The Mavericks were 3-1 against the teams in the Summit League Championship

So the Mavericks are 3-1 against the two teams currently in the Summit League Championship, and I am not bitter about it at all.

We all knew from the start of the year that these were the two teams to beat in the conference.  Even though IPFW tied for the best record, they were never a guaranteed lock to win over North Dakota State.  We also knew that this conference tournament would be incredibly tough to come out on top and every game had potential to be great and filled with drama…and both of these teams are entering the championship game after roller coaster and emotional wins.  Every game in this tournament has been extremely difficult to win, well IPFW over South Dakota was pretty easy it seemed, and North Dakota State didn’t really pull away until late in their 15 point win over IUPUI.

I’ve liked South Dakota State to win the league the whole year, but it hasn’t been as dreamy as people have thought it would be.  At half time last night, Scott Nagy said his team was playing pretty well defensively, but they were playing poorly on offense.  It didn’t get any better in the second half.  The only player for the Jackrabbits that has played well offensively in the first two games of the conference tournament has been Mike Daum.  Could Daum be the tournament MVP if the Jackrabbits win this game?  A freshman taking home 1st Team All Conference and other awards, on top of Tournament MVP?  We’re going to have 3 more years of this?  I mean that’s great and all, but with all the other solid freshmen in the league, could this be the groundwork to make this a multi-bid conference in the future?

The Jackrabbits’ other 1st Team All Conference player, George Marshall, has looked like the opposite of an All Conference Player.  Marshall is 2-of-16 from the floor in the first two games of the conference tournament, and it kind of looks like he keeps looking at the bench wondering when someone will replace him on the court.  North Dakota State could have their two top players on the bench in foul trouble and still beat the Jackrabbits if Marshall is shooting that poorly in the championship game.  We could bring in Western Illinois to play and they could beat the Jackrabbits if Marshall continues to play like this, or Eastern Illinois.

You would think that South Dakota State could win this game on (basically) a home court advantage and the extra day of rest over North Dakota State.  I have to say, though, there has been a lot of green and yellow in the seats there in Sioux Falls.  I guess it could be Oregon Duck fans, but I will go with my instinct on this one.  The Bison are in the heads of the Jackrabbits, having an advantage over them in the last few seasons.  After the Jacks easily handled IPFW in January, the Bison beat the Jackrabbits by 11 in Fargo and held the Jackrabbits to 29% shooting.  Deondre Parks went 1-of-10 from three in that game.

The Bison also appear to just have more weapons on offense to throw at the Jackrabbits.  SDSU has 5 games that can shoot from anywhere and go off on any given night, but as pointed out, 4 of those 5 guys have not played well lately.  AJ Jacobson, Paul Miller, and Kory Brown all average double figures in scoring for the Bison.  Freshman Khy Kabellis has had his fair share of big scoring games and is coming off a 19 point performance against IPFW.  Dexter Werner is that off the bench high energy post player every team wishes they had, and he just had 18 points and 11 rebounds against IUPUI in the first round.  Carlin Dupree scored 22 points last night against the ‘Dons and made clutch play after clutch play.  The Bison also have senior center Chris Kading who can come in and affect the game with his defense.

Scott Nagy has built a strong reputation as a coach around the Summit League, but for some reason he has not fully connected with Marshall and Parks.   David Richman is the best coach in the league at getting his players to believe in themselves and play to his style.  The Bison lost almost everything from 2013-2014, and he got everyone to buy into him in his first season in 2014-2015.  This season, they lost the Player of the Year from 2014-2015, and he was able to convince them all that they could pick up the missing scoring and not have much of a drop off.  If it had not been for some poor free throw shooting and key injuries, the Bison could have finished with 1 to 2 more wins and been 3rd or 4th in the conference…maybe even 2nd depending on who they beat.  South Dakota State also had some injuries along the way to affect their season.  Nagy has questioned his team’s toughness for the last 3 months, and they are going up against a team that proved their toughness in a huge comeback win over the number 1 seed in the tournament.  You could rate the Jackrabbits’ toughness up there with the toughness of the lemurs in “Madagascar.”

With all of this, I generally feel like South Dakota State should win this game, but there is obviously no way to count out North Dakota State.  Like, there is not even that much confidence riding on the Jackrabbits in this.  I feel like the biggest challenge almost is that weave offense that the Bison run.  Facing the weave, after facing Denver’s Princeton offense, is 2 straight nights of constantly having to move, switch, and rotate on defense.  Both of those offenses are designed to mentally and physically tire out their opponent, among other things.  The lack of movement on offense by South Dakota State on offense really showed just how mentally exhausting it had become last night, and if they continue to play that way, they are going to lose this game.  At least the lemurs can move it move it. .

This game has all the makings of going down to the wire and being won or lost on a last possession just like the last year when these two teams played in the championship game.  So that means one of these teams will probably route the other and win by 20.

 

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Feb 15

I’d like to thank all of the President’s who made the ultimate sacrifice to give me the day off of work today.

There are only two weeks left of the regular season for Summit League basketball.  IPFW, Omaha, and South Dakota State are in a race for the top two spots in the Summit League tournament; which is important because the two top spots play on Saturday, but then not Sunday if they can pick up a win on the first day.  Obviously, teams would like to play 3 out of 4 days instead of 3 days in a row.

Fun idea for a trip:  If Omaha were to be a 3 seed, you could travel to Minneapolis and laugh at the Brooklyn Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves, and then head to Sioux Falls on Saturday to see the Summit League tournament.

1. South Dakota State

Last Week:  1

Remaining opponents conference record:  22-27

Mike Daum will have Mav fans cursing his name for the next few years.  DAUM! DAUM! DAUM YOU!  Another player South Dakota State has that Omaha went after in high school was Reed Tellinguisen.  Tellinghuisen would look really good on the Mavs, and he looks alright on South Dakota State, but he cannot guard stretch 4s, and mainly Tre’Shawn Thurman.  The amount of fear of on his face whenever Thurman got the ball on the low block was equivalent to when my parent’s dog becomes terrified by the sound of a hammer.

2. IPFW

Last week: 2

Remaining opponents conference record: 27-22

Omaha just had one of their most important weeks since transitioning to division one, and now IPFW is going to have a really important week themselves.  IPFW is about to have South Dakota State come to Fort Wayne on Thursday, and then Omaha come to town on Saturday.  Of the three top teams in the Summit League, IPFW is the least deep team thanks to Mo Evans no longer being eligible.

No player in the league has played more 40+ minute games than Max Landis, and the last two games the ‘Dons were really only been able to go with a 6 man rotation.  No team needs a top 2 finish more than the Mastodons.

3. Omaha

Last week: 4

Remaining opponents conference record:  21-16

Two huge wins for the Mavs last week.  I seriously hope that Western Illinois and Denver week does not come back to haunt them.  Obviously, you want the Mavericks to finish 1st, but 2nd is also pretty important, because that means the Mavericks could get a day off in the Summit League tournament (assuming they win the first game) and not have to play 3 days in a row.  Some of the Mavs looked pretty tired against North Dakota State.

I really do not think Jake White gets enough credit for what he has done on this team.  His shot has become so much better throughout the season, he is incredibly clutch, and there are really not many players in the league that can guard him.  NDSU’s Chris Kading seems to be the best equipped for it, but the Bison needed to have him guard Thurman down the stretch…which allowed for Jake White to go off in the second half over the shorter AJ Jacobson and Dexter Werner.

By the way, one of my keys for the Mavs to have a successful season was for Jake White to improve his field goal percentage and get up around 45%.  He’s shooting 57% from the field!  Now if only referees weren’t out to get him.

4. North Dakota State

Last week: 3

Remaining opponents conference record:  31-26

Okay, I know it gets a little dicey after the top 3 right now.  The Bison have dropped two in a row, but they still have wins over South Dakota State and IPFW on the season.  They are a scary team with Paul Miller on the court, but it would be extremely difficult for them to win one game in the Summit League tournament without him on the court.

I like David Richman, and I know that Chris Kading had some health concerns over the summer, but why did he not play Kading more against Omaha?  The interior of Omaha struggled to score with Kading on the court, granted Jake White was in foul trouble, but still.  NDSU’s best lineup was with Kading and Dexter Werner on the court, Omaha had difficulty scoring inside with the two of them on the court, but Richman insisted on going with Werner and AJ Jacobson as long as he could.  Is he not allowed to play all three of them at the same time?

5. IUPUI

Last week:  5th

Remaining opponents conference record:  28-22

I like the Jags, but the most they scored on their recent 3 game road trip was 58 points… The Jaguars have yet to lose a conference game at home, which is good for them because they have 3 of the last 4 at home…They only won their last two home games by a total of 3 points.

6. Denver

Last week:

Remaining opponents conference record:  15-23

The Pioneers have 2 of their last 3 on the road, and their offense makes them a dangerous team.  You know, that’s all I really want to say about Denver right now.  That’s all I really can say about the Pioneers before wanting to black out.

So, hey, Valentine’s Day was nice.  My wife doesn’t really care about Valentine’s Day, so that is pretty dope.  I made some spaghetti, but I threw in some mushrooms, zucchini, and scallops, and it was pretty tasty.  That was a side to the salmon we had, and I also made a pretty nice salad.  We each had our (current) favorite beers.  She had the Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, and I had the IRA from Zip Line.  That Zipe Line is pretty impressive.  You’re pretty jealous, right?  My Valentine’s Day was me drinking beer with my wife and us discussing how stupid Valentine’s Day is.

7. Oral Roberts

Last week: 8

Remaining opponents conference record:  23-15

The Golden Eagles only have one game this week and it is against Denver, which is really a game for them fighting over seeding in the Summit League tournament.  After that, Oral Roberts is at Omaha and South Dakota State.  Sounds fun.

Scott Sutton and Oral Roberts need to win their last three games just to finish at .500 in conference.  They have not finished below .500 since 2000-01.  The team doesn’t look like they are really “made for the future” right now either.

8. South Dakota

Last week: 7

Remaining opponents conference record:  14-23

The team lost their starting point guard, Shy McClelland, and a rarely used guard, Zach Dickerson, last week.  They are not an incredibly deep team in the back court, but they do have some depth in their front court.  Wasn’t South Dakota versus Oral Roberts one of the most anticipated preseason match ups for this conference?

9. Western Illinois

Last week: 9

Remaining opponents conference record:  27-21

They actually could still make the Summit League tournament.  Their last game against the season is against South Dakota, who is currently in the 8th spot.  Wait, so South Dakota versus Western Illinois might actually be important?  They could take advantage of North Dakota State not having Paul Miller on Wednesday, but if Miller is playing, let’s not kid ourselves… They also have South Dakota State, and now we’re all laughing and having a good time, but the Mav and IPFW fans are looking for God’s address to send him letters.  Actually, Western Illinois picking up a win at home against IPFW is not far fetched.

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.

 

Summit League Predictions: Jan 13-16

I went 4-2 last week missing on IUPUI @ Western Illinois and Omaha @ North Dakota State.  Who else would have picked IUPUI over South Dakota State or Denver over Oral Roberts?  I’m pretty damn happy missing on North Dakota State.  I feel like Western Illinois just keeps lying to us though.  They beat Wisconsin and people thought they would be a dangerous team, they still have votes in the Mid-Major 25, they returned a bunch of experience, but their shooting percentage keeps plummeting.  They’re the girlfriend that keeps cheating on your buddy, and she continues telling him this is the last time, so you have to keep getting drunk and playing Rock Band with him until 4 in the morning every Saturday night to help him keeping his mind off of stuff…and really you need to tell him to just move on.  Not talking from experience or anything.

January 13

South Dakota @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

The home team won each game in this series last year, which is partly why I am taking the Bison here…but mostly because the Bison are an overall better team.  The Bison won in Fargo by 24 the last time these two teams played.  One scary thing, (and I know I have mentioned this before) no team in the Summit League forces teams to take more threes than the Coyotes, and the Bison shoot the 2nd most threes in the league while being 7th in the league in 3 point field goal percentage.  The Bison were 8-of-12 from 3 at home against Denver and 8-of-21 at home against Omaha.  There are really not a lot of knock down three point shooters for the Bison, only Paul Miller and AJ Jacobson shoot higher than 30% from three.  The Bison have also gone with a few different lineup changes over the last few games, which has been a little confusing, but David Richman says his players are completely fine with this.

The fun match up of the game to watch could be the forward position between Tre Burnette (14.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 47fg%) versus AJ Jacobson (13.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 46fg%).  But the real match up to see is whoever Craig Smith decides to try and stop Paul Miller.

January 14

Oral Roberts @ IUPUI on ESPN3

I picked IUPUI to win this game before the start of the season.  I thought Oral Roberts would be favored because it was Oral Roberts and it is IUPUI, then the Jaguars would surprise the Golden Eagles, but instead Oral Roberts is 1-3 and IUPUI is 3-1.

Oral Roberts really has too many newcomers to face a defensive team like the Jaguars.  So far, in 4 Summit League games, the Jaguars are 2nd in the Summit in defensive field goal percentage and 1st in defensive three point field goal percentage.  In 3 games against the Jaguars last season, Obi Emegano shot 10-of-33 from the field and 2-of-9 from three.  The Golden Eagles have shown that they struggle without the preseason player of the year by losing to South Dakota and Denver, each team’s only conference win so far, so how could they do when he is being contained by Marcellus Barksdale?

Denver @ Western Illinois

Denver won in Macomb last season, but this was when Western Illinois basically did not have a roster anymore due to injuries late in the year.  This basketball game could be classically ugly.  There will be one team does not get into the Summit League tournament, and this is looking like the two worst teams in the Summit League, so the last tournament spot could be on the line.

In 4 conference games so far, Denver has the worst defensive field goal percentage in the league, and Western Illinois has shown they can shoot well against poor defenses.  I don’t want to think about this game anymore.

IPFWSouth Dakota State

Both teams are going to have difficult schedules on the week, and this should be a really fun game.  Fort Wayne lost by 29 the last time they played in Brookings, a game that the ‘Dons had 24 turnovers in.  Now, the ‘Dons are coming into this game on a 6 game winning streak.

This is a match up for two of the best back courts in the Summit, and there should be close to 20 three point field goals made.  A serious question for the Jackrabbits is: is Jake Bittle playing?  Without Bittle, I am taking IPFW.  The ‘Dons are a slightly better defensive team than the Jackrabbits, which could make a big difference in a game between two of the best teams.  In their first three conference games, the Jackrabbits have shot 38% from the field against IUPUI, Western Illinois, and Denver.  All of these games have been without Jake Bittle.  They cannot shoot 38% from the floor and beat the ‘Dons.

I don’t know how far back you can go and replay games on ESPN3, but if you can, go watch South Dakota State @ IUPUI.  South Dakota State, who is supposed to be the best coached team in the Summit, would go 5 minute stretches with 4 players not even attempting to move without the ball on every single play.  There is no one on the team that will force their teammates to move without Jake Bittle.

January 16

Denver @ IUPUI on ESPN3

See above about the South Dakota State not moving the ball on IUPUI.  Can IUPUI keep Denver from moving the ball around and getting shots off in their Princeton offense?  IUPUI swept Denver last season by a combined 4 points.  This game will be close, it will be low scoring, and it will be as frustrating as a 14 year old boy dealing with dial up internet when his parents are not home.  Hey, it takes a while to do homework when you’re 14.  Especially with a poor internet connection.

IPFW @ Omaha

The two highest scoring teams in the Summit will be facing off.  I would like to think the Omaha crowd will be larger than normal.  Their team is on their longest winning streak since transitioning to division one, Devin Patterson has won the conference player of the week award twice in a row, Tra-Deon Hollins leads the nation in steals, Omaha is coming off one of their best weeks in division one beating North Dakota State and South Dakota on the road, there will be no competing Creighton or NFL game, and the brand of Omaha basketball is getting some recognition right now.

This is the only game of the week for Omaha, while IPFW has to go on the road against South Dakota State and Omaha.  South Dakota State is ranked 15th in the Mid-Major Poll, IPFW is 20th, and Omaha is 10 votes away from being 25th.

Patterson against Mo Evans should be a really fun match up to watch in this game.  In 4 games against each other; Patterson has averaged 9.3 ppg, 2.3 apg, 1.3 spg, and shot 52% from the field; Evans has averaged 12.3 ppg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, and shot 42% from the field.  In IPFW’s current 6 game winning steak (not counting Purdue North Central), Evans has averaged 17.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.8 apg, and shot 49% from the field.  In Omaha’s current 6 game winning streak, Patterson has averaged 21.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2 spg, and shot 53% from the field.

Maybe Patterson and Evans cancel each other out, I don’t know.  Another interesting match up should be the battle in the post with IPFW’s Joe Reed (10.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 55 fg%) and John Konchar (11.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 58fg%) against Jake White (16 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 57fg%) and Tre’Shawn Thurman (14.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 52fg%).  IPFW could start Brent Calhoun at the center spot, but Jon Coffman regularly takes him out pretty quickly and plays small ball with the 6’4″ Konchar at the 4 position.  Calhoun has gone from basically just being a tree in the middle of the lane to being effective in the last couple of games for the ‘Dons.  Last week against South Dakota and Denver, Calhoun averaged 13 & 5 and shot 11-of-12 from the floor.

These teams actually sound pretty close to each other on paper.  Now I feel bad for dogging on the ‘Dons all year.  Okay, how about this.  At the 2 guard position, Tra-Deon Hollins and Max Landis are almost opposite.  Hollins is not a great three point shooter, Landis leads the Summit in three point field goals made (Evans is 2nd in three point field goals made).  Landis is not known for being a great defender, Hollins leads the nation in steals.  Who is going to get the better of the two here?

This game has a recipe for a lot of drama.  Maybe another game Omaha is down by double digits and has to fight back, but the ‘Dons have several offensive weapons so it might be as easy as coming back on the Leathernecks or Coyotes.

South Dakota State @ North Dakota State on ESPN 3

I admit it.  I am for the most part only taking the Bison because they are the home team in this rivalry.  Last week, I took NDSU against the Mavericks mainly because they were the home team and because almost no Maverick ever had a quality game against the Bison…and I was very happy to be wrong.

Oral Roberts @ Western Illinois

Obi Emegano should hopefully be fully recovered from his concussion at this point.  I also don’t think Obi Emegano would let his team fall to his former school.  Against Western Illinois last season, Emegano averaged 23.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and shot 52% from the field.  Western Illinois’ best player, Garret Covington had 13.5 ppg, 6 rpg, and shot 26% from the field.  Emegano has the ability to fully put his team on his back and win a basketball game similar to North Dakota State’s Lawrence Alexander last season.

Western Illinois also recently stopped using Jamie Batish off the bench, who was leading the conference in three point field goal percentage at one point.  Mike Miklusak was giving the Leathernecks’ good minutes off the bench, but was injured against Omaha, and hasn’t been seen since.  Miklusak missed the last 13 games of 2014-2015 and Western Illinois went 1-12 with him out.  WIU’s top three players: Garret Covington, JC Fuller, and Jabari Sandifer are far too consistent to go up against a guy like Emegano.


Summit League RPI Rankings as of January 12th

51. South Dakota State

78. IPFW

107. Oral Roberts

139. Omaha

152. South Dakota

163. IUPUI

170. North Dakota State

234. Denver

252. Western Illinois


Summit League Kenpom Rankings as of January 12th

83. South Dakota State

133. Omaha

155. North Dakota State

160. IPFW

188. IUPUI

189. Western Illinois

193. Oral Roberts

209. South Dakota

243. Denver

My trivial Summit League Rankings – Jan 5

Why not do some “power rankings” for the Summit League?  It’s a top 10 conference right now, and it probably still will not get enough respect from the tournament committee to get two teams into the big dance.  If you’re really impressed by Joe Lunardi’s fake bracket in July, then you might actually love something like this…but please, don’t even talk to me.  Power rankings are kind of like a movie that has a pretty good story going up until the end and you find out it was all really just a dream and you realize the story sucked all along and Blake Lively has a really short range even if she was great in “The Town”…but here we go.

1. South Dakota State

  • A 9 point win and a 4 point win over who many think to be the two worst teams in the Summit was not the best way to start off conference play for numero uno, but they still came out 2-0.
  • The Jackrabbits look different without Jake Bittle.  He may not be their flashiest player, but he is by far their smartest player that runs their offense and makes a low amount of decisions.  His injury was only listed as 2-3 weeks, but they may not be favored in a road game against IUPUI without Bittle.
  • The big question mark for the Jacks was: who were they going to play at the center position?  Redshirt frosh, and Nebraska native, Mike Daum has been the answer for SDSU and has been averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds per game in 17 minutes a contest.  Sophomore Ian Theisen has been putting up nearly 7 points and 4 rebounds per game, and both players can knock down threes.

2. North Dakota State

  • The Bison put up a 10-4 record in non-conference play even while battling with injuries to two of their top players: Chris Kading and Kory Brown.
  • NDSU recently moved Carlin Dupree to the bench and he scored 16 in 28 minutes.
  • Head Coach David Richman acknowledges that they are a young team, but they still have a target on their backs and everyone in the conference is going to give them their best.  Don’t worry about Globo Gym, they’ll be fine.
  • Curious who was going to make up the scoring for the loss of Lawrence Alexander?  Did you think it would be sophomore Paul Miller?  Miller is scoring 16.6 points per game and he is making 2.7 threes per game at 43%.

3. Omaha

  • Clearly it looks like I have issues putting them here, but you shouldn’t be surprised.  The Mavericks have won 4 games in a row and that is the longest streak they have had over division one teams.
  • In the year of the foul, they get to the line more than anyone else in the Summit League.  The Mavericks have shot 52 more free throws than South Dakota State, who has the second most free throw attempts on the season.  If you’re not a deep team, especially at the wing, you could really run into foul trouble on the Mavs.  They are also second in free throw percentage in the Summit League behind Denver.
  • Tra-Deon Hollins is still leading the country in steals.  Back courts have had issues getting the by Hollins and Devin Patterson.

4. IPFW

  • They are 12-4, but I challenge you to find a meaningful win.  Oral Roberts is their best win.
  • Head Coach Jon Coffman wanted to play more small ball this season and shoot more threes to match the rest of the Summit League, and they currently have the second highest three point shooting percentage in the league behind Western Illinois.  They are even second in scoring behind Omaha.
  • Mo Evans could be the most difficult player in the Summit League to defend, after Obi Emegano, Evans is tied for second in the conference in scoring (17.3) and he is third in assists (5.1).
  • The Dons were really excited about redshirt freshman John Konchar, who Coffman said would have been worth 5 wins last season.  Konchar is averaging 11.2 points and a league leading 7.7 rebounds per game.  He’s also 5th in field goal percentage in the Summit League.  He has been playing mostly the 4 position, so he will soon have to go up against AJ Jacobson, Tre’Shawn Thurman, and Tre Burnette.
  • Max Landis has made more threes than any other player in the League with 3.3 threes per game.

5. South Dakota

  • The Coyotes lost at home to IUPUI, but then beat Oral Roberts on the road.  They had similar situations like this last year.  Losing at home to Omaha, beating Omaha on the road.  Losing to Oral Roberts at home, beating Oral Roberts on the road.  Losing to Denver at home, beating Denver on the road.  They are a hard team to predict for.  This season they have beat Minnesota, lost to CSU Bakersfield, seriously, a hard team to figure out.
  • Last year, their defense forced teams to take the more threes than any other team in the Summit League and they have done the same thing so far this season.  So teams have to be able to knock down threes against the Coyotes.  **Looks at UNO’s three point field goal percentage…hits head on table**

6. Oral Roberts

  • Oral Roberts had a very difficult non-conference schedule, but they now have lost 6 games in a row…5 of those 6 games were on the road.
  • The Golden Eagles have the best player in the league with Obi Emegano, but after that they are an incredibly young and inexperienced team.  They are going to have a few “Seriously!” losses.
  • ORU lost to South Dakota at home without Obi Emegano, who was out with concussion symptoms.

7. IUPUI

  • Another team with an incredibly difficult non-conference schedule, the Jaguars are currently 5-12, but they did manage to beat South Dakota on the road.  They are a gritty team and head the Coyotes to 2 of 15 on threes in that game.
  • The Jaguars are playing with a large portion of their team as newcomers, so they could have some “Seriously” wins.

8. Western Illinois

  • They gave up a 16 point lead to Omaha and only lost by 4 to (a Jake Bittle-less) South Dakota State.
  • The Leathernecks are a deep team in the sense that they have a ton of players on the roster, but there is a significant talent drop off after their top 4 players.  They were an injury filled team last season, and there have been a few little injuries so far this season…but they have had the same starting lineup in every game.
  • They are an inconsistent team, in the sense that everyone on their team is incredibly inconsistent.
  • The Leathernecks do have the best three point field goal percentage in the league, but they played an incredibly weak non-conference schedule.  Yes, yes, we all know they beat Wisconsin…cool.

9. Denver

  • Starting the conference season against North Dakota State and South Dakota State was not fun for them…and now they have Oral Roberts coming to Denver.  Denver has been a good home team the last 3 seasons, but can Oral Roberts really drop 7 in a row?  Yes, it is possible.
  • The Pioneers also played a weak non-conference schedule facing no power conference teams, but they may have done this to get their basically new roster some much needed experience.

Seriously, Blake Lively was only really given 15 minutes of actual screen time in the “The Town.”