The Mavericks face North Dakota with more at stake than it just being the last home game of the season

This last Maverick home game will have more factors than “I’m just a simple cave man. North Dakota on road – bad; Omaha at home – good.”

JT Gibson and KJ Robinson already played their Senior Day at Baxter Arena, but unless Omaha plays a CIT or CBI game at Baxter Arena* this will be their game in Omaha.

*Highly unlikely they accept a CIT or CBI invite, if offered.**

**Though, maybe they’d benefit from giving post season experience to the young core of Wanjang Tut, Zach Thornhill, Marlon Ruffin, and Darrius Hughes.  Actually, can we just schedule a late season exhibition game against the Huskers in Baxter Arena?  That should be their punishment for – a lot of stuff.

The Mavericks will be entering this game on a three game winning streak, aiming to build momentum for the Summit League Tournament.  The Fighting Hawks come to Omaha facing consistent inconsistency, winning then losing every other game for the last seven games in a pattern.  If they continue the pattern, North Dakota will lose this game.  It’s not about patterns, and according to Steve Smith’s commentary on NBA 2k20 – This is WHY we play the game!

With the exception of a few, most Summit League teams have been bad on the road this season, so it’s easy just to say Omaha has the dominant advantage against North Dakota.  The Fighting Hawks did win their last road game in Macomb, though.  A three point win, they also had a recent three point win against North Dakota State over the weekend.

Facing injuries and players adapting to a new system, North Dakota has had an inconsistent season.  However, with three seniors capable of hitting clutch shots and decent three point shooting, the Fighting Hawks keep themselves in games.

Last year in the Summit League Tournament, when Omaha and North Dakota faced in the first round, the Mavericks appeared to be the better team, but the Fighting Hawks just wouldn’t go away as they kept knocking down threes.  The same thing happened in Grand Forks in January.  Omaha was up 10 points with 13 minutes to go, but North Dakota went on a run to keep the game close.  They again just wouldn’t freaking go away.  Marlon Stewart is a player who won’t let his team just go away.  Which, is pretty respectable.

Matt Pile and Filip Rebraca battled in Grand Forks forcing both to bad offensive games, but both grabbed double digit rebounds.  Pile struggled on the road against Fort Wayne and Western Illinois, and the Mavericks won both games, but if Pile can make an impact on offense against North Dakota, he could be the difference between the game being close down the stretch, or the Fighting Hawks not going away.  Denver couldn’t stop Pile late in the Mavericks’ latest home game, and it helped put Denver away and keep the Mavericks going to a 23 point win.

Both teams can go on hot and cold streaks, and the Mavericks will want to play as well as they most recently did in Baxter Arena against Denver, if they want to keep North Dakota away from a lead late in the game.  The Mavericks let Kobe Webster keep it close on Saturday in Macomb.  That’s right, I said Kobe Webster, since he was the only Leatherneck who appeared to want to win that game.

Let’s also keep in mind that the Fighting Hawks are undefeated playing in the state of Nebraska this season.

The emotions may run higher for Gibson and Robinson in their last game at Baxter Arena.  There is a lot to play for in this game.  This is their last chance for a win in front of their home crowd  They also have a chance at securing a 3, 4, or 5 seeding in the Summit League Tournament.

That’s dumb, I hate that last sentence.  I don’t think college basketball teams really concern themselves with tournament seeding outside of winning the regular season, or securing a top 2 spot in the Summit League Tournament for a day off in the tournament.

But hear me out.

standings

South Dakota, Omaha, Oral Roberts, and North Dakota are all competing for the 3-6 seeds in the Summit League Tournament.  Maybe seeding matters to teams, maybe it doesn’t.  Omaha and North Dakota play each other tonight, and Oral Roberts will be a strong favorite to beat Western Illinois tomorrow night and Fort Wayne on Saturday night.

Here is where seeding does matter…

Neither of these teams want to finish in 3rd place and go up against South Dakota, as the potential 3 seed, in Sioux Falls.  Omaha’s best options are to finish as the 4 or 5 seed.  Aside from not playing South Dakota in the first round, if they play in the 4 versus 5 game, they get to play at 6pm on a Sunday night, instead of 8:30, so there will be more of a possibility of their fans making the drive to Sioux Falls.

An 8:30 start time on a Sunday and a three hour late drive home isn’t ideal for those of us who have to work early on a Monday morning.  Trying to justify a half day with your boss because you were up late on a Sunday driving back home for a 3 seed versus 6 seed Summit League Tournament game isn’t the dream conversation.  Thanks a lot Summit League.

bracket

From the 4/5 game, the winner would likely go up against South Dakota State.  It would essentially be a home team for a  young South Dakota State team, who hasn’t really been tested.  Still, while young, they are a team who only has one game in the last week of the regular season, and was one of three teams in the Summit League to never play more than 2 consecutive away games in the conference, and also had week long rests heading into some of their biggest games.  Again, no conspiracy that the conference favors anyone here or tries to help them out a little bit the year after they lose one of the conference’s best players ever and 85% of their scoring.***

***Some Maverick sports fans may note the Frozen Four as their moment they really felt like UNO really had a sports community and felt like they were part of something when so many fans made the trip to Boston.  For me, it was sitting in the hotel lobby next to the Denny Sanford Premier Center with Maverick fans watching South Dakota State lose a historic game to the 8 seed Western Illinois.  We drank and cheered the shit out of a Western Illinois’ win.  After the game, we all gleefully marched into the arena as the Jackrabbit fans walked out with their tails between their legs. We talked smack, they had nothing to say.  The arena emptied.  We took over the lower bowl because the arena and Summit League staff stopped giving a shit about the tournament, but we cared.  My most memorable moment as a Maverick fan, so far.  Probably pretty sad it wasn’t an actual Omaha game, just watching a rival go down together, and that march into the arena.

After that tangent…anything can happen.  Seeding may not or may not matter, but this is the point the intensity level goes up.  There is more at stake for the JT, KJ, and the Mavericks.  These games matter, the momentum matters, you never know what’s going to happen this game or the next game.


The laziest Summit League predictions.

February 26th

Denver @ Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne is better.  I do think Denver has a brighter future, but for today Fort Wayne is better.

North Dakota @ Omaha on ESPN+

I closed my eyes, I’m biased, and I like Omaha more.


February 27th

Western Illinois @ Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts is better.

South Dakota State @ North Dakota State on ESPN+

The Jackrabbits may have won in Brookings, but North Dakota State is better.


February 29th

It’s Leap Day, anything can happen.

Western Illinois @ Denver

This game is a toss up.  Denver is probably better, and they’re at home.  Denver as the 8 seed, baby!  Billy Wright gone!  One more year of Billups!

North Dakota @ South Dakota

South Dakota is better, but maybe they rest some dudes after locking up the 3 seed?  It’s their senior day, so that’s doubtful.

Omaha @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

North Dakota is better.  Sigh.

Fort Wayne @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

Oral Roberts is better, but come on Mastodons!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summit League predictions: Feb 19-22

February 19th

South Dakota State @ North Dakota on ESPN+

Look, I’m kind of rooting for the Fighting Hawks in this one, since I picked the Jackrabbits 5th in my preseason rankings and I don’t want to look so stupid; but I cannot find much of a reason for North Dakota to be a favorite in this game.

North Dakota State @ South Dakota on ESPN3

The Bison won their first match up with the Coyotes in Fargo by 2 points. It was a weird ending with a late offensive foul call on Cody Kelley. It was a foul that could have gone either way, and even the referee stood there for a few seconds trying to figure out what to call.  Expect the senior loaded Coyotes to come out focused against the Bison, as they’re also looking to secure a top 2 seed in the conference tournament.


February 20th

Omaha @ Fort Wayne

The Mastodons are not perfect at home. They’ve dropped home games to South Dakota State, Oral Roberts, and North Dakota State.  I’m hoping a dunk by Marlon Ruffin, which didn’t even count, will spark a fire in the Mavericks through the rest of the season.

The ‘Dons are also a young basketball team, and the younger teams tend to get worse as the season goes on. The big difference in their match up with the Mavericks earlier in the season was experience. Late in the game, the youth of the Mastodons’ point guards became an issue against the likes of JT Gibson, Ayo Akinwole, and KJ Robinson.  Jon Coffman said that, I did not say that.

Oral Roberts @ Denver

Matt Pile dominated the Pioneers down low, I can only imagine Emmanuel Nzekwesi and Kevin Obanor will do much of the same.  Especially since they already did once this season.

Robert Jones is eventually going to be so good, though.  Hopefully he doesn’t transfer when Rodney Billups gets fired.


February 21st

Omaha @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Man, I’m just being super biased this week.  The Leathernecks will have a week of rest coming into this game, but it just seems as if these players have given up on Billy Wright, and maybe a week of rest and getting out of any type of rhythm is a bad thing for a team so horrendous at offense.

How crazy would it be if Denver ended up going 2-1 in their last two games and ended up in the Summit League Tournament?  Maybe that saves Rodney Billups’ job…maybe a youthful Denver team sees a youthful South Dakota State team in the Summit League Tournament.  That would be madness.  Some might even call it madness in March.

North Dakota State @ North Dakota on ESPN3

Tough week for North Dakota. They play the two toughest teams in the Summit League at home.  Maybe they drop both games on purpose in hopes of falling to 7th in the conference so they potentially play on Saturday during the Summit League Tournament to get an extra day off in the event they win.  Maybe they don’t.


February 22nd

South Dakota @ South Dakota State on ESPN+

You’re not reading this anymore, are you?

I just think the Coyotes need and want this game more than the Jackrabbits.

 

Summit League predictions: Feb 12-16

February 12th

Western Illinois @ South Dakota on ESPN+

I’ve got this idea for a movie.  It’s like a comedy version of “The Expendables.”  We round up them comedy Hollywood folk like: Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Steve Carell, Dave Chappelle, Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld, and more and it’s just a movie about them playing themselves trying to come up with a parody to “The Expendables” but none of them can stay on track long enough to put together a movie, and they get in a bunch of craziness along the way.

Okay, was that a bigger waste of time to read about, or would it have been a bigger waste of time to hear about a basketball game we already know the outcome to?

Omaha @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

Think about how much the Mavericks had to overcome to defeat the Golden Eagles in Baxter Arena.  Now think of how bad JT Gibson has been struggling shooting the basketball, he’s shot 15% on threes over the last three games, and 23% overall from the field.  Also throw in the fact that Zach Thornhill stole the ball and sprinted down the court to throw down a monstrous dunk as time expired when the Mavericks were already up by 5, and how that must have upset the Golden Eagles.


February 14th

Denver @ South Dakota State

Fort Wayne @ North Dakota State on ESPN+

I’m going over these games together, as it’s fitting both of these match ups take place on Valentine’s Day.  South Dakota State and North Dakota State are the most beloved teams in the Summit League, so I find it ironic they both get home games on Valentine’s Day against the two teams with the least amount of love in the Summit.  Fort Wayne won’t even be in the conference next season, and Denver wishes they weren’t in the conference next season.

It’s so beautiful The Summit League honored Valentine’s Day with match ups that make you feel like you’re watching a bad relationship end, and another game that just plays out like an abusive relationship you want to see end, but the Pioneers think they cannot find anything better.


February 15th

North Dakota @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

The Summit League and ESPN3 invite you to take in a basketball production so low in quality you’ll question if the broadcasters are in an active pursuit to ruin your Saturday.  Yes, tune in to listen to two grown men get paid to mispronounce 19 year old kids’ last names, as they dribble the ball off their knees and miss contested driving floaters 18 feet away from the basket for some damn reason.  You’ll be so frustrated watching this game, you may even take up reading novels again.

Why take Western Illinois in this game, you ask? Just because they are the home team, and every team in this conference has been so bad on the road that it just seems like a safe bet? That, yeah sure, but also because these teams aren’t far enough away in talent, depth, or just about anything, but CJ Duff is a good enough defender to throw Marlon Stewart off on the road to give the Leathernecks an actual chance in a basketball game.  Also, Ben Pyle has a chance to outplay Kienan Walter on the perimeter and go off for a big day, and whenever Pyle plays big, the Leathernecks play big. I get that’s rare.

South Dakota @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

The Golden Eagles have already lost to one South Dakota team at home this season.  Emmanuel Nzekwesi and Kevin Obanor aren’t great at defending big guys on the perimeter like Tyler Hagedorn.


February 16

Fort Wayne @ South Dakota State on ESPN+

Things Fort Wayne would have to do to win this basketball game:

  • Be good at perimeter defense to slow down Douglas Wilson and Matt Dentlinger
  • Actually, be good at defense in general
  • Be good on the road
  • Not turn the ball over
  • Make free throws

Things South Dakota State has to do to win this game

  • Show up

Denver @ Omaha

Jace Townsend had to shoot 8-of-10 on threes to give the Pioneers a win in Denver, and that’s not likely to happen on the road at Omaha.  The Pioneers shot 55% overall from the field in that game, and they are capable of shooting well on the road, but the young Pioneers have a tough weekend on the road at South Dakota State and Omaha.

JT Gibson is going to have to get out of his current shooting slump for the Mavericks not to drop another game at home.  With the lack of depth of the Mavericks, they cannot afford one of their captains shooting 23% from the floor.  Not many teams could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summit League predictions: Jan 29-Feb 2

I actually got some games right last week.  Every home team won last week, but it likely won’t be the same thing this week.

January 29th

South Dakota State @ Oral Roberts

Both teams are undefeated at home this season. The size of Emmanuel Nzekwesi, Kevin Obanor, and Elijah Lufile should be able to contest South Dakota State’s Douglas Wilson and Matt Dentlinger, who both shoot 61% from the floor. If Oral Roberts can alter their shots, they should be able to pick up the win at home.


January 30th

North Dakota @ Fort Wayne

The Mastodons are one of the sloppiest teams I’ve seen in the Summit League in a while.  Though, I will maintain IUPUI had some pretty sloppy teams in their day.  Even with that, North Dakota turns the ball over too much and Fort Wayne is one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the conference, so they’ll have plenty of opportunities at possessions.

North Dakota State @ Western Illinois

The Leathernecks have had success against the Bison in the past in Macomb, but it usually takes a lot of things to go Wright for the Leathernecks and a lot of things to go wrong for the Bison. Seems like a bit to much of something to ask for from a team who may have given up on their head coach.

Please, recognize that play on words with “Wright” for the Leathernecks.

South Dakota @ Denver

The Coyotes defeated the Pioneers by just 2 points in Vermillion, so maybe you think home court advantage will come through for the Pioneers.  Maybe, maybe not. That game was played three weeks ago, and South Dakota wasn’t a fully healthy basketball team.  That game started a streak of the Coyotes winning 5 of the last 6 games. The one loss was at North Dakota State, a game that ended with a few questionable play calls.


February 1st

North Dakota State @ Fort Wayne

The most disciplined team against the least disciplined team.

South Dakota State @ Western Illinois

Am I crazy? Was it crazy when Western Illinois beat the Jackrabbits in Sioux Falls last March?  Yes it was.

Denver @ Oral Roberts

Denver is 0-10 on the road this season, and there is no plausible argument for anyone to make that they pick up their first road at the larger and more experienced Oral Roberts.


February 2nd

South Dakota @ Omaha on ESPN3

South Dakota defeated Omaha in Vermillion by 10, and home court advantage usually isn’t worth 10 total points.  Omaha had opportunities to win that game, but came up short in the end.

Omaha may have a 16 game home winning streak, and I am going to pray they win this game, Omaha has experienced scoring droughts in 5 consecutive home games forcing them to fight their way back to hold on for wins.  South Dakota is too experienced of a team and one of the best shooting teams in the country for the Mavericks to fall behind to.  Omaha is going to have to start out hot and keep it rolling for 40 straight minutes to beat the Coyotes.

The Mavericks will be playing this game on more rest than their opponent, however, the last time Omaha had a week of rest, they ended up losing in Denver by 15 points.

My trivial Summit League rankings: Jan 28

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some post game Western Illinois observations

  • The Mavericks best lineup is the 4 captains (Matt Pile, JT Gibson, KJ Robinson, and Ayo Akinwole) and Marlon Ruffin.
  • Matt Pile’s 37 blocks this season is the most by a Maverick in a season since Omaha transitioned to division one.  There are at least 10 games left this season.
  • CJ Duff of Western Illinois is a sneaky good on ball defender. He forced Gibson to tough shots all night and kept him in front of him the entire time.
  • Matt Pile was 8-of-11 from the free throw line?!  The team was 22-of-25 overall?  Can we get that all the time?
  • This was likely Billy Wright’s last game as a head coach in Omaha.
  • Prior to the start of the season, we wondered who the guy to take the big shots for the Mavericks would be.  That guy is KJ Robinson.
  • Is KJ one of the most underrated Mavericks ever?  If not the most?  The leadership KJ Robinson displays in the second half of game might be some of the best we’ve ever seen.  He may actually enjoy playing from behind, though.
  • The play in which Ben Pyle went up for a lay up, but was blocked by both Matt Pile and Zach Thornhill was one of the best defensive plays to watch in The Baxter Arena.
  • Billy Wright stood outside of the coach’s box for most of the game. He finally received a warning with 2 minutes to go in the game.  Derrin Hansen called him a cheater, and I legitimately could not tell if he was joking.  He was most likely joking, but I seriously couldn’t tell.

More on Billy Wright..

Billy Wright as a head coach in the Summit League might be one of the biggest crimes ever.  The main reason his team had a first half lead was because the Mavericks could not hit shots.  Their threes were uncontested and just didn’t fall.  The Mavericks’ defense adjusted to nick nack officiating and made everything difficult on the Leathernecks in the second half. He couldn’t draw up a single play in the second half to get his players any easy looks.

He actually has quality players on his roster, and any Summit League coach could coach the Leathernecks to a better record.  The lack of discipline and ball movement on the offensive end doesn’t allow for the team to ever get in a flow.  His players frequently looked confused at his play calling in Omaha.

His players are the exact same players from their freshman year to their senior year who no development. I once was told he doesn’t believe in weight lighting during the season.  Business professors should look into renaming The Peter Principle into The Billy Principle.

This game against the Leathernecks is an important one

I know what you’re thinking.  It’s Western Illinois, and the Mavericks have won 14 straight home games, so you’re expecting an Omaha win, but don’t underestimate how important this game is for the Mavericks.

In a preseason post, I pointed out how the Mavericks’ last 5 of 7 games are on the road, so being in 1st place in the conference at the end of this 4 game home stand is the most important thing to the Mavericks. Their lack of depth and loss at Denver, makes protecting home court even more important.

Every conference game is important, but given the Mavericks only regularly playing 8 players, a day off in the Summit League tournament is what they need*. After a loss at Denver, the Mavericks are going to need to play their best basketball against the Leathernecks to gain that confidence and momentum with these 4 home games to head into the end of the regular season.

*Most of the Summit League teams aren’t really deep, so the first 2 seeds are important to everyone. Teams in the 5th and 6th spots with 2 weeks to go in the regular season might want to consider intentionally losing games to drop to the 7 seed to get a day off.

Ayo Akinwole started off the season hot, but has cooled off and gone missing as KJ Robinson has been playing strong for the Mavericks.  In the last 4 games, Akinwole has averaged 2.3 points and shot 29% from the field.  Don’t blame Robinson on this. I don’t know why you would, unless you’re a psycho, but Akinwole isn’t getting by dudes like he was at the beginning of the season.

Zach Thornhill also went missing against the Pioneers not scoring at all.

Marlon Ruffin has turned into the perfect energy guy off the bench to lift the Mavericks when the team runs into a drought.  When the Mavericks hit a lull in the game, he’s capable of starting the run.  KJ Robinson has also been that guy, but you expected that since the start of the season when you didn’t see him in the starting lineup.

The Leathernecks give up the most points per game in the Summit League at 84 points per game, and have the worst defensive field goal percentage at 50%.  So this is the game for the Mavericks to regain composure and confidence after a 2 game losing streak.

However, Western Illinois does have experienced players on their roster. Coming into the season, they had the 4th most division one minutes returning to their team in the Summit League.  They currently have 4 guys averaging double figure scoring numbers, and all 4 are capable of knocking down big threes.  I mention this, because at most Mavericks games I find myself some kid from the opposing team shooting lights out on a career day and screaming: “WHY CAN’T HE MISS!”

If the Mavericks have one of their typical lulls in the game, and they allow the Leathernecks to get hot, things could get dicey for the Mavericks.  I’m imagining a world where Omaha drops consecutive games to Denver and Western Illinois, it’s bad. It’s as bad as the time Netflix recommended I watch “Ghost Rider” as a 97% match.