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.

 

 

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I cant put together my thoughts when talking about Western Illinois

The Leathernecks beat Wisconsin to open up the season, and I am pretty sure it is the most forgettable big time win by a Summit League team of all time.  It is almost immediately discredited with: well, Wisconsin wasn’t together at that point…or something along those lines.  There were people that believed in Western Illinois after that, and hopefully those people that did use that belief to discuss how good the Summit League was as a whole for the season.  They probably more so had an attitude of: Well Western Illinois sucks, so who cares.

Western Illinois finished the season as 9th in the Summit League, which meant they had to sit out the Summit League tournament.  At least they got to really bulk up Creighton’s non-conference schedule.  It was not pretty after the Wisconsin win for the Leathernecks.  The team picked up some lopsided wins against the likes of some division 2 schools in addition to Illinois-Chicago and Eastern Illinois before going on an 11 game losing streak.  Then they hurt my brain when they broke their losing streak at home against the Mavericks.  The Leathernecks did expose a large weakness of that Mavs that Omaha was not a great defensive team in the post.  Once a team can get the ball past the quick hands of Tra-Deon Hollins and Devin Patterson, Omaha may not have the bodies to deal with guys down low.  Denver saw this and they just kept throwing the ball into Christian Mackey and CJ Bobbitt to just ruin the Mavericks.  Ehhh.

Much of the season for the Leathernecks was about as hard to watch as when your brother brings home some train wreck of a girl to meet your parents; and you hold a large amount of embarrassment that you know your brother.

The Leathernecks are going to be losing JC Fuller’s 12.7 points per game, which is probably a good thing as he thought he could have the green light to shoot like Steph Curry, but Curry actually makes the crazy shots he takes.  Western Illinois only played Fuller for 8 minutes when they beat the Mavericks and instead gave most of the back court minutes to freshman De’Angelo Bruster, who might be the new fastest player in the Summit League.  His speed created so many opportunities for other players in that game against the Mavericks, he may have actually won that game for the Leathernecks even though he scored 0 points.  Bruster only scored 2 points per game, but the Leathernecks were 2-0 in games he played more than 20 minutes, so hell, they might as well at least make an attempt to give him more minutes in 2017…but Billy Wright seems like the least creative coach in the League; so who knows.

Garret Covington will be the Summit League’s top returning scorer, and that is fun, I guess.  Covington has been known as being one of the league’s most threatening scorers over during the first three years of collegiate careers, but watch a Western Illinois game.  No one else knows how to get open, the coaching staff doesn’t have a great list of plays to really get players open, and Covington never really scores when the game is on the line and he can push the Leathernecks over their opponent.  Granted, they don’t have too many moments when the game is close for Covington can do that, but the point still remains…probably, I think, I may have gone in and out of points there.

The idea here is, who else on the team can actually score consistently?  Jabari Sandifer would go 8-of-12 from the floor one game and then go 2-of-13 the next game, and most of shots were Aw Crap, When Did the Shot Clock Change to 30 Seconds shots.  We like to ask these hypothetical questions of: Would Tre’Shawn Thurman put up the same numbers at a Creighton or a Nebraska?  The simple answer is no because he would be on a different team with a different depth and a different offense than what he is currently on, but it does not mean he is a worse player.

Anyway, if you took Garret Covington and threw him on any other team in the Summit League would he still be known as one of the most prolific scorers in the league?  Covington took 13 shots a game in 2016 and attempted almost 7 free throws a game to guide him to 18 points per game.  You put him on South Dakota State, pretend you’re trading him for Reed Tellinghuisen… Covington isn’t such a dominant of a scorer that he would have taken shot attempts from their three seniors and Mike Daum…Covington would score less than 10 points a game with the Jackrabbits.  Put him on Omaha’s roster, he’d score more than 10 points a game because of the offense, but he would have been the 3rd or 4th option on offense in most situations, and the Mavericks would have been freaking sweet…I think my general point here is that Covington should not have been a Summit League 2nd Team player.  Didn’t Lawrence Alexander finish as North Dakota State’s winningest player with over 100 wins?  It’s kind of a weird thing to say since basketball is a team sport, but Covington has only been a part of 27 wins in his three years at Western Illinois.

You know what, I hate talking about Western Illinois this long.  They at best will finish with 5 conference wins next season.  I am still salty at their men’s soccer team; they flopped so much against Omaha that I thought maybe Manu Ginobli, Vlade Divac, and Derek Fisher took up coaching college soccer.


My wife is out of town for a conference and I heavily debated of traveling (alone) to Tulsa to see the Mavericks take on Oral Roberts; or to Macomb to see UNO Softball play Western Illinois, but I unfortunately decided to be responsible and to save money.  Damn it, I brought up Western Illinois again.  UNO softball at Western Illinois is actually on the radio this weekend…sayyyyy whaaaaat?  88.3 FM is apparently a station?

I was worried about the softball team for UNO this season because of the depth of the pitching, but they are staying alive so far thanks to the bats.  Not saying the pitching has been awful between Laura Roecker and Abbie Clanton, but there are not a ton of options if the two of them are having a bad game or were to get hurt.  Nine players hitting above .250 right now…Nine!  That’s how many times Ferris Bueller unofficially missed class his senior year.  Three players are in the top 10 in the Summit League in batting average.  Oh and this team just beat Iowa State in Ames!  The Mavs are also 159 in RPI right now which is 2nd in the Summit behind North Dakota State.

With just one conference loss, the Mavs are currently 2nd in the conference standings behind 6-0 North Dakota State.  The Mavericks will end the regular season at North Dakota State and also still play 3rd place team South Dakota at home next weekend, so there is still a lot on the line for the Mavs as the two top seeds get byes in the conference tournament in Fargo.


Oh and per twitter, Caroline Hogue has left the women’s basketball team.  Someone may need to let Jon Green cry on their shoulder for a while.

 

 

The Pioneers will have to migrate on

The Denver Pioneers were a missed free throw away from playing North Dakota State in the Summit League Championship, and Joe Scott was also maybe that close to not being let go by the Pioneers.

The Joe Scott firing was a little shocking, but it kind of makes sense.  With Denver Lacrosse, Hockey, and Soccer all being very extremely competitive programs; it makes sense that the expectations for the private university would be higher on the men’s basketball team.  It’s sort of like how I had incredibly low expectations for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice because it was directed by the guy who made 300 and written by the guy that wrote all three Blade films…I guess it’s the same…  I know a few people that have migrated to Denver, and I’ve asked them if they ever go to Pioneer basketball games and usually the reason they don’t go is because the Pioneers were pretty boring to watch.

Rodney Billups, who you will always refer to as “Chauncey Billups’ brother” is offering a more up-tempo style of basketball in comparison to the Princeton offense that Joe Scott ran.  One has to wonder how long it will take for this to turn out to be successful for the Pioneers.

Billups has a great young core of players who appear like they could work out well for an up-tempo style of play.  By the way, it will be okay for Mav fans to accuse the Pioneers for being trendy in picking an up-tempo style.  It’s fine.  Freshman guard Joe Rosga finished the season averaging 12.7 points per game; freshman forward CJ Bobbitt finished with 8.4 points per game; and freshman guard Thomas Neff finished 6.0 points per game.  All three freshmen shot above 43% from the field.

The Princeton offense is all about taking the best shot available, so their players usually shoot high percentages.  The best shot isn’t always the most important thing in an up-tempo style of play, so soon the Pioneers as a whole may actually not lead the conference in field goal percentage for once.

The Pioneers are going to have a couple roster changes for Billups to move forward with this new brand of basketball.  They are losing two guys, Nate Engesser and Marcus Byrd, who averaged double digit scoring, but we’ve routinely seen this to not be a problem for Denver.  Both players were efficient scorers, and seemed to find themselves open quite a bit while playing in the Baxter Arena… I thought Byrd was one of the more underrated players in the Summit in 2016, he averaged 16.7 points over the last 8 games of the season.  He was probably the biggest reason the Pioneers did not finish 8th in the conference.

Denver will also lose their point guard, Bryant Rucker.  It is weird to call someone a point guard when they average 1.5 assists per game, but the Princeton offense is not an offense for point guards to rack up assists.  No one seems to know what is going on with the sophomore center Daniel Amigo who only played in 13 games this season for Denver, but he showed some promise in his freshman season.  It’s okay, the Pioneers have 6’6″ sophomore center Christian Mackey to haunt our dreams.  I swear that kid was allowed 15 fouls in the first round of the Summit League tournament.

The Pioneers have two high school seniors that have signed letters of intent: a 6’0″ and 145lb point guard from Arvada, Colorado…and a 6’6″ wing player from the state of Texas.  These players could change their minds and go elsewhere with Denver going a new route in coaching, but as of right now the Pioneers only have room for one more player to sign for next season.

Their roster is filled with wing players, so one would think they would love a junior college post player or point guard; or a 5th year transfer at either position.  Denver is not really known for landing transfers, but maybe the new style will call for it.

Drake’s Kale Abrahamson is leaving the Bulldogs and will be eligible immediately.  Abrahamson is originally from Des Moines, so it is not like he would be transferring back home.  He started his college career at Northwestern, so he clearly likes academics…Denver just seems like the perfect place for the 6’8″ player that could help Chauncey’s brother jump start his culture change in year one.  He shot a pretty low percentage from the field (39.1) in his one year at Drake, but Drake basketball seems like a cluster of poor choices right now.  I say this like it’s a mean thing, but I am all about the Summit League going all in on trying to steal Drake away from the Missouri Valley.  Just think about it…

It is hard for most coaches to see a high level of success in year one, especially when changing everything; but the Pioneers have the pieces to move forward.  They are most likely not going to end up winning the regular season, but by could have things figured out as a team by the time they start the conference tournament, again.  They will probably finish the regular season standings in 2016-2017 somewhere between 4th and 8th in the Summit League.  Now if only they would actually play someone in their non-conference schedule.