illinois has been in all of their losses, with the exception of their loss to Indiana.

All of their losses have been in single digits and they only lost to Evansville by 4, who beat Kentucky.

The Leathernecks also shoot 85% from the free throw line.