So for my preseason rankings, I went through the Summit League schedule and applied wins and losses to each game, and I did it several times looking at different angles and added up all the records to come out with some standings. So what the hell, why not provide some updated predictions as teams actually physically play?
South Dakota @ IPFW
The home team lost each game in this series last season. I admit to being a jerk toward IPFW all year, and I have little faith in this team’s post game and overall depth. I also was not too huge on South Dakota going into the season, so this is a bit difficult of a game to pick. The ‘Dons were never really tested in the non-conference, but they were able to pick up a win at home against Oral Roberts…which is something I originally thought would happen given Oral Roberts back and forth schedule to start Summit League play after playing an incredibly difficult non-conference schedule.
South Dakota forces more teams to take more threes than any other team in the league, and the ‘Dons make 10 threes per game and are 2nd in the conference in three point field goal percentage, which is why I am taking IPFW in this game…with a low amount of confidence.
Match up of the game could be: John Konchar (11.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 57 fg%) versus Tre Burnette (15.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 48fg%). Both are undersized at the 4 position, but are both very essential for their teams.
Oral Roberts @ Denver
I really wanted to say Oral Roberts here, and really just on the basis of Oral Roberts Cannot Drop Seven Games in a Row. That thinking is how you lose 500 dollars in roulette. How could it possibly land on red 6 times in a row? Clearly, the smart decision here is to put all my money on black! Green double zero! Where is that hospital that gives you money for a kidney?
The key to this game is if Obi Emegano will be in the game or not. Emegano missed Oral Roberts’ game against South Dakota and the Golden Eagles ended up losing by 10. The team made up of mostly newcomers had 22 turnovers against the Coyotes. You cannot turn the ball over against Denver who is going to make the most out of every possession on you, especially when Denver is traditionally a very good home team.
Assuming Emegano is not playing…the match up of the game could be Jalen Bradley (10.1 ppg, 24 made threes, 38 3pt fg%) versus Nate Engesser (13.1 ppg, 33 made threes, 56 fg%).
South Dakota State @ IUPUI
This is another game that is coming down to a key injury. Jake Bittle has missed the last 6 games, and the Jackrabbits have acknowledged that they have a number of little nagging injuries to a number of players. The Jacks have dropped 2 of their last 5, which really is not all that terrible, but all the last 5 games have been close with or without Bittle…the scrappy defense of the Jaguars could really get to the Jackrabbits if they do not have Bittle. Seriously though, if Bittle plays you can change my prediction to South Dakota State winning the game. I discussed how the Summit League is so close that an injury to any team could affect their standings in conference play. Granted, I said teams 2 to 8, but Rob, you were there!
The key match up in this game could be Matt O’Leary (10.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 46 fg%) versus Mike Daum (11.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 52 fg%). I realize I look like a total clown picking this as the match up, but Daum could be the only chance the Jackrabbits have at stopping O’Leary. O’Leary has really been consistent all year and he kept getting wide open looks and getting to the basket against Omaha, but just couldn’t convert as he went 4-of-12 from the field…he could be able to find the bottom of the basket if he gets the same type of looks at home. Yes, I know defensively the Jackrabbits are different team than Omaha, but ride this out with me. O’Leary also leads all players 6’7″ or taller in assists in the league, so there is that as well.
Omaha @ North Dakota State
See, I am not a completely biased loon! The Mavericks have yet to beat North Dakota State since transitioning to D1. They are going to have to overcome the fact that almost no player on their current active roster has really had a good game against the Bison. In 4 career games, Devin Patterson has averaged 7.8 points and shot 22% from the field against the Bison. Ouch. Tre’Shawn Thurman did have 18 and 8 in his first game against the Bison last season, but only had 2 points later in the season when they moved him to the bench to bring in Jake White.
The Mavs need Thurman, Jake White (who combined for 2-of-13 in two games against the Bison last season), Daniel Meyer, and Randy Reed to play big against the defensively sound post of Chris Kading, Dexter Werner, and AJ Jacobson.
The fun match up will be Thurman against Jacobson after Thurman had his 18 and 8 in their first meeting and Jacobson had 17 and 8 in their first career game against each other. The key match up will be if Tra-Deon Hollins who leads the nation in steals can keep the ball away from Paul Miller who is scoring 16.6 points per game and shooting 43% from the field and from behind the arch.
IUPUI @ Western Illinois
I fully believe IUPUI is the better team of the two, but IUPUI has not won in Macomb since 2011…and the Leathernecks are a completely different team at home. This game is on ESPN3, but it could be as difficult to watch as someone trying to decide between rebooting Weekend at Bernie’s or trying to come out with a good plot line for Weekend at Bernie’s 3. Watching Marcellus Barksdale defend Garret Covington could be worth the watch, but I have come to terms that Covington for as good of a scorer that Covington is, is incredibly boring to watch.
Omaha @ South Dakota
Alright good, I am back to being a homer. Both games between these two teams were exciting last year, even if Omaha did play with a hobbled Devin Patterson in Vermillion. The Mavs will have to hit some threes against South Dakota and/or get to the free throw line as much as possible. Omaha MIGHT have JT Gibson back by this one for some three point shooting.
IPFW @ Denver
The Dons were absolutely unphased by the Pioneers last season beating them by 16 points in both contests. Does this not seem like the least interesting match up of all Summit League teams? This is the Rachel Weisz film of the Summit League. Seriously, find a serious actor or actress with a lineup of less interesting films. It gets shaky after “The Mummy.”
North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts
Oral Roberts should have Obi Emegano back, which I think would add plenty enough emotion to give them confidence after losing so many games recently. I would like to say the Bison have the best defensive guards in the Summit League to handle Emegano, but he had 34 points on 12-of-17 shooting against the Bison last season in Tulsa. The Mabee Center is not an easy place for teams to come in and pick up wins, unless you are South Dakota…then it is a little easy somehow.