Omaha versus Fort Wayne preview

There is not a ton of separation between Omaha and Fort Wayne, just four straight wins for the Mastodons over the Mavericks.

It is difficult to beat a team that you are evenly matched with three times in one season.  Omaha is confident right now, and they are riding a three game winning steak, but who knows what their confidence level is when matched up against the only team that they couldn’t pick up a win against this season.

Even as Derrin Hansen was expecting any possible outcome, on the post game interview after the win against North Dakota State, it sounded as if he was playing off the anger in his attitude.  It could be that every game between the Omaha and Fort Wayne in the last two seasons has been close, but the Mavericks haven’t gotten the cigar.  Cigars are bad for you, so it’ s not like that part of it is a big deal.  The Mastodons could be in the heads of the Mavericks players and coaches.

One thing that would instantly jump out to the Mavericks is John Konchar.  Konchar is obviously a great player.  Yesterday he was named First Team All Summit League after averaging 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists a game; and on top of that he shot 64 percent from the field and 54 percent on threes.

I’m sure you would expect those averages to go up against the Mavericks because of the pace both of teams want to play at, but Konchar’s stats against the Mavericks would have you think he is playing against a division 2 opponent.  In 2 seasons, Konchar has averaged 24 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and shot 78 percent from the field and 85 percent on threes.  He has not missed a 3 point shot against the Mavericks this season.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Derrin Hansen and the Mavericks are probably not extremely thrilled that Konchar’s mix tape for professional basketball teams to see will be largely in thanks to the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Another face that will stick out to the Mavericks is Brent Calhoun.  The center that used to be heavier than my car, but has turned himself into a well conditioned basketball player that can run the floor and might even be the best Summit League player that purely stays in the post.

Calhoun was in foul trouble in one game last season and really didn’t have the opportunity to accumulate any stats, so not counting that game, but in the last two seasons Calhoun has averaged 13 points and shot 75 percent from the field against Omaha.  He dominates the low block against the Mavericks on offense and defense.

He also averaged 3.7 blocks in those three meetings.

Neither of these teams love the defensive end, but the Mavericks need to slow down and contain Calhoun and Konchar.  Players like Zach Jackson and Daniel Norl might not even want to take a shot in this game, and just focus all their time and energy on just bothering John Konchar.  That’s nearly impossible, they won’t not take shots in this system but it’s a theory.

The hope is that this is like some super hero movie.  The villain wins the early battles, the hero fails early on and learns more about the villain and even more about their own life, and then they go out there for one final jousting for a winner take all battle and the hero saves the freaking day.

Omaha coaches and players have stated throughout the entire season that they were upset with themselves with the early exit in the Summit League in 2016.  They said they wanted to be playing their best basketball of the season heading into the tournament, and they are, but we have seen them go on hot and cold streaks this season.  A win in this game relies on their mental focus and toughness in dealing with Fort Wayne.

In a game where the teams are so close to each other, but also so far away, every little thing matters.  Mavericks have to stay focused in on the big things, and the little things.

 

Summit League Predictions: Frantic February 14-19

Low amount of motivation and confidence in myself after going 2-6 last week, my worst week since starting this stupid thing.

Every game is going to be important from here on out in Frantic February.

February 14th

Denver (7-5) @ Western Illinois

Happy Valentine’s Day, Denver!  Get set a fine getaway in Macomb, Illinois!

I imagine being a college kid on the road on Valentine’s Day has to be rough.  Or not, actually, no, you probably don’t care.

Anyway, Western Illinois’ offense can barely get into the 60s, and they’re going to have to up that offense to match with Denver.

February 15th

North Dakota State (9-3) @ Fort Wayne (6-6)

So their match up in Fargo was a very fun game, and there were some weird moments, especially with a fire alarm in the arena going off.  The Bison won that game by 2, and these teams split the season series last year with the home team winning each game.

North Dakota State had a great week last week with a 17 point win over South Dakota State and an 18 point win over Denver, the more efficient version of Fort Wayne.  So you could be getting a rolling offense up against a struggling defense.

Fort Wayne is going to need to defend AJ Jacobson, Paul Miller, and keep Dexter Werner out of the paint.

This game could come down to who has less fouls and can actually keep their players out on the court, but North Dakota State might have the edge.

IUPUI (5-7) @ South Dakota State (5-8)

The outcome of this game, either way, helps and hurts the Mavericks.

How did IUPUI beat North Dakota State and Omaha, and then lose to Oral Roberts?

I’m just done with IUPUI.  Done!

February 16th

Oral Roberts (4-9) @ Omaha (6-7)

Essentially, this game could end up ruining the loser.  If Oral Roberts loses, they almost have no chance at making the Summit League tournament.  If Omaha loses, they’re going to have to play at Denver and then face North Dakota State at home.

Omaha’s loss in Oral Roberts stings them, the same way their loss at Western Illinois did last season.  They lost in Tulsa by 17, but were thrown off drastically in the first half with foul trouble to Marcus Tyus, and then when trying to make a comeback, Tre’Shawn Thurman picked up a technical foul at the worst possible time to give Oral Roberts the momentum to finish out the game.

Both teams are going to come out with some fire, but Omaha should hopefully have some more.

February 18th

Oral Roberts (4-9) @ South Dakota (9-4) on ESPN3

The Golden Eagles were able to beat South Dakota in Tulsa, but the Coyotes were playing without Tyler Flack and the Coyotes had no answer for AJ Owens.

Flack, while not the biggest post player in the league, is actually a quality defender that can keep other post players out of the post.

Western Illinois (5-7) @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

The Bison beat Western Illinois by 32 in Macomb.  Okay, that’s all.

South Dakota State (5-8) @ Fort Wayne (6-6) 

The Jackrabbits needed 42 points and 10 rebounds from Mike Daum to beat Fort Wayne in Brookings.  Daum will more than likely go off again considering how bad Fort Wayne’s defense is, and the fact that Brent Calhoun and Xzavier Taylor are not forwards designed to defend the Daum.

Fort Wayne went 7-of-21 on threes in Brookings, and they are a better three point shooting team at home.  They can hit the threes at home and put a deep scare of Jackrabbit fans of making the Summit League tournament.

February 19th

IUPUI (5-7) @ Denver (7-5)

Basketball on a Sunday!

The Jaguars have two tough offenses to defend on the road this week.

The only Summit League team to beat the Pioneers in Denver is South Dakota.

Summit League predictions: Feb 8-11

4-4 again last week.  This is actually a lot harder than it looks with everyone in the conference being so close.  The Tuesday to Thursday games always kill me.

February 7th

South Dakota (7-4) @ Fort Wayne (5-5)

The Coyotes defense held the high scoring Fort Wayne offense to 63 points last month, and most notably held John Konchar to 4-0f-12 shooting.  The game was a offensive struggle for both teams, and Tyler Flack was not playing in that game for South Dakota.  Can the ‘Dons have such an offensive struggle at home on a Wednesday night?

IUPUI (4-6) @ Omaha (6-5)

First off, if South Dakota loses and Omaha wins on Wednesday, they will be in a tie for third place.

Second off, IUPUI is so hit or miss this season, it’s hard to get a feel for them.  The Jaguars are also 0-3 in Wednesday/Thursday conference road games.

Third, the Mavericks had 10 blocks against the Jaguars in Indianapolis?

Fourth, there are going to be like 40 turnovers in this game, right?

Fifth, if you love half court offense, you should probably find a seventh grade YMCA game to attend tonight instead of this.

Western Illinois (4-7) @ Oral Roberts (3-8) on ESPN3

This loser of this game may very well be the team that does not make it into the Summit League tournament, so this game could sadly have a decent amount of intensity.  Intense like Luke Wilson and Will Ferrell chasing Jeremy Piven at the end of “Old School” intense but not that intense.

Western Illinois didn’t have a great rebounding advantage in Macomb, and each team had the same amount of turnovers, and made the exact same number of free throws, but Western Illinois made 7 more threes than Oral Roberts. That game was the 5th game in a row that Western Illinois had made at least 10 three point field goals, and since then they haven’t made more than 8 since or shot better than 35 percent on threes.  The difference in the game might not be the threes this time.

South Dakota State (5-6) @ North Dakota State (7-3) on ESPN3

It’s always fun when these two square off.  South Dakota State is on a three game winning streak with the last two wins against the two teams playing for last place.  North Dakota State has lost two in a row against South Dakota and IUPUI.

The Jackrabbits are not nearly as good on defense as the Coyotes or the Jaguars, and they don’t really match up that well against AJ Jacobson and Paul Miller.  If the Jackrabbits can play defense against Paul Miller, usually the Bison as a team do not play well.  Reed Tellinghuisen is just kind of a bad defender…

I also don’think it’s possible for North Dakota State to lose twice in a row at home.  I’m pretty sure the state has laws against this, so this is a safety thing for the Jackrabbits.

February 11th

South Dakota State (5-6) @ South Dakota (7-4) on ESPN3

What a tough week for the Jackrabbits.  Going from the bottom two teams in the Summit League at home to the top two teams in the Summit League on the road has to be a weird feeling.

The Coyotes are out for revenge after losing by 1 in Brookings on New Year’s Eve.

Seriously, are we not worried about the Jackrabbits’ safety this week?

Denver (7-4) @ North Dakota State (7-3) on ESPN3

Boring But Good meets Odd and Somehow Good.  You would think we should apply revenge factor to the Bison, and they probably will be out for revenge, but they were embarrassed in Denver.  That game probably led to the Pioneers to roll around the rest of the Summit League with a load of confidence.

Also, Denver is coming to Fargo with a week of rest.

Oral Roberts (3-6) @ IUPUI (4-6) on ESPN3

Prove that you can win on the road Oral Roberts.  I dare you.

Omaha (6-5) @ Fort Wayne (5-5) on, oh wait, it’s not on anything.

And I’ve just reached full on homer status.

I just want to start off saying that I’ve come to actually appreciate Fort Wayne fans.  They have a heart beat in them, and they engage in fun banter online against other Summit League fan bases.  They typically always back up their talk with an actual frame of reference.  If you point out something that their team is bad at, they see your point-of-view and can agree with your claim if factual. They don’t take you saying that they’re team is bad at defense, for example, as a personal attack and wish death upon your entire family like another fan base we know.

Now, the second half of conference play is a lot about revenge factor, intangibles, depth, and how you’re getting shafted on your schedule.  Sure, Fort Wayne is a better rebounding team.  Yes, John Konchar is unstoppable against the Mavericks.  Of course, Omaha has only beat Fort Wayne twice since transitioning to division 1.

Every game between these two teams has come down to the wire.  Omaha has been rebounding and playing better defensively ever since it was made obvious that they were a terrible rebounding team at home against South Dakota State.  Well that’s only two games, but you get it.  Daniel Meyer has played in the last two games like he has something to prove on the boards, so perhaps the Mavericks can actually defend Brent Calhoun for once.

John Konchar may be unstoppable against the Mavericks, but Derrin Hansen has been playing Daniel Norl off the bench more lately.  If you remember in the home game against the ‘Dons, and I’m going to throw out a guess that you don’t, Norl was the only Maverick that could stay in front of Konchar and keep the ball out of his hands.  Expect Norl to get more minutes against Konchar on Saturday.  I’m not claiming Norl is going to stop Konchar, the freaking guy shoots 64 percent from the field, but Norl defending Konchar for a few more possessions in Omaha could have made the difference.

Oddly, as much as the Mavs haven’t been able to stop Konchar and Calhoun, they have kept Mo Evans down in their meetings.  Evans has shot 37 percent in his career against Omaha, and he has shot 46 percent from the field during his career.

So if you’re wondering if the Mavericks are thinking revenge factor, and that they love playing on the road in big environments (in their minds) and haven’t been thinking about winning in the same building that Indiana lost in for a few months now…we’re wondering the same thing.

Summit League predictions: Jan 25-28

4-4 each of the last two weeks.  The Summit League isn’t easy this year with the teams being so close.

January 25

IUPUI (3-4) @ Fort Wayne (3-4)

The Jaguars won both games over Fort Wayne last season by a total of 5 points.  The Mastodons are looking to turn their luck around after three straight losses in the last couple of weeks.  Whoever wins this game gets to go to 4-4 and the other will be 3-5.

I don’t feel good about this and do not have a huge amount of confidence for Fort Wayne in this game, but here I am thinking home teams have a heavier advantage on weeknights…which hasn’t been totally consistent this season.

Reasons to like Fort Wayne:

  • They’re the home team.
  • They probably want it more after getting swept last season?
  • John Konchar, Mo Evans, and Bryson Scott are all really freaking good.

Reasons to not like Fort Wayne

  • IUPUI has one of the best defensive three point field goal percentages in the league, and have allowed the least amount of three point field goals in conference play.
  • Fort Wayne really doesn’t do a great job at getting to the free throw line, and they really need to force the Jaguars into foul trouble.
  • The Jaguars’ post players Matt O’Leary, Aaron Brennan, and Evan Hall all have decent mid to long rang games on offense, and Fort Wayne’s Brent Calhoun and Xzavier Taylor are not the greatest at getting out and defending.
  • I love John Konchar, but I am not a fan of his current hair choice.  Who at Fort Wayne do we demand release of the stat splits based on the design of his hair?

I just want it known that out of all the Wednesday night games this week, I feel the least amount of confidence in this one.

Western Illinois (3-4) @ South Dakota (4-3)

The weakest offensive team in the Summit League playing at the strongest defensive team in the Summit League.  Should be fun.

Oral Roberts (3-4) @ North Dakota State (6-1) on ESPN3

The Bison are 3-0 at home and the Golden Eagles are 0-3 on the road.

I had been entering this yesterday, so now We know I can see the future, sort of:

Off topic:  North Dakota is the only team to beat the Bison in Fargo this season.  The Fighting…something are also second in the Big Sky so far.  It is possible they could win the Big Sky and the Bison could win the Summit.  Let’s open the floor for debate that if both make the NCAA Tournament, then the Summit should invite North Dakota to the league so we never have to face this possible catastrophe ever again.

South Dakota State (2-5) @ Denver (4-3)

Hold on, I’m sick to my stomach.  Who would have thought, before the season, that Mike Daum versus Daniel Amigo would have been one of the most anticipated match ups between centers?  Even their back ups Ian Theisen versus Christian Mackey seems a bit fun.

It’s actually an interesting match up overall.  Two teams with 1st year head coaches, both trying out new offenses, both not the most consistent teams on defense, and both have a couple of the best sophomores in the league.  Both teams probably thinking next year with be their year.

In such an evenly matched game, how can you not want to favor the home team with an altitude advantage and just a wee bit more depth?

January 28

Fort Wayne (3-4) @ Oral Roberts (3-4) on ESPN3

While Fort Wayne has been under performing on the road, their post players Brent Calhoun and Xzavier Taylor match up well to defend the Golden Eagles’ best player Albert Owens.

Oral Roberts has one of the worst perimeter defenses in the conference, which is music to the ears of the three point shooters of Fort Wayne.

Denver (4-3) @ South Dakota (4-3) on ESPN3

This might be the saddest Game of the Week the Summit League has had this year.

With Tyler Flack out, the Coyotes really do not have anyone to defend Daniel Amigo.  The Coyotes will be able to defend and disrupt the offense of Denver, but Amigo will still get touches on offense and shouldn’t be exerting too much of his energy on the defensive end.  Joe Rosga and Thomas Neff probably love the idea that South Dakota keeps teams out behind the three point line, since they both shoot higher than 43 percent in that area.

IUPUI (3-4) @ Western Illinois (3-4) on ESPN3

The Jaguars swept Western Illinois in two low scoring games last season.  Even though the Leathernecks have been playing poorly lately, the Jaguars no longer have the Garret Covington stopper we knew as Marcellus Barksdale.

In no way do I actually have confidence that Western Illinois will actually win this game, but they’re Western Illinois and they do weird things and have weird out of body experiences sometimes.  Saturday can be one of those days if Covington doesn’t have anyone to really bother him all day.

South Dakota State (2-5) @ Omaha (4-4) on ESPN3

The Mavericks will have an entire week of rest coming into this game, and South Dakota State will be on their second road game of the week after playing in Denver.

After that, you’re probably wondering why the Jackrabbits are in bold.  Omaha has a history of starting off games very slowly after having some rest.  After eight days of rest in December, they found themselves down 23-45 in Vermillion.  With more than a week of rest last year heading into the Summit League tournament, the Mavericks found themselves down by 15 at halftime against Denver.  On a week’s rest last season, they found themselves down by 13 at halftime in Fort Wayne, but were eventually able to force the game to overtime.

The Mavericks cannot have a slow start against the Jackrabbits.  They need to start off hot like they did in Brookings.  They cannot find themselves playing from behind to the Jackrabbits, who always have a good amount of fans at games in Omaha.

After being up big in Brookings, the Jackrabbits found daylight and almost came back to win that game.

Reed Tellinghuisen, who has been struggling this season, has shot 14-of-19 in his two career games in Omaha.  The Jackrabbits haven’t been that far off from any win this season, and if Tellinghuisen can get going and make the difference then the Jackrabbits could be going back to Brookings feeling like they may not be the team left out of the Summit League tournament.

Well, I want to cry.

 

 

Summit League predictions: Jan 11-14

I was 6-2 last week, and 5-3 the week before.  That’s 11-5.  I’m good enough for a 3 seed in the conference tournament.

January 11th

Omaha (1-3) @ IUPUI (1-3) on ESPN3

The Jaguars are 5-0 at home so far this season, and last time at home they defeated Western Illinois by 18.  Last year in Indianapolis, the Mavericks couldn’t do anything to stop the Jaguars offense, and let them shoot 56 percent in that loss.  Expect the same this time, as the Mavericks have been bad on defense lately and IUPUI has shot at least in the high 40s in every home game.

Derrin Hansen made a point that a key to the game is that the Mavericks can rebound and not give IUPUI second chance opportunities.  In the last 3 games, the Jaguars averaged a +6.7 rebound margin.  The Mavericks in the last 4 games, averaged a -4 rebound margin.

North Dakota State (3-0) @ South Dakota (3-1) on ESPN3

This game is going to be all defense.  While it is early in the conference season, these two teams have the best defensive field goal percentage in conference games.  They also average the least amount of turnovers overall on the year among Summit League teams.

The Coyotes will be without one of their best post players, Tyler Flack, until February, but Norfolk native Tyler Hagedorn helped fill the void on Saturday with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks in a win over IUPUI.

The Coyotes will be able to defend the Bison guards and cause frustrations in the Bison offense enough to guide South Dakota to another home win.  The Coyotes are 8-0 at home this season.

The Bison lost by 14 in Vermillion last season, and that wasn’t your older cousin’s South Dakota team.  The Bison were also playing without their leading scorer at the time, Paul Miller.

Western Illinois (3-1) @ Denver (1-2)

Western Illinois was able to win in Denver last season, who was playing without Joe Rosga at the time and CJ Bobbitt was limited to just 8 minutes in that game.  Expect Denver to be out for some revenge, and not to take Western Illinois lightly.

January 12th 

South Dakota State (1-3) @ Oral Roberts (0-3) on ESPN3

Oral Roberts just almost prevented the Jackrabbits from making the NCAA Tournament last season, just almost.  South Dakota State was able to escape the upset with every Jackrabbit playing poorly, except for Mike Daum.  Daum averaged 20.3 points and 7 rebounds against the Golden Eagles and can still have a huge game in Tulsa again this season.

The Jackrabbits mixed things up with their lineups and were able to get things going toward the end of the game against Omaha.  Oral Roberts has actually not been that bad for a 4-13 team.  They won each of their last two non-conference games, only lost to Creighton by 1, and had a rough start to conference play with three straight road games.  That home court is going to feel nice to Oral Roberts.

I went back and forth on who should win this game.  This game should be close throughout the entire duration of the game, with the winner escaping by winning on free throws toward the end of the game.  Both teams shoot above 70 percent at the free throw line.

January 14

Fort Wayne (3-1) @ South Dakota (3-1)

It’s almost a crime that this game wont have an ESPN3 broadcast.

Fort Wayne, one of the better three point shooting teams in the nation is going to go up against a team that allows teams to shoot more than 20 threes per game.  South Dakota is good at actually getting a hand in the face of shooters, but Fort Wayne can really move the ball around for the open shot.

Coming off of a defensive battle against North Dakota State, and having one of the best players out, South Dakota may not be able to last against Fort Wayne who will have an entire week of rest.  Fort Wayne leads the nation in three point field goal percentage, but South Dakota has the third best defensive three point field goal percentage in the conference.  The Coyotes have had the best defensive three point field goal percentage over the last 4 games.

With Tyler Flack out, the Mastodons should have a decent enough advantage in the post with Brent Calhoun, Xzavier Taylor, and John Konchar to take control of the game.  As good of a three point shooting team as the ‘Dons are, they aren’t too shabby at getting the ball down low.  The ‘Dons are also 16th in D1 in 2 point field goal percentage.

IUPUI (1-3) @ Oral Roberts (0-2) on ESPN3

IUPUI has a good enough defense to keep the inconsistent players of Oral Roberts off their game.

Alberts Owens is not quick enough to defend Matt O’Leary who is capable of scoring anywhere on the court, and none of the guards for Oral Roberts are great enough defensive players to slow down Darell Combs who is averaging 22.7 points per game so far in conference play so far.

As good as playing at home again might be for Oral Roberts, they don’t have the depth to win 2 games in three days.

North Dakota State (3-0) @ Denver (1-2)

Denver on the road is a bad match up for the Bison, but this is not the same type of game that it was a year ago when both team’s offenses worked down the shot clock on every possession to get the best shot.

Western Illinois (3-1) @ Omaha (1-3)

It’s a good thing the Leathernecks are one of the worst teams in the conference at taking the ball away and creating possessions for themselves, since the Mavericks have averaged 15 turnovers (ouch) to 11 assists (ouch) a game since entering Summit League play.

Still, the Leathernecks have started out conference play hot, and the Mavericks have not.  Derrin Hansen did mention that the Mavericks have been practicing better lately, and offensively they did look pretty good in the last two games.  The hope is that the Mavericks are still bitter about their loss to the Leathernecks last season, which helped prevent them from getting a top two spot in the conference tournament, so hopefully they can come out playing at a high level and build up a lead.

Travel this week could be an issue for the Leathernecks who will be coming to Omaha after a road game at Denver.

It’s always the random guys that show up for Western Illinois to beat the Mavericks.

Last year, Mike Miklusak was averaged 5 points and 3 rebounds a game, but beat up the Mavericks 14 points and 11 rebounds in the Mavericks’ loss in Macomb.

Tate Stensgaard was basically playing with no one defending him when he scored 26 on 13-of-15 shooting and had 7 rebounds in Baxter Arena.  He ended up averaging 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds.  Stensgaard The Mavericks had to come back from a 16 point lead to win that game.

In a loss to the Leathernecks 2 years ago, Jabari Sanidfer averaged 7.4 points on the season, but had 20 against the Mavericks.  Jamie Batish had 15 off the bench for the Leathernecks and averaged 6.4 points that year.

  • Also, a random note about Western Illinois.  Since losing Jabari Sandifer to a season ending injury, who is one of the most inconsistent players the Summit League has ever seen (or at least since Mav fans have paid attention), the Leathernecks have gone 3-1 and are 4-1 overall without him this season.

What I’m saying here is while the Mavericks are planning for Garret Covington, who is averaging 21.3 points, and Mike Miklusak, who is averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds a game this season, they should really be worried most about this De’Angelo Bruster kid who averages 6 points a game.  He might have 30 points in Baxter Arena.

Thanks for reading.  I know low major weekly basketball predictions might not be super entertaining, but this time of year after college football has ended, it’s this or you have the Mel Kiper Season of just analyzing the 2025 NFL Draft.

 

Summit League predictions: Feb 17-21

5-3 last week, but I love it when Omaha proves me wrong.  I don’t like it when Western Illinois proves me wrong.  This is a big week for seeding in the conference tournament.  IPFW meets South Dakota State and Omaha, who are all in a fight for 1st (and 2nd) place.  Denver has match ups against Oral Roberts and South Dakota, who are all in a fight for 6th, 7th, and 8th.  North Dakota State and IUPUI will also meet on Saturday, which should be a preview of the 4 versus 5 match up in the conference tournament.

So with all of the intensity in these last 2 weeks, I have absolute confidence of picking at 1-7 this week.

February 17th

Omaha (9-4) @ IUPUI (7-5) on ESPN3

Something that scares me is that road teams in the Summit League games are now 0-6 on Wednesday nights in conference play…this includes the Mavericks losing at Western Illinois on a Wednesday.  The Jaguars are also 4-1 in conference play at home.  I think I said that they were undefeated at home in conference play on Monday…my bad.  It’s actually kind of amazing that IUPUI is better at home, it’s not like they have a huge home court advantage with a hopping crowd when averaging an attendance of about 1,000 people.

The Mavs won the earlier match up in Omaha, but it was not exactly a dominating performance.  IUPUI’s size is scary for UNO that they should be able to out rebound and crash the offensive boards and not let UNO run out in transition and get a number of easy baskets.  I say that somewhat blindly as IUPUI is 7th in the Summit in rebounds per game, but the Jaguars did have 15 offensive rebounds in Omaha.

The Mavs have to really watch out for Matt O’Leary.  He’s second on the roster for IUPUI in scoring and tied to lead the team in assists.  He plays efficiently, and at 6’8″, he might be the best big man in the Summit League at putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket.  He can also step out and hit the three.  Matt Osborne’s game seems a little similar to Mike Rostampour as well, and the Jaguars have him coming off the bench; Mavs may have trouble crashing the boards with both Osborne and O’Leary on the court at the same time so Daniel Meyer and Randy Reed need to play smart in this game.

There is a part of me that is just going with the Jags in hopes to reverse jinx the Mavericks into a win.  I’m not sure if that is how jinxes work, but damn it, the science is not all there on jinxes.

I’m not sure if IUPUI’s Evan Hall will play or not.  He’s a 6’7″ freshman that averages 5 points and 4 rebounds, and he has missed the last 6 games.  I heard he was out with concussion symptoms, but that was from ESPN3 commentators who routinely get stuff wrong.  Anyway, the Jaguars are 3-3 in the last 6 games without him, and their three wins were by a total of 5 points.  They also lost earlier in the season to Missouri and Creighton when he missed two games.

Western Illinois (2-10) @ North Dakota State (6-6)

North Dakota State won by 13 in Macomb, and Western Illinois is not greatly equipped to stop the weave offense of North Dakota State; but this game could be closer than the 13 that the Leathernecks lost by earlier in the year.  The Leathernecks should actually have a shot in this game if NDSU’s leading scorer, Paul Miller, misses his fourth straight game.  Another sort of scary thing for the Bison is that they are in Oh Crap, Let’s Just Make it to March Without Anymore Injuries mode and Western Illinois is in Playoff Mode.  Western Illinois could be playing for a lot more right now.

Oh yeah, Summit League road teams are 0-6 on Wednesday nights in conference. This is the last Wednesday night in the Summit League.

This Bison are pretty much a lock to finish in 4th or 5th and facing up against IUPUI in the first round of the conference tournament, which is a really even match up.

York @ South Dakota (4-9)

Wait… York?

Feburary 18th

South Dakota State (9-3) @ IPFW (9-3)

This could be really big.  The Mastodons really have no one to stop Mike Daum.  Brent Calhoun is not fast enough to guard him.  John Konchar is too small to guard him.  Joe Reed is also someone who is too slow to stop him, but probably has the best shot out of all the ‘Dons to do it.  Daum could really big the big difference in this game.  You could tell Omaha was deeply concerned with not letting Daum get the ball in the 2nd half last week.  The ‘Dons are going to need another 30+ point performance from Max Landis to come out on top  in this game, but does he have enough steam left in him after all the minutes he has played?

Landis has averaged 39 minutes a game in the last 10 games; and while he has had a few awesome performances in that stretch, he has had some duds in those 10 games.  He did come out as the player of the week the last time IPFW faced South Dakota State and Omaha in the same week; but this reminds me of when Greg McDermott played the crap out of Antoine Young in his junior year because they had no back up point guard, and Young could barely finish the season.

February 19th

Denver (5-8) @ Oral Roberts (5-8) on ESPN3

Did you know Denver made 20 threes in a loss against IPFW on Saturday?  They are not likely to repeat that sort of production, but Oral Roberts is not a great defensive team to play up against Denver’s constantly moving offense.  Oral Roberts is a team that can really take advantage of all of Denver’s turnovers…and by Oral Roberts, I mean Obi Emegano.  Denver leads the league with the most turnovers, which is actually kind of sad given how they have the fewest possessions in the conference.

Denver won the first meeting between these two teams by one point in Denver, but Obi Emegano was not playing in the game.

February 20th

South Dakota State (9-3) @ Western Illinois (2-10) on ESPN3

Oh, Western Illinois is the team to have North Dakota State and South Dakota State in the same week.

Amazingly, South Dakota State only won by 2 points in Macomb last season; and SDSU is not as good of a road team this season…Western Illinois has something to ride into this game.  Western Illinois also only lost by 4 to South Dakota State in Brookings at the beginning of the conference season.  Wait, this doesn’t sound like the mismatch that it should be.

The Jackrabbits have won 11 straight meetings against the Leathernecks.  Oh, there it is.  South Dakota State could be in a tough game on Thursday night with IPFW, so maybe they might not have enough left in them to go up against Western Illinois this week.  I thought the same thing when North Dakota State were traveling to IPFW and Western Illinois in the same week, so I don’t want to get burned on Western Illinois again…this is what it landing on red 12 times in a row in roulette does to a man.

IUPUI (7-5) @ North Dakota State (6-6) on ESPN3

The last meeting between these two teams was fun to watch.  IUPUI has really struggled to score on the road since then.  The Jaguars could really have the edge again if Paul Miller misses this game again.

Omaha (9-4) @ IPFW (9-3)

If it was not for a huge mistake on offense at the end of regulation in Omaha, the Mavericks would have had the comeback win against the Mastodons.  The dream is that IPFW will get into a long drawn out exhausting game with South Dakota State on Thursday and really tire out the legs of Max Landis, and then have to face the Mavericks who will have an extra day of rest.

Landis was almost impossible to stop in Omaha, going for 37 points.  Someone like Devin Patterson has responded well to defending someone after they’ve had a huge game like that against the Mavericks.  The Mavericks also appear to play better under pressure…I feel like all the double digit comebacks should be enough to explain that.

Anyway, IPFW has one of their biggest weeks of the season.  They could take control of 1st place in the conference, or they could lock them selves into 3rd, or they could keep it at a three way tie at the top of the Summit League.  Man, I dislike IPFW.  Jon Coffman really loves this basketball program, and seems like a guy to not let his team drop 2 games at home in the same week.  He reminds of me of the guy that parks his 88 Toyota Celica in the back of the mall parking lot so no one door dings it, even though the bumper is covered in rust.

Denver (5-8) @ South Dakota (4-8)

South Dakota’s back court is not deep enough or quick enough to match up against all the guards of Denver.  Denver embarrassed South Dakota a few weeks ago in Denver, and the Pioneers have shown that they can play in Vermillion by beating the Coyotes by 18 last season there.

 

Summit League Predictions: Jan 20-23

I went 4-3 last week…technically 5-2…I did say South Dakota State would win on the status of Jake Bittle playing…he did not play…neither did Mo Evans for IPFW…I would have picked South Dakota State had I known Mo Evans was not going to play…hell we’ll call it like I did originally…I lost that game…now you can proceed onto breaking my thumbs.

January 20

Western Illinois @ South Dakota

Western Illinois has not won a conference road game since January 2014 when they beat IUPUI.  IUPUI was 6-26 overall that season.  Does Western Illinois really look like they have a squad that can end this conference road losing streak in Vermillon?  Actually, maybe…they lost on the road to Omaha by 2 and to South Dakota State by 4.  Simple math would tell you that Western Illinois will lose this game by 6 or 8, but math is hard…

Maybe this is a battle for the 8th seed in the Summit League tournament?  Western Illinois was in a Battle For 8th game last week and was down 18 at half time to Denver in Macomb.  But hey, Western Illinois is 1-0 when they don’t have any votes in the Mid Major Top 25 poll.

January 21

North Dakota State @ IPFW

Something that slipped by everyone is that junior point guard Carlin Dupree left the Bison last week after a dispute in playing time.  Dupree was averaging 4 minutes less per game in his junior season than he was last year in his sophomore season and was moved to come off the bench recently.  David Richman said that Dupree was totally fine with this, but clearly Dupree pulled a fast one on Richman.  The Bison are 2-0 without Dupree with wins over both South Dakota schools.  He was a quality defender, but was not known for his shooting ability, shooting less than 40% from the field over the last year and a half and around 20% on threes.  The Bison will now be counting on true freshman Khy Kabellis to run the team.  Losing Dupree really cuts down on NDSU’s depth and Kabellis will have to play over 30 minutes per game due to this.  Kabellis has shot 28% from the field in games out of the great state of North Dakota…it’s fine, I forgot my lunch and just wanted to lose my appetite by saying “great state of North Dakota.”

South Dakota State @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

Weird stat:  The only games that Oral Roberts has ever lost at home with Obi Emegano in the line up were to both South Dakota schools.

Other than Obi Emegano, the Golden Eagles appear to be outmatched at every single position.  Emegano is going to need a monster performance for Oral Roberts to have a shot at beating the Jackrabbits…but maybe we see a case where Jake Bittle finally gets back into the line up and he has a bad flow getting back into things and it leads to a number of other problems.  We’ll see.

The Jackrabbits are 0-2 on the road so far in the Summit League, and Scott Nagy has called out his team for not having any toughness on the road.  They know they are going to a tough place to play, and they have something to prove to themselves in this game.

Omaha @ Denver

A contrast in styles: Omaha wants to run the ball and take quick shots and Denver wants to move as slow as the DMV to work for the absolute best shot possible.  Which I am convinced that the DMV is doing the same thing: just sitting back there googling the best ways possible to ruin your day.  Omaha was 0-5 since transitioning to division one playing in the Mountain Time Zone against a D-1 team…this season they are 2-2 (or 3-2 if you count Phoenix in the Mountain Time zone), so the Mavs may not have the issues of adapting to the altitude as they have already played in it a few times this season.

Denver may have a problem making as many passes as they are used to against an Omaha team that loves to play the passing lanes, and Tra-Deon Hollins having jedi mind tricks to get teams to pass in his general direction for him to take the ball.

Two road teams pick up wins on a Thursday?  I think last year, the road team only won about 33% of the conference games played Monday to Thursday.  I could be making that up, but I know it was not a great percentage and North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and Oral Roberts had most of the weeknight road wins.

January 23

North Dakota State @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Okay.  Alright.  Um.  What?  All common sense says to take North Dakota State in this game.  They have been one of the two best teams in the Summit for the past 3 seasons and Western Illinois has been one of the two worst teams in the Summit the last 3 seasons.  Don’t look at any stats or anything here, just look at the narrative.  I feel that last sentence made me sound like your Tea Party uncle that keeps telling you to read between the lines when analyzing the Obama administration.

North Dakota State plays on the road this week against IPFW and Western Illinois, currently the best team and the worst team in the Summit.  North Dakota State versus IPFW is going to be a greatly contested game, and the Bison may not have enough pieces on their roster to play a competitive fast paced IPFW team on the road AND a Western Illinois team in Macomb.   North Dakota State also only beat Western Illinois by 2 last year in Macomb.

I’m sure that North Dakota State will win by 35 now that I have thrown this out there.

South Dakota State @ South Dakota on ESPN3

Normally I would like to take the home team in a instate rivalry like this, but I think I would just be saying that to trick Creighton into scheduling UNO.  South Dakota is a tough team to figure out.  They lose at home, they play tough on the road, and they are a group of people that decided to at least temporarily reside in Vermillion, South Dakota.  Every time I say a game is a great match up for Tre Burnette, he ends up having a bad game.  He will have to go against either 6’9″ Ian Theisen, 6’9″ Mike Daum, or 6’6″ Reed Tellinghuisen (who has been struggling lately).  Perhaps if Burnette is not doing well the Coyotes can go with their 2 big true freshman against Daum and Theisen… who have gone missing in league play.

Did you know that South Dakota picks up the most fouls in the Summit League?  So they are going to send the Jackrabbits to the line, who shoot 72% on free throws.  South Dakota is also 2nd to last in the Summit in rebounds, in front of Denver, but Denver is an outlier in all statistical categories; so it’s just best to not count Denver most of the time.  Consider Denver to be the middle child of the league.

IUPUI @ IPFW

The Acronym Bowl!  The road team won each game in this series last season.  I should like IUPUI’s chances with no other game this week, and IPFW has North Dakota State at home on Thursday.  After watching Max Landis hit every possible shot with a hand in his face in Omaha, IUPUI’s scrappy defense does not appear to become a factor in this game.  Seriously, my basketball passport profile ranked Landis’ performance against UNO on Saturday as the best college basketball performance that I have witnessed in person.  Konchar’s performance that game ranked number 2, and Hollins’ ranked number 3… it’s also not like I’ve only ever gone to 3 college basketball games in my life.  Okay, I admit, Landis and Konchar have rattled my brain.  Brent Calhoun scoring 6 points in overtime with left handed hook shots over a surprised Jake White has also been making my stomach hurt.  Calhoun hadn’t had a game of scoring in double figures all season and he already has 3 double digit scoring performances in Summit League play.  How did Jon Coffman trick us like this?  He’s using cheat codes or a game genie, I swear.

Omaha @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

At first, I thought Oral Roberts is too good at home.  Then I remember hearing Tra-Deon Hollins say that one of his favorite things to do is to go on the road and give the home team a scare and take away a game, and Omaha’s performances on the road should support this.  Oral Roberts also averages more turnovers than any other team in conference play so far…which is great because Omaha forces more turnovers than any other team.

These two teams also get to the line more than any other team in the league.  This could be a problem for Omaha as Oral Roberts appears to be a (slightly) deeper team in terms of having more capable dudes to go if fouls become an issue.  Also Jalen Bradley’s cross over to his left into a baseline mid-range jumper should give you a mini stroke.

I won’t be able to watch this game live, unless the random bar I saddle up at has a way to stream ESPN3.  Sunday is my birthday, and my wife forces me to celebrate my birthday…so I’m going to have to watch the replay on my actual birthday.  By the way, UNO beat Denver last season on my birthday.

This is the toughest stretch of Omaha’s conference schedule of @ Denver, @ Oral Roberts, @ South Dakota State.  They need to win at least one of these games…or all of them…that sounds better.