Summit League predictions: Feb 14-17

Happy Valentine’s Day, or Happy Not Caring What Today Is Day, whichever you want to call it.  We’re in the second half of the Summit League schedule, and nearing toward Summit League tournament positioning, so things are going to get pretty interesting as teams are looking for a little revenge over the teams that beat them.

February 14

Western Illinois @ Fort Wayne

I got it right when Western Illinois won at Fort Wayne in January, and that is pretty big because when picking Western Illinois to win, I am right 5% of the time.

Western Illinois hasn’t won during the week of Valentine’s Day since 2013.

John Konchar really struggled against the Leathernecks last month, but he has been improving as the conference season has been going on.  Perhaps, the length of Brandon Gilbeck bothered him, but Konchar will be able to figure it out at home against the Leathernecks.

South Dakota @ Oral Roberts

With an overtime win against North Dakota State and a 10 point loss against South Dakota State, the Golden Eagles appear to be bouncing back from their struggles.

The Coyotes are 4-1 on the road this season in the Summit League, and they’re a roster filled with competitive defensive players.  Competitive defensive players that are all currently in “playoff mode” trying to earn that top spot in the Summit League tournament and an automatic NIT bid.

Omaha @ Denver

Denver will be seeking revenge after their double-overtime loss in Baxter Arena.  It was a game that anyone could have won, but the Mavericks just happened to escape with the win.  A game that showed their post players being just plain afraid of Matt Pile.

Also, how freaking great was that play at the end of regulation to get Daniel Norl that three point shot?  That play almost never works out, but the Mavericks executed it perfectly.  Really makes you feel like maybe they would have won the Summit League Tournament last season if they had a timeout near the end of the game to set up a play.

Either way, here we are now.  We’re in the revenge part of the season.  Daniel Amigo is back in the starting lineup for the Pioneers, and you could see how he felt frustrated with the referees and especially Matt Pile in Omaha.  Now, both players will be in the starting lineup, and Amigo will be looking to go right at the freshman.  If the Pioneers get off to a hot start at home, it should be difficult for the Mavericks to play catch up.


February 17

Western Illinois @ South Dakota State

I’m getting super good at making home made burritos.  I’ll use some bison, or some ground turkey with taco seasoning…then I’ll spread some avocado on the wrap, a little ranch, corn, almond cheese, and sometimes I’ll throw in some red or yellow peppers.  I’ll try and get some brown rice and black beans involved, when I can.  It’s pretty incredible.

Fort Wayne @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

Who even knows what’s going on with these two teams?  North Dakota State squandered a big lead the last time these two teams played, and I thought that was Fort Wayne’s specialty.

This is the last home game for North Dakota State’s AJ Jacobson and Paul Miller, and even though Paul Miller may not even play, we’re taking the home team in a situation like this.

Omaha @ South Dakota on ESPN3

With their defense, and mixture of personnel issues, the Coyotes should be able to pick up an easy win against the Mavericks.

It’s nice that Mitch Hahn came back with 21 points against Fort Wayne, but there are too many IFs for the Mavericks to pick up an upset in Vermillion.  They can win if Mitch Hahn plays like vintage Mitch Hahn.  They can win if Renard Suggs and/or Ayo Akinwole give some meaningful minutes off the bench.  They can win if KJ Robinson can score efficiently.  They can win if Matt Pile comes plays like he did in the first half of the season.

 

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Summit League predictions: Feb 8-10

February 8th

Western Illinois @ Omaha

The Mavericks have played well at home this season, and they’ll be taking on Western Illinois with 9 days since playing a game.  The 9 days of rest will have proven to be beneficial for the Mavericks, and there really cannot be too many reasons for it to have not been that great for the Mavericks since there have been so many injuries they are considering taking the good body parts of all the injured players and fusing them into one person to construct a Frankenstein basketball player.

The Mavericks were able to out rebound the Leathernecks by 9 in Macomb, and they can probably do the same in Omaha, even without Lamar Wofford-Humphrey, as Matt Pile and Mitch Hahn can work to keep Brandon Gilbeck off the glass.

Fort Wayne @ South Dakota

The Mastodons are bringing a 2 game winning streak into Vermillion, but they were 1-3 on the road in the first half of the conference season.  They played 2 of those losses close and only lost by 1 and 2.

The ‘Dons may not have be able to keep this game as close as they would like.  The ‘Dons live and die by the 3, and they’re playing on the road against the best perimeter defense in the Summit League.  They were 3-of-20 on threes when these two teams met in Fort Wayne.

North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

The Golden Eagles may have started the conference season off strong, but the youth and the lack of depth has really been starting to show.

South Dakota State @ Denver

To win, Denver will have to outscore the Jackrabbits.  That is the most obvious thing to ever be said, but to do that, they’ll have to defend the Jackrabbits.  The defending seems to be the problem for the Pioneers.

February 10th

North Dakota State @ Denver

I completely think the Bison are a better basketball team than the Pioneers, but traveling to Tulsa and then Denver might be a bit much for the Bison.

Fort Wayne @ Omaha

So for John Konchar’s 2 career games in Omaha, he has averaged 30 points and 11.5 rebounds.  He has also shot 24-of-29 from the Baxter Arena floor.  Okay, I’m going to go hit random objects with a hammer.

It is 90’s night at Baxter Arena.  Apparently, an original Blockbuster card will get you in for free.  It’s a good thing my counterfeit Blockbuster card business is going to finally pay off.

South Dakota State @ Oral Roberts

I’m trying to imagine all the ways that Oral Roberts could take control of the Jackrabbits and win this game.  I’ve got nothing.

 

 

Hey, I think Matt Pile might be Captain America

I was never really a Marvel guy until about 2010, but I have seen enough of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to build an understanding that Matt Pile could actually be the real Captain America.

I am not going to sit here and start a conspiracy that Matt Pile became the way that he is, physically, because of some super serum put together in some lab, but I’m not going to sit here and tell anyone that it’s not possible.  I’m sure Pile built his physical presence up in a gym, but his 6 blocks against the Pioneers would likely have Denver wanting him to be tested for any scientific advantages he may possess.

Okay, I don’t really want to talk about Pile’s physical characteristics anymore, because, well, this is weird enough.  But what else does Pile possess for me to come up with such a claim?

Captain America doesn’t back down from a challenge, and neither does Matt Pile.  Capt moves without fear, as does Matt Pile.

When faced up against one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country, Pile had to go up against NBA prospects.  Pile went right at them because he didn’t want to show fear.  When going up against South Dakota State’s Mike Daum, when Pile first got the ball, he looked right at Daum and took it right to the basket for a bucket.  On defense, when first against Daum, Daum tried going right back at him, and Pile blocked his shot.

Captain America is the tactician of whatever team he is on.  It would be a stretch to refer to Pile as a “floor general” in any sense, but he’s quite tactical on the court to use his strengths to help his team.

Watch Pile whenever he first gets the ball down on the block in any game.  With his back to the basket, he’ll look at his defender, he’ll look at the basket, and he’ll figure out his first move to show his defender who is stronger, and not that he’s not afraid.

As the game progresses and he catches the ball down on the block, with his back to the basket, he’ll stand there, maybe take a few dribbles, and watch teammates on the perimeter move around for an open basket, and he is completely capable of finding them.

Random thought:  The dumbest scene in all of the Marvel Universe is in “Captain America: Civil War” when Steve Rogers is holding the helicopter from flying away, and he switches arms positions, which the director wanted to do apparently because he just thought it looked cool.  Why wouldn’t the powered chopper just pull Rogers clear into the sky with it for the second he lets go of the platform?  I have no idea, but the scene would’ve been just as good, if not better, with Matt Pile as Captain America.

The free throws aren’t there, yet, and South Dakota and South Dakota State both exposed that Pile needs to figure out what to do when being double teamed, but he’s got a long basketball career ahead of him and he will figure that stuff out.  Also, how many freshmen in the Summit League are drawing double teams?  None.  Just Matt Pile.

There was a game in Tre’Shawn Thurman’s freshman year that I thought was really his coming out party.  It was ironically against Nevada, but he played with such confidence and swagger, and you could tell he felt he was the best player on the court.  I thought he was the best freshman Omaha had landed after watching him that game.

After watching Pile play Denver, I thought maybe Pile was the best freshmen Omaha has landed so far.  Pile had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 blocks that night.  That may not have the feel of “this kid is the future” but he absolutely boggled Denver’s minds that night.  They couldn’t figure out how to score in the post with Pile on the floor.  Daniel Amigo, one of the best post players in the league, couldn’t match up against Pile.  As good as Thurman was against Nevada in the Baxter Arena, I never felt like Nevada was just frustrated by the guy’s presence like Denver.  I mostly just felt like Nevada was bad.

Also, coincidentally, both Thurman and Pile were able to take advantage of opportunities with older players being slowed down by injuries.  Pile received more playing time with Mitch Hahn, and now Lamar Wofford-Humphrey being injured.  Thurman picked up minutes with Jake White was sidelined, and the playing time probably helped him develop faster.  Hopefully, it can pay off in the same way for Pile.

Captain America may not have the coolest abilities out of all the Avengers, but he has the biggest heart and displays the biggest signs of leadership.  Matt Pile may not be the leader of the Mavericks, yet, but make no mistake that one day he will be Captain Omerica.


The Mavericks still have 6 regular season games remaining, and at least one Summit League tournament game to play, and Pile has already made an impression on the program.  This season he:

  • Had 6 blocks against Denver, which was the most by any Maverick in a basketball game since transition
  • Has 29 blocks on the season, one more and he’ll pass Tre’Shawn Thurman by an freshman since transition.  He’s 7 blocks away from passing Thurman for the most by any Mav for blocks on a season since transition.
  • Was the first Maverick freshman to record a double-double since transition.  It was against Doane, but it still counts.
  • Has the 4th most points by a freshman in a season since transition, he’s 28 points away from passing Marcus Tyus for 3rd.