1.North Dakota State
There is no team better suited to survive an injury to a top three player on their roster.
As good as the Bison appear, they are last in the conference in free throw percentage. Hopefully, they don’t find themselves in a close game down the stretch and need big time free throws…which is how they picked up a few close losses last season.
The Bison are also 8th in the conference in three point field goal percentage. Even though they are the best team in the conference, they are not flawless.
2. Fort Wayne
Their offense has such great ball movement and passing around the perimeter for finding open shots, it is no wonder they are one of the best three point shooting teams in the country. I just need to know how John Konchar went off against Omaha and then had just 6 points at home against Denver. It legitimately hurts my feelings.
The Mastodons appear to be struggling a little more on defense than we thought they would, and for being such a great offensive team, they are not exactly blowing out Summit League opponents. They lost by 2 to Western Illinois, beat Oral Roberts by 11, defeated Omaha by 2 on a last second shot, and escaped Denver by 4. They’re only really playing 7 guys, which is what hurt them toward the end of the year last season.
3. South Dakota
Craig Smith said he had a far more competitive roster this season, and he was 100% correct. The Coyotes would be 4-0 had it not been for a late Mike Daum shot in Brookings. They have the Bison and Mastodons this week, and expect Smith’s team to give the two top Summit League teams everything they’ve got.
The Yotes will be without Tyler Flack until February, he leads South Dakota in rebounds and blocks, and is second on the team in points and free throw percentage. South Dakota has a difficult schedule with Flack out, so maintaining a top spot in the league may be difficult. They will start February with three straight road games at Omaha, North Dakota State, and Fort Wayne. He might be back in time to play that North Dakota State game.
4. Western Illinois
This hurts me to core, but there is no denying the fact that the Leathernecks are 3-1 and have a road win over Fort Wayne. Garret Covington is solid, but the rest of his supporting cast has a history of inconsistency, so we will see how long this lasts.
Sophomore center Brandon Gilbeck had a week for himself. Against Oral Roberts and South Dakota State, he averaged 11 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. If Gilbeck can play like this in the Summit League, the Leathernecks have a chance to stay good. Since last season, the Leathernecks are 5-0 when Gilbeck score 10 or more points.
You would think with 3 wins, the Leathernecks have already secured a spot in the Summit League tournament, right?
The Mavericks looked like they were completely back on track against Fort Wayne and South Dakota State, for the most part. The Mavericks perimeter defense is sick, and I do not mean that in a good way. It’s also difficult for them to hold on to a lead, because they do not know how to slow it down and burn clock in the final 5 minutes of the game. That’s a negative effect when you have a Take The First Decent Shot mentality.
Marcus Tyus shot 18-of-26 last week. Holy crap!
Did you know, that even though the Mavericks are 1-3 in conference play, they still have the second best RPI in the conference?
The Jaguars dropped two games last week, but it they were on the road at North Dakota State and South Dakota so it is pretty understandable. The newcomers and supporting cast have under performed a bit this season, but I’m sure I just jinxed it and they’ll have the night of their lives on Wednesday.
7. South Dakota State
I thought maybe the last time the Jackrabbits lost 2 conference games in the same week was in World War 2 before the Summit League was ever created, but it was actually last year.
1-3 and their next 4 of 5 are on the road. This might get ugly for the Jackrabbits. There is honestly not a huge world of difference this season between the top two teams and the bottom two teams. It might actually be in the Jackrabbits best interest to finish in 7th or 8th, as the Summit League tournament is designed to give the winner of the day one games an extra day rest.
All of their conference games have been close with their biggest loss by 6 to South Dakota. The Pioneers do have a solid 8 man rotation, but like Omaha they have struggled on defense so far this season.
Their next 4 games at Western Illinois and North Dakota State at home, and then on the road against Omaha and IUPUI.
9. Oral Roberts
It was assumed that this would be a down year for the Golden Eagles, but their next 6 out 7 games are in Tulsa so maybe they have a chance to pick up some wins.