1. South Dakota
Last week’s ranking : 3rd
It’s okay, I have a difficult time believing it as well. I’m not wild about it either. Like I said earlier, there is not a huge difference from the best team in the conference to the 7th team in the conference this season. I could just as well be drawing these team names out of a hat and seeing how it goes.
Without Tyler Flack, the Coyotes were able to split the week with North Dakota State and Fort Wayne. They came pretty close to beating the Bison as well. The Coyote defense is something that should be taken seriously. They held the Mavericks to 69, the Jaguars to 74, the Pioneers to 69, and now the Mastodons to 63. All known for scoring this season, and all below their average for points.
In the same week last week, they held North Dakota State’s AJ Jacobson to 2-of-9 shooting in 37 minutes and Fort Wayne’s John Konchar to 4-of-12 from the floor in 36 minutes.
Still, the big test for the Coyotes will be in the first two weeks of February when they play three straight road games at Omaha, North Dakota State, and Fort Wayne. Then come home to play their nemesis South Dakota State.
2. Fort Wayne
Last week’s ranking: 2nd
They’ve lost two conference games by a total of 5 points. Two of their three conference wins are by a total of 6 points. Their next four of five games will be on the road. While the Mastodons’ shooting is exceptional, their defense is average.
The next five games is a crucial part of the season for their positioning in the Summit League tournament. Because of their depth, the top two seeds in the conference tournament are the most important for the ‘Dons in comparison to the other top teams in the conference. Daily RPI predicts the ‘Dons going 3-2 over the next 5 games, and then win the rest of the regular season. There, you don’t need to watch basketball anymore.
By the way, if you watch the ‘Dons get in foul trouble you’re going to spend much of your time trying to figure out if freshman Jax Levitch could turn out to be the real deal. Some of your other time will be spent debating if Jax Levitch is a bad ass name, or just a really weird name. It’s interesting. I think it’s the name of the world’s least trust worthy Financial Advisor, but we’ll keep track of him for his entire life to see what happens. Not weird or anything.
3. North Dakota State
Last week’s ranking: 1st
What happened last week? In the last three halves, the Bison have been outscored by 36 points. Denver out rebounded the Bison by 22 rebounds. Didn’t Denver have like one and a half post players last season?
Here is something that should be a concern to Bison fan: AJ Jacobson is 2 of his last 14 on threes.
Last weeks’s ranking: 5th
The Mavericks are on a roll right now winning three in a row. It should also be worth noting that they will not have back-to-back road games for the rest of the season.
Also, in the last 4 games, Mitch Hahn has shot 56 percent on threes.
Last week’s ranking: 8th
Honestly, I have not had the chance to watch Denver. I don’t have Altitude so I don’t feel that bad about it. They did sweep the week against “a hot” Western Illinois and embarrassed North Dakota State who has the best RPI in the Summit League.
Rodney Billups said that Daniel Amigo was going to have a huge break out year, and I thought he was trying to be funny. He was completely serious. Look at his jump from last season.
Last week’s ranking: 6th
The schedule has not been kind to the Jaguars, but at least they did not lose at Oral Roberts.
This was supposed to be the year for the Jaguars but they lost three key players with no real explanation, and also with the graduation of Marcellus Barksdale they lost their scrappyness on defense. The Jaguars do still have a fair amount of depth to go to the wire with any team in the Summit. However, if they do get a game down to the wire, they’re 8th in the conference in free throw shooting. Hopefully they don’t get into too many battles at the line with teams, even though they are likely to.
7. Western Illinois
Last week’s ranking: 4th
I love how the argument for this team for being good by every commentator is that “they are a weird match up.”
When are we just going to admit that this team completely relies on Garret Covington playing efficient on top of him having a second guy to be competent on a nightly basis?
In the Leathernecks’ only 4 wins over D1 teams this season, Covington shot 57 percent from the field. In just their last 4 losses, Covington has shot 28 percent from the floor. He’s only shot better than 50 percent in one of their losses.
Covington was apparently slowed with an injury against Omaha. It’s cool, I’m sure Billy Wright has something up his sleeve. Like putting all of his chips on switching to a zone defense and then never going away from it.
8. Oral Roberts
Last week’s ranking: 9th
They picked up their first conference win, and they may not be having that great of a year but at least they are staying in most of their games. With their next four of five games at home, they may be able to sneak in a few wins to help give them enough distance to not be the team left out of the conference tournament.
9. South Dakota State
Last week’s ranking: 8th
Hold on. I am taking a minute to reflect on something.
Remember when TJ Otzelberger was hired and the Jackrabbit fans were thinking that the new system was going “to be like Omaha, but with actual defense.”
At least Mike Daum is balling.