A short and apathetic list of schools for the Summit League to consider adding

IUPUI leaving the conference creates some problems, or really just brings some problems to light.  The Jaguars cited geography as their primary reason for wanting to leave the Summit league.

When you look at a map of the Summit League and compare it to other small conferences, yeah, it’s looks pretty rough.  The schools along I-29 don’t have it too bad, but travel costs look a little difficult for Denver, Oral Roberts, Fort Wayne, and Western Illinois.

The lack of travel partners made things difficult for teams in basketball.  Someone might luck out one week if they traveled to Vermillion on a Thursday and then play in Brookings on that Saturday, but for the most part teams would get to travel to Fort Wayne for a Wednesday night game and then head to Brookings for a Saturday night game.  The current President of the United States would call that a “total disaster.”

When North Dakota joins the league*, teams will consider it lucking out when they get to spend a half a week in the states of South Dakota or North Dakota, but someone like Fort Wayne could have to deal with flying to Omaha and then getting on a plane the following morning and flying to Tulsa for a Saturday game.

*Will the Summit League ever give us the ultimate North Dakota-Omaha weekend?

  • Thursday night: North Dakota vs Omaha women’s basketball
  • Friday night: North Dakota vs Omaha hockey
  • Saturday noon: North Dakota vs Omaha men’s basketball
  • Saturday night: North Dakota vs Omaha hockey

That might make this whole division one transition experiment worth it.

Can the Summit League also consider the traveling fans?  The South Dakota schools are pretty close to Omaha and it’s not too difficult for the fans to travel to away games in these match ups.  So why is South Dakota playing at Omaha on a Wednesday night?  South Dakota fans do not want to leave Vermillion or Sioux Falls to get to Omaha at 7 pm on a Wednesday night, and then get back in the car and get home late at night.  Games with that proximity should always be played on Saturdays if we’re going to have this wacky Wednesday and Saturday scheduling system.

Fort Wayne is in a weird place.  I assume they are trying to get all the Horizon League members together and frame UIC for murder to open up a spot for the Mastodons.  Let’s get the Farewell cards ready for their potential exit.  While the ‘Dons would be missed, we’d understand their situation.  I’ll also no longer have to debate that 10 hour drive or $500 flight to watch a sporting event.

Fort Wayne would also appear to be in a better situation if they got placed into the Ohio Valley.  They’d still be pretty far away from most of the schools in the OVC, but they would be closer than most of the schools in the Summit League.

Denver also creates a bit of a travel problem for schools.  The city has a major airport, but I can imagine it can be difficult for someone like Omaha or North Dakota State to drive to Vermillion and then cart their stuff to fly out of Sioux Falls to Denver, then fly from Denver back home.  This cuts me to the core to say, but you have to keep Denver happy and in the conference, right?  Their damn soccer team is just too good to let go.

Denver fans appear to hate that the conference is South Dakota based, so I’m sure their blood is boiling now considering that Augustana is considering making a jump to Division 1.

So are there any current D-1 schools to add to the Summit League to help out this geography problem?


Chicago State

Average distance to each WAC school:  ALL OF THE SOUTHWEST RAPID REWARD POINTS

Average distance to each Summit League school:  570 miles

Pros:  1) Travel partner for Fort Wayne (assuming the ‘Dons stay). 2) Chicago is neat. 3) They have all the sports that the Summit League has and wouldn’t have to find a league as an affiliate member for football, wrestling, men’s volleyball, or whatever.

Cons: Their basketball team won six games last year.  One of them was against Billy Wright and Western Illinois!  They also played at Creighton a few years ago.


Northern Colorado

Average distance to each Big Sky school: 817 miles

Average distance to each Summit League school: 698 miles

Pros:  1) The Bears could add a travel partner for Denver.  2) Could add a baseball team to the Summit League (they currently play in the WAC for baseball) 3) Weekend trip to Denver/Greeley!

Cons: Would they join the MVC for football, stay in the Big Sky for football?  What to do!


UMKC

Average distance to each WAC school: HAHAHAHAHAHA

Average distance to each Summit League school: 438 miles

Pros: 1) Travel partner for Omaha. 2) Big airport for the Pioneers to go to and not complain about it. 3) Another city that could compete to have the conference basketball tournaments in. 4) UMKC could actually see a spike in attendance when traveling fans from the South Dakota schools and Omaha travel to Kansas City.

Cons: 2) They might be okay in some sport some day, right?

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11 random things to consider about IUPUI leaving the Summit League

IUPUI is heading for the Horizon League which is kind of sad because they were that program that was okay at everything and always felt like they were going to be solid in everything in 2 years.

Here are some random notes to consider about what to consider about this situation.

  1. You’ll get to watch 2 less games of your school going up against the Jaguars in basketball on ESPN3.  (Seriously, every single game of IUPUI’s was on ESPN3)
  2. Summit League fans will be a little confused if they should still count themselves as the “Conference that had George Hill.”  It’s as confusing as when the Big Ten Network brags up their relationship with the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
  3. Denver will probably complain just a little bit less about geography.  Not really, but maybe?
  4. Summit League fans can finally stop considering making a trip to Indianapolis to see their team play IUPUI (and by that we mean just make an excuse to go visit Indianapolis.)
  5. We have to decide who the new HOW IS THIS TEAM SOMEWHAT OKAY AND BEATING US AT HOME Summit League team is.  I nominate South Dakota.
  6. What school can we speculate will be the program the Summit League needs to add the most to keep Fort Wayne sane?  Someone in Kentucky, Illinois, or Indiana.  Actually, let’s just set the Fort Wayne to Another Conference Clock at 4 Minutes to Midnight.  The Denver version still needs to be reset from when the power went out.
  7. You’re going to miss Jason Gardner a whole lot more than you’re going to miss IUPUI.
  8. You might feel a little sorry for Fort Wayne right now.  The closest Summit League school to them is Western Illinois.  That’s a 6 hour drive.  All 25 sports of their sports fans are feeling this one today.  Also, the couple hundred people who pretended to be Mastodon fans after they beat Indiana should notice this in a couple years, too.
  9. You’re going to miss out on seeing the progress of that one freshman that was going to eventually transfer to a D2 school or disappear off the face of the Earth.
  10. There is going to be a Horizon League versus Summit League Challenge now, right?  Sign us up for Milwaukee versus Omaha!
  11. You’ll never really know who is better between North Dakota and IUPUI in sports stuff.  That will sting for a while.

South Dakota State versus Denver preview

So who is officially the 4 seed in this game?  Who is officially the 5 seed?  Does any of that matter?  This isn’t really a David versus Goliath match up.  It’s more of a David versus Glenn match up.

Pssh, freaking Glenn.

Does it just feel weirdly obvious who is going to win this game?  I hope that is not just me.  If anything, being over confident in the outcome of basketball games has not steered me in the right direction this season.

Clearly, anything can happen after the official throws that ball up for the opening tip, but one of these teams appears to already have the edge and it’s only Wednesday.

South Dakota State is playing in a game that they might as well be playing at home.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say most of that blue in the arena during the Summit League tournament is from Jackrabbit fans and not from Mastodon fans.  The Jackrabbits are also coming into this game with on a 3 game winning streak, while Denver will be arriving in Sioux Falls while they are suffering through a 3 game losing streak.  The Pioneers also only one 1 of their last 5, with the one win against the 8th seeded Leathernecks.

These two also just faced each other last weekend in what was supposed to be an evenly contested game, and the two centers Daniel Amigo and Mike Daum were going to battle it out all night like Arnold Swarzenegger battling the world for a Turboman doll.  Daum had 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting in that game.  Amigo had 8 points on 2-of-8 shooting.

If you’re looking for a breakdown on Daum’s stats on the year, or his stats heading into the conference tournament, they can simply be summed up with: they’re better than yours.

The Jackrabbits also have their second leading scorer AJ Hess back in the lineup, as well as competent backup center Ian Theisen.  South Dakota State is actually healthy, something I don’t feel used to saying.  These teams may have similar characteristics, but the Jackrabbits are a man or two deeper than the Pioneers.

Theisen in my opinion seems like the biggest x-factor for the Jackrabbits, or really just how much TJ Otzelberger decides to play him.  Theisen in the lineup with Daum, allows Daum to play out of the post and play as a stretch 4, where he appears most comfortable.  The backup center can also make surprise shots from the perimeter, give Amigo another big man to go up against.  He also as a significant size advantage over Denver’s backup center Christian Mackey.

Still, weird things happen in college athletics.  It’s still two first year head coaches heading into the opening round of a conference tournament.  One that had his team fall well below expectations, and the other that had his team rise up above the expectations.  Neither of these coaches created the expectations, they just dealt with them.

Who would have thought that a 4 versus 5 would have been so evenly matched?  Both of these teams are fast paced offenses that have had their troubles on the defensive end.  Aside from the crowd advantage, someone may think South Dakota State has the edge as their roster hosts more experience.  Another person might think Denver’s roster is a better unit as a bulk of their players have played with each other longer.

The Pioneers are also coming in with a major sense of revenge factor.  They were just demolished by 22 points a week ago in Brookings on a Senior Day that was for two Jackrabbits that have only been in the program for 30 games each.  Denver was also two free throws away from playing North Dakota State for the conference championship and a NCAA Tournament birth last season before falling to the Jackrabbits in 2016.

Mind games are a heavy thing in college sports.  If the first year coaches are not preparing for this game the right way, they could get the early out Sunday night.  The South Dakota State players could be playing with big egos because of the home court advantage and before of the lopsided win last week.  Denver could be extremely focused to overcome such a disastrous week.  Sometimes, losing can be the best thing for you.

Summit League Predictions: Feb 22-25

A little better last week, but damn it this league is hard.

February 22

North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

The Bison really had no answer for Albert Owens in Fargo as he went off for 28 points and 9 rebounds for the losing Golden Eagles.  The Bison have lost their last 2 road games, and this will be Oral Roberts’ Mega Bowl as they are only playing for a good show and to send their seniors out the right way on their last game.

Omaha @ Denver

Denver shot 64 percent the last time these two teams played, and still lost.  The Mavericks were able to pick up a win in Denver last season, but with 29 points from Jake White as the rest of the team struggled a bit.

Okay, I might be trying to reverse jinx the Mavericks here.

It costs $9.95 to view this game on the Pioneers’ website.  I really don’t want to give them my money, but I might.

February 23

Fort Wayne @ IUPUI on ESPN3

Fort Wayne defeated the Jaguars by 30 a month ago.  IUPUI had 20 turnovers in that game, and it’s probably a bad idea to give the fast paced team like Fort Wayne the ball 20 times at home.

The Jaguars will not turn the ball over that much at home, but their offense is not good enough, even against a sub par defense like Fort Wayne’s, to put up enough points to make up the difference against the Mastodons.  I say that, and remember at one time Western Illinois once outscored Fort Wayne.

South Dakota @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Western Illinois’ defense is capable of frustrating South Dakota, but South Dakota’s defense is also capable of frustrating the non-existent offense of Western Illinois.

South Dakota was without Tyler Flack and were able to beat Western Illinois in Vermillion.  The Leathernecks’ post players are not very well built to stop a player like Flack.

February 25

Denver @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

After a 51 point and 15 rebound performance against a fast paced offensive Fort Wayne, Mike Daum gets a week of rest to play a fast paced offensive Denver.

Maybe this is Mike Daum’s last game in Brookings?  Maybe not.  Either way, good luck Denver.

South Dakota @ IUPUI on ESPN3

The Jaguars are completely unpredictable, who knows what they’ll do.  They lost in Vermillion when the Coyotes were playing without Tyler Flack.  The Jaguars will need to knock down threes against the South Dakota defense, but the match up of the day could come down to Tyler Flack versus Matt O’Leary.

North Dakota State @ Omaha

The Mavericks have shown that they are a tough team to beat when they come out with a high energy level, and they should definitely be playing with some energy on senior night for Marcus Tyus and Tra-Deon Hollins…and Kyler Erickson.

Are the Mavericks going to get a medical hardship for Erickson and make him a 7 year senior next season?

The game between these two last season in Omaha was one of the better games Maverick fans have seen at Baxter Arena or Ralston Arena.  The energy for both teams was high.  The Bison had to figure out how to play without AJ Jacobson, who was in foul trouble.  Jake White had to sit a little bit with some foul trouble, but came back into the game and made huge shot after huge shot.  The Bison were also without Paul Miller in that game, and he is capable of hitting big shots against the Mavericks defense.  Hollins, Tyus, Zach Jackson, and Daniel Norl will need to play big defensive minutes and slow him down.

The Bison are also not the greatest team on the road.  They have lost their last 3 of 4 on the road with the one win at Western Illinois.

Fort Wayne @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Okay, so my take on their previous match up couldn’t have been more wrong as I just wrote:

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

Western Illinois somehow won that game.

Western Illinois was in a zone in that stretch of the season where they were hitting threes with consistency and putting up points.  Other than a 91 point performance in a double overtime game last week, the Leathernecks have struggled to score over the last month and a half.

Garret Covington and Mike Miklusak could go off against the poor defense of Fort Wayne.  That could be enough to top the Mastodons, maybe.

This could potentially be Billy Wright’s last game with Western Illinois.  Maybe the Leathernecks will want to see what he can do next season with a core of Brandon Gilbeck, Dalan Ancrum, and CJ Duff.  I don’t really know though, Western Illinois appears to care the least about athletics in the league.  He’s only been at Western Illinois for 3 seasons, but the Leathernecks have still yet to earn 20 wins over D1 teams.

The most trivial Summit League rankings: Feb 21

There is no way to even pretend ranking the Summit League one to nine would even be accurate at this point.  So this week, we’re going to rank them by tiers.

Tier 1: The all around and consistent

North Dakota State & South Dakota

North Dakota State

Remaining Schedule: Wednesday @ Oral Roberts, Saturday @ Omaha

South Dakota

Remaining Schedule: Thursday @ Western Illinois, Saturday @ IUPUI

Let’s just put this out there right now:  Neither of these teams are a lock to win both of their remaining games, but they are both guaranteed the top two spots in the Summit League tournament.  The two top seeds have a day off in the bracket, assuming they win their first game.

South Dakota is playing two of the possible teams to end up as the 7th or 8th seed, so that’s nice.

Tier 2: The fun, but also frustrating to watch

Denver, Fort Wayne, Omaha, South Dakota State

Going into the final week of the regular season, all four teams could finish as high as 3rd in the Summit League or as low as 7th.  Such a weird year.  Amazingly, all four teams have fast paced offenses and struggle to find consistency on defense.  These are most likely to be the 3 to 6 seeds in the Summit League tournament, and really all of their match ups will just come down to dumb fouls being called and watch coach doesn’t lose their mind in the middle of a first round tournament game.

Might be helpful if either of them can come up with some defensive stops in the tournament.  That would be like asking Hugh Grant to actually be interesting in a movie.

I assume neither Denver, Fort Wayne, or Omaha want to play South Dakota State in Sioux Falls for the first round, and then possibly play South Dakota in the second round.

Denver

Remaining Schedule: Wednesday vs. Omaha, Saturday @ South Dakota State

Fort Wayne

Remaining Schedule: Thursday @ IUPUI, Saturday @ Western Illinois

Omaha

Remaining Schedule:  Wednesday @ Denver, Saturday vs. North Dakota State

South Dakota State

Remaining Schedule: Saturday vs. Denver

Tier 3: The IUPUI

IUPUI

The one thing keeping IUPUI out of Tier 2 is that they have so much inconsistency, you really have no idea what you’re getting when you see them play.  They pick up wins against North Dakota State and Omaha one week, and then the next week drop games to Oral Roberts and South Dakota State.  Still, they can finish as high as 3rd in the conference and as low as 8th.

Remaining Schedule: Thursday vs. Fort Wayne, Saturday vs. South Dakota

Tier 4: The Ouch

Oral Roberts and Western Illinois

Oral Roberts

Remaining Schedule: Wednesday vs. North Dakota State

I actually do not think a win Wednesday night will matter for the Golden Eagles.  Even if they beat North Dakota State, Western Illinois swept Oral Roberts.

Albert Owens had a decent year.

Western Illinois

Remaining Schedule:  Thursday vs. South Dakota, Saturday vs. Fort Wayne

Good for the Leathernecks having their final two games at home, but the team that struggles to score is going to have to figure out a way to outscore two of the better offenses in the league in three days.

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.

My trivial Summit League rankings: Feb 14th

We’re getting closer to the end of the season, and we still have no idea what the Summit League bracket will look like.  Might as well just do something like this, I guess.

1. South Dakota

Somehow, the team of mostly newcomers is the best defensive team and the most efficient offensive team in the Summit League.  Their roster also only has one senior on the team.

The Coyotes are also more dimensional than they appear.  Unlike most the other teams in the conference, they can survive stretches without their stars on the court.  Bench players are starting to come around and find their roles, and the entire team is filled with confidence at the right time of the season.

This team reminds me of old NBA and NCAA video games, actually NBA games may still have this, I wouldn’t know because I don’t play a lot of video games… but, where you can just hit a button and put in your best defensive 5, your three point shooting 5, you big lineup, your small lineup, and whatever.

I think it was generally agreed upon that the most difficult stretch of the conference season for the Coyotes was going to be their three game home stretch at Omaha, North Dakota State, and Fort Wayne and they would really prove themselves if they could get through that tough stretch.  They went 2-1 on that stretch.  We were taking the Coyotes seriously before, now it’s time to take them even more seriously.

2. North Dakota State

Right there with the Coyotes, just not quite as consistent as South Dakota, but still more consistent than the rest of the Summit League.

3. Fort Wayne

Top 3 team in the Summit League in offensive efficiency, bottom 3 in defense.

If the ‘Dons are in the first round against Denver or Omaha, they probably have the greatest chance to make it to the 2nd round.  Getting to the Summit League championship game though, seems like a challenge…but it’s going to be a challenge for everyone.

4. Denver

You take the young players of an efficient system from the old Pioneers and combine it with the fast run-and-gun type of offense like Fort Wayne, and it turns out to be pretty solid.

Like South Dakota, their roster only has one senior.  Denver’s lone senior has played 5 minutes this entire season.

I think I figured out the two teams that will be at the top of the 2017-2018 preseason rankings.

5. Omaha

I have never left or turned off a UNO basketball game before the end of regulation.  I came close and debated it when the Mavs played IUPUI in the Baxter Arena.

The Jaguars embarrassed the Mavericks, and IUPUI wasn’t doing anything special except for not being completely dysfunctional as they have been for a majority of the season.

The mindset of this team is questionable right now.  They have confidence with the base that you need to win the conference tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament, so it’s not like it’s a big deal if they don’t win all the conference games.  It’s going to be difficult to win three games in three days if your team is averaging 15 turnovers, and 12 of those turnovers are completely unforced.

6. IUPUI

It’s February and transfers Ron Patterson and Kellon Thomas seem to be finally gelling in a back court with Darell Combs

Without a doubt, the Jaguars appear to be the biggest I Wonder Which Team of Theirs Will Actually Show Up Tonight team.

7. South Dakota State

Through injuries, lack of talent, and a transfer, the Jackrabbits have a serious depth problem.  A struggling Reed Tellinghuisen was finally able to break out of a slump on Saturday with 28 points on 8-of-13 threes but while playing 38 minutes against a tough South Dakota defense, Tellinghuisen became noticeably tired and couldn’t hit clutch shots.

If Tellinghuisen can be consistently good, and Ian Theisen and AJ Hess can come back healthy and ready to go, the Jackrabbits can be a tough out in Sioux Falls…but could that be asking for a lot?

8. Western Illinois

Out of all the teams that should make the Summit League tournament, you would be the absolute most shocked if it was Western Illinois who got on a hot streak and won the tournament, right?  I think we all understand that it’s not impossible, but in the last 6 games the Leathernecks have not even reached 70 points in a game.  They’re going to need some offense to surprise anyone in the Summit League tournament, especially North Dakota State or South Dakota.

9. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles are not out of it yet, but they are currently sitting in 9th and their remaining games are: @ Omaha, @ South Dakota, and versus North Dakota State.

IUPUI’s remaining schedule: @ South Dakota State, @ Denver, vs. Fort Wayne, vs. South Dakota

South Dakota State’s remaining schedule: vs. IUPUI, @ Fort Wayne, vs. Denver

Western Illinois’ remaining schedule: @ North Dakota State, vs. South Dakota, vs. Fort Wayne.

After putting that out there, I actually don’t feel great for IUPUI.  Don’t feel great for anyone, actually.  Not even super confident about Omaha.