1. South Dakota State, 2-0
The Jackrabbits have the best player in the conference, and they’re 2-0 on the road. Depth is a slight problem as they let Omaha put a small scare into them by reducing a 29 point lead to just 13.
I legit feel bad because I thought Brandon Key was going to be a floor general to the team, and he did have some moments in the non-conference season, but he came into the game at Omaha for a minute and the Mavericks hit a couple quick shots, and he was immediately sent to the bench and not heard from again.
2. South Dakota, 2-1
A home loss to North Dakota State is probably what is keeping them from the top rating. The Coyotes did play that game without Carlton Hurst, and it clearly showed on defense with the Bison’s Cameron Hunter going off for 35 points in Vermillion.
3. North Dakota State, 1-1
Yeah, yeah, it doesn’t seem like it would make sense to rank them below a team they just beat, but the Bison almost gave that game away in the end and was letting Matt Mooney get open shots late in the game. The Bison also committed 17 turnovers in that game. And again, had Carlton Hurst played that game, the Bison would likely be 0-2 right now.
4. Oral Roberts, 3-0
It may seem unfair to have the 3-0 Golden Eagles in 4th, but is it really? They’ve played all three games at home and faced a depleted Omaha, an unproven Western Illinois, and a mismatched Fort Wayne team. Their next three games are on the road against South Dakota State, North Dakota State, and South Dakota, so we will find out what the Golden Eagles are actually about.
I believe last year, I did say Emmanuel Nzekwesi was the future of the league. So, I guess I’ll just sit here and toot this horn.
5. Fort Wayne, 1-1
You want to talk about another team with limited depth…in Fort Wayne’s two non-conference games only 7 players have reached double digits in minutes in each game.
Also, in those 2 games, the Mastodons only shot 22% on threes.
6. Western Illinois, 0-2
I got to admit, they have a pretty interesting Big 3 with Brandon Gilbeck, Dalan Ancrum, and Kobe Webster. The Leathernecks also have some interesting role players around those guys.
7. Denver, 0-2
Fort Wayne is just inconsistent, Western Illinois is young, Oral Roberts has a bunch of a new faces, Omaha has injuries. What’s Denver’s thing?
8. Omaha, 0-2
The Mavericks don’t really have a thing that they are great at right now. They were pretty bad at getting to the foul line in the non-conference season, but they did a good job of it against South Dakota State and it helped them make the final score look more respectable.
Perhaps, they can get better at getting to the line and forcing some of the other conference teams with limited depth to foul trouble. Maybe, Renard Suggs can get back into basketball shape and the Mavericks can have a threatening bench with Suggs, Matt Pile, and KJ Robinson/Ayo Akinwole. Hopefully, Mitch Hahn’s shoulder can be better by March and he can actually play.