I went 4-2 last week missing on IUPUI @ Western Illinois and Omaha @ North Dakota State. Who else would have picked IUPUI over South Dakota State or Denver over Oral Roberts? I’m pretty damn happy missing on North Dakota State. I feel like Western Illinois just keeps lying to us though. They beat Wisconsin and people thought they would be a dangerous team, they still have votes in the Mid-Major 25, they returned a bunch of experience, but their shooting percentage keeps plummeting. They’re the girlfriend that keeps cheating on your buddy, and she continues telling him this is the last time, so you have to keep getting drunk and playing Rock Band with him until 4 in the morning every Saturday night to help him keeping his mind off of stuff…and really you need to tell him to just move on. Not talking from experience or anything.
South Dakota @ North Dakota State on ESPN3
The home team won each game in this series last year, which is partly why I am taking the Bison here…but mostly because the Bison are an overall better team. The Bison won in Fargo by 24 the last time these two teams played. One scary thing, (and I know I have mentioned this before) no team in the Summit League forces teams to take more threes than the Coyotes, and the Bison shoot the 2nd most threes in the league while being 7th in the league in 3 point field goal percentage. The Bison were 8-of-12 from 3 at home against Denver and 8-of-21 at home against Omaha. There are really not a lot of knock down three point shooters for the Bison, only Paul Miller and AJ Jacobson shoot higher than 30% from three. The Bison have also gone with a few different lineup changes over the last few games, which has been a little confusing, but David Richman says his players are completely fine with this.
The fun match up of the game to watch could be the forward position between Tre Burnette (14.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 47fg%) versus AJ Jacobson (13.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 46fg%). But the real match up to see is whoever Craig Smith decides to try and stop Paul Miller.
Oral Roberts @ IUPUI on ESPN3
I picked IUPUI to win this game before the start of the season. I thought Oral Roberts would be favored because it was Oral Roberts and it is IUPUI, then the Jaguars would surprise the Golden Eagles, but instead Oral Roberts is 1-3 and IUPUI is 3-1.
Oral Roberts really has too many newcomers to face a defensive team like the Jaguars. So far, in 4 Summit League games, the Jaguars are 2nd in the Summit in defensive field goal percentage and 1st in defensive three point field goal percentage. In 3 games against the Jaguars last season, Obi Emegano shot 10-of-33 from the field and 2-of-9 from three. The Golden Eagles have shown that they struggle without the preseason player of the year by losing to South Dakota and Denver, each team’s only conference win so far, so how could they do when he is being contained by Marcellus Barksdale?
Denver @ Western Illinois
Denver won in Macomb last season, but this was when Western Illinois basically did not have a roster anymore due to injuries late in the year. This basketball game could be classically ugly. There will be one team does not get into the Summit League tournament, and this is looking like the two worst teams in the Summit League, so the last tournament spot could be on the line.
In 4 conference games so far, Denver has the worst defensive field goal percentage in the league, and Western Illinois has shown they can shoot well against poor defenses. I don’t want to think about this game anymore.
IPFW @ South Dakota State
Both teams are going to have difficult schedules on the week, and this should be a really fun game. Fort Wayne lost by 29 the last time they played in Brookings, a game that the ‘Dons had 24 turnovers in. Now, the ‘Dons are coming into this game on a 6 game winning streak.
This is a match up for two of the best back courts in the Summit, and there should be close to 20 three point field goals made. A serious question for the Jackrabbits is: is Jake Bittle playing? Without Bittle, I am taking IPFW. The ‘Dons are a slightly better defensive team than the Jackrabbits, which could make a big difference in a game between two of the best teams. In their first three conference games, the Jackrabbits have shot 38% from the field against IUPUI, Western Illinois, and Denver. All of these games have been without Jake Bittle. They cannot shoot 38% from the floor and beat the ‘Dons.
I don’t know how far back you can go and replay games on ESPN3, but if you can, go watch South Dakota State @ IUPUI. South Dakota State, who is supposed to be the best coached team in the Summit, would go 5 minute stretches with 4 players not even attempting to move without the ball on every single play. There is no one on the team that will force their teammates to move without Jake Bittle.
Denver @ IUPUI on ESPN3
See above about the South Dakota State not moving the ball on IUPUI. Can IUPUI keep Denver from moving the ball around and getting shots off in their Princeton offense? IUPUI swept Denver last season by a combined 4 points. This game will be close, it will be low scoring, and it will be as frustrating as a 14 year old boy dealing with dial up internet when his parents are not home. Hey, it takes a while to do homework when you’re 14. Especially with a poor internet connection.
IPFW @ Omaha
The two highest scoring teams in the Summit will be facing off. I would like to think the Omaha crowd will be larger than normal. Their team is on their longest winning streak since transitioning to division one, Devin Patterson has won the conference player of the week award twice in a row, Tra-Deon Hollins leads the nation in steals, Omaha is coming off one of their best weeks in division one beating North Dakota State and South Dakota on the road, there will be no competing Creighton or NFL game, and the brand of Omaha basketball is getting some recognition right now.
This is the only game of the week for Omaha, while IPFW has to go on the road against South Dakota State and Omaha. South Dakota State is ranked 15th in the Mid-Major Poll, IPFW is 20th, and Omaha is 10 votes away from being 25th.
Patterson against Mo Evans should be a really fun match up to watch in this game. In 4 games against each other; Patterson has averaged 9.3 ppg, 2.3 apg, 1.3 spg, and shot 52% from the field; Evans has averaged 12.3 ppg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, and shot 42% from the field. In IPFW’s current 6 game winning steak (not counting Purdue North Central), Evans has averaged 17.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.8 apg, and shot 49% from the field. In Omaha’s current 6 game winning streak, Patterson has averaged 21.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2 spg, and shot 53% from the field.
Maybe Patterson and Evans cancel each other out, I don’t know. Another interesting match up should be the battle in the post with IPFW’s Joe Reed (10.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 55 fg%) and John Konchar (11.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 58fg%) against Jake White (16 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 57fg%) and Tre’Shawn Thurman (14.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 52fg%). IPFW could start Brent Calhoun at the center spot, but Jon Coffman regularly takes him out pretty quickly and plays small ball with the 6’4″ Konchar at the 4 position. Calhoun has gone from basically just being a tree in the middle of the lane to being effective in the last couple of games for the ‘Dons. Last week against South Dakota and Denver, Calhoun averaged 13 & 5 and shot 11-of-12 from the floor.
These teams actually sound pretty close to each other on paper. Now I feel bad for dogging on the ‘Dons all year. Okay, how about this. At the 2 guard position, Tra-Deon Hollins and Max Landis are almost opposite. Hollins is not a great three point shooter, Landis leads the Summit in three point field goals made (Evans is 2nd in three point field goals made). Landis is not known for being a great defender, Hollins leads the nation in steals. Who is going to get the better of the two here?
This game has a recipe for a lot of drama. Maybe another game Omaha is down by double digits and has to fight back, but the ‘Dons have several offensive weapons so it might be as easy as coming back on the Leathernecks or Coyotes.
South Dakota State @ North Dakota State on ESPN 3
I admit it. I am for the most part only taking the Bison because they are the home team in this rivalry. Last week, I took NDSU against the Mavericks mainly because they were the home team and because almost no Maverick ever had a quality game against the Bison…and I was very happy to be wrong.
Oral Roberts @ Western Illinois
Obi Emegano should hopefully be fully recovered from his concussion at this point. I also don’t think Obi Emegano would let his team fall to his former school. Against Western Illinois last season, Emegano averaged 23.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and shot 52% from the field. Western Illinois’ best player, Garret Covington had 13.5 ppg, 6 rpg, and shot 26% from the field. Emegano has the ability to fully put his team on his back and win a basketball game similar to North Dakota State’s Lawrence Alexander last season.
Western Illinois also recently stopped using Jamie Batish off the bench, who was leading the conference in three point field goal percentage at one point. Mike Miklusak was giving the Leathernecks’ good minutes off the bench, but was injured against Omaha, and hasn’t been seen since. Miklusak missed the last 13 games of 2014-2015 and Western Illinois went 1-12 with him out. WIU’s top three players: Garret Covington, JC Fuller, and Jabari Sandifer are far too consistent to go up against a guy like Emegano.
Summit League RPI Rankings as of January 12th
51. South Dakota State
107. Oral Roberts
152. South Dakota
170. North Dakota State
252. Western Illinois
Summit League Kenpom Rankings as of January 12th
83. South Dakota State
155. North Dakota State
189. Western Illinois
193. Oral Roberts
209. South Dakota