1st – South Dakota, 14-8 (5-3)
Last week’s ranking: 3rd
The Coyotes have won 5 of their last 6 games and shot higher than 50% in the last 4 games. Their bench hasn’t been what we thought it would be this season, but Ty Chisom and Brandon Armstrong have been giving the Coyotes quality minutes off the bench. They haven’t really needed much of their bench as their starters are so solid. All of their starters average 30 or more minutes per game.
Interesting stat: South Dakota is 4th in division one in 3 point field goal percentage. The Coyotes also have the 9th best overall field goal percentage. They also rank 37th in free throw percentage, and that’s 4th in the conference. Western Illinois, North Dakota, and North Dakota State are all in the top 10.
2nd – South Dakota State, 15-8 (6-2)
Last week’s ranking: 2nd
In the preseason, I pointed out that it seems every year there is always a team with bunch of injuries and it’s just a year from hell. I thought that would be South Dakota State this year, and while they have faced a number of injuries to key personnel, they are 6-2 in the first half of conference season. Their players really buy into the The Next Guy philosophy. After injuries to senior Brandon Key and junior Tray Buchanan, the team turned to sparingly used freshman Matt Mims, who has averaged 9.7 points and shot 67% from the field in the last few games.
Interesting stat: While seeing South Dakota was 4th in division one in field goal percentage, I also noticed South Dakota State is 14th. They’ve ranked 1st in field goal percentage conference games. It helps when their two main interior post players Douglas Wilson and Matt Dentlinger both shoot higher than 60% from the field. Also, somewhat scary they can shoot that well as a team and still average more than 10 offensive rebounds per game.
3rd – North Dakota State, 14-7 (5-2)
Last week’s ranking: 1st
Ranked 1st last week, and they dropped a game at South Dakota State and beat Denver, so not the biggest week to brag about. It’s not like any of this matters. It’s just winter and you came here because you’re bored.
Interesting stat: College Basketball Power Index predicts the Bison to have the best winning record at the end of the season, in the Summit League. They have also had the weakest overall RPI Strength of Schedule if that makes you feel any better.
4th – Oral Roberts, 11-9 (4-3)
Last week’s ranking: 2nd
The Golden Eagles only lost one game last week, at South Dakota, but one has to ask…if this team is known for their size and having such a strong interior presence, how did they let Tyler Hagedorn score 31 points and grab 9 rebounds against them?
Interesting stat: None, they’re boring.
5th – Omaha, 12-10 (5-2)
Last week’s ranking: 5th
Even if the Mavericks did win 2 games last week, they found themselves down after big scoring droughts in each game. With moving Ayo Akinwole to the bench, the Mavericks will have 2 high energy guys off the bench with he and Marlon Ruffin hopefully providing sparks when the team finds themselves in those droughts. Ruffin has scored in double figures in six consecutive games.
Interesting stat: Omaha has the highest RPI in the conference.
6th – North Dakota, 10-12 (4-4)
Last week’s ranking: 6th
After 4 straight losses, the Fighting Hawks were able to get a bit back on track with home wins over Denver and Western Illinois. They really don’t have much of a bench, they may have a few more wins if they had one or two more quality guys. Aanen Moody not playing since December 1st hasn’t helped.
Interesting stat: Marlon Stewart has won more Player of the Week awards than anyone in the conference this season.
7th – Purdue Fort Wayne, 9-13 (2-5)
Last week’s ranking: 7th
The Mastodons held a 5 point lead on the road against Omaha, but did not score for the last 4 1/2 minutes to let Omaha take back the lead for the win. Jon Coffman stated that neither of his point guards have really been in that situation and the team really couldn’t hold their composure. This has been consistent with their team play, as it frequently looks like no one really knows what’s going on and they are definitely the sloppiest team in the conference.
Interesting stat: They are leading the conference in Summit League games in rebounds and steals, but are still dead last in field goal percentage, three point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, points, turnovers, and defensive three point field goal percentage. Two conference wins is actually fairly impressive when you take that into consideration.
8th – Western Illinois, 5-13 (2-6)
Last week’s ranking: 8th
The Leathernecks have lost three consecutive games and will now have North Dakota State and South Dakota State at home before two straight road games against Fort Wayne and South Dakota. A wise bald man once said “d’oh!”
Interesting stat: They’re pretty good at free throws.
9th – Denver, 5-17 (1-7)
Last week’s ranking: 9th
I’m not for or against Rodney Billups being fired, but I saw a supporter of his say his team is young so you have to give him a chance. Well, his team was experienced last season and they still finished dead last. South Dakota State is also just as young, and they’re currently first in the conference standings. I realize this sounds like I’m pro Billups getting fired, but as an Omaha fan, he can coach Denver as long as he likes.
Interesting stat: Heading into last week, Denver had the 2nd fewest turnovers in the conference. Last week against the North Dakota schools, the Pioneers had a total of 31 turnovers and now rank 7th in turnovers.