South Dakota State-Oral Roberts Summit Tourney preview

South Dakota State and Oral Roberts are playing in the first round of the Summit League tournament.  No one predicted this happening.  Seriously, Oral Roberts was picked to finish third in the conference by basically everyone, even though the evidence was stacked up against them finishing 3rd.  Preseason predictions are based mostly on what teams are returning versus what they lost, and a combination of just assuming the standings should finish about the same as last season.

Amazingly, Oral Roberts lost the 2nd most off their roster from last season in the conference and South Dakota lost the most; and now they are playing in the Summit League tournament as the 7 and 8 seeds.  Western Illinois actually returned most of their team, and they finished in 9th, and now have to watch the tournament in Macomb…which sounds like the worst possible fate.

Oral Roberts got here by the loss of key players, off season injuries to their two seniors, Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley, no team chemistry, and mistake after mistake by their freshmen players.  The Golden Eagles lost to South Dakota State over last weekend and there was a point where one of the freshmen on the team was passing the ball to a teammate and the ball flew over the player’s head and into the 15th row of fans.  Scott Sutton just put his head down in disbelief and disgust for about an entire minute.  It was the same look I got when I learned that there are white chocolate Reese’s peanut butter cups on the second day of my diet.  Or the same look when my brother saw my parents giving my niece a microphone that provided her with the opportunity to listen and sing along to the same 15 seconds of that Let it Go song from “Frozen” over and over again.  Sutton even sounded depressed at the conference media day, opposite of how IPFW’s Jon Coffman sounded.

This was the first season that Scott Sutton and Oral Roberts finished below .500 in conference play since 2001, and now he gets to start the Summit League tournament against South Dakota State in Sioux Falls.  The Jackrabbits swept Oral Roberts by 12 points in Tulsa and then by 8 points in Brookings, so maybe they will only win this one by 4.  I think that is how math works.

I really do not think that any coaches in the Summit League will be leaving their jobs, but if I had to pick two guys that would most likely leave their jobs, it would have to be the two coaches of this game.  Scott Sutton is about to die of stress on the sideline, so why not try and go die on the sideline of a team at a bigger program for a few years.  Scott Nagy is going to lose the bulk of his team’s offense, and might not even be favored to finish in the top half of the Summit League next season.  Seriously; IPFW, IUPUI, Omaha, and South Dakota all look to be better on paper at this point.  Anyway, Nagy seems like a career South Dakota State guy, but would he not at least want to show some interest if the TCU, LSU, or Minnesota became open jobs?

Anyway, this game…

I would like to say that maybe Oral Roberts can come out with a revenge factor, or thinking this game could be their big moment.  This team was swept by the top three teams in the league: IPFW, South Dakota State, and Omaha…but hey at least they swept Western Illinois.  Actually, they swept IUPUI too and it was weird.  This game really seems like it comes down to maturity versus immaturity.  South Dakota State rarely makes mistakes and Oral Roberts makes mistakes every other play.

Last week when they played, Oral Roberts need 22 points out of Obi Emegano and 15 out of Brandon Conley to just keep the game somewhat close.  Jake Bittle of South Dakota State went 0-of-4 from the floor, Deondre Parks got into a little bit of foul trouble, and the Jackrabbits were able to still find other guys to step up to shoot over 50% from the floor as a team.

In their first meeting, Emegano scored 20 points and the Golden Eagles got a combined 33 points from their two freshman Javan White and Kris Martin.  The Jackrabbits will also able to shoot over 50% from the floor in that game.  That’s the thing though: you know Obi Emegano can get 20 points, but you have no idea where the rest of the scoring is coming from game after game by his teammates.  Emegano has scored in double figures in 34 straight games.  The last time he didn’t reach double figures was when Oral Roberts lost by 29 at South Dakota State last season.

It’s rare that any of his teammates can string along double digit scoring performances game to game.  Conley did it once this season where he scored in double figures two games in a row; point guard Aaron Young and freshman Javan White each also once had 2 games in a row of double figure scoring.  Jalen Bradley had 4 games earlier in the season with 10+, and then another 2 games in a row later in the season.  Freshman Kris Martin did it three separate times of 2 games in a row, and sophomore center Albert Owens had 5 different streaks of scoring double digits.  Owens actually had a decent month of February averaging 13.2 points per game, but ended with 2 points against South Dakota State.  He also only scored 5 points against the Jackrabbits back in January, and it was almost impressive how bad he played.  It looked like when your friends play a pick up game of basketball and you only have 9 guys, but you find the one random guy in the gym who just got down working out, and he come out onto the court and stands at the top of the key and decides to shoot terrible looking jump shots with the ball feeling as small as a dog toy because he just got so swole from his work out.  The point is, this team struggles with consistency…which pretty much shows when they have a 7 game losing streak and a 5 game losing streak on the season.

South Dakota State does not struggle with consistency.  They have yet to lose in the state of South Dakota this season.  They have barely ever lost when they’ve had their three seniors Jake Bittle, George Marshall, and Deondre Parks in the line up at the same time.  The only core player on the team that struggled with consistency was sophomore Reed Tellinghuisen who was up and down this season with his shooting.  He finished the last 4 of 6 games in double figures and the two games he did not score at least 10, he combined for 0-of-6 from the field against South Dakota and Western Illinois for a total of 5 free throws.  He was one of the guys to step up when he was needed last week scoring 15 points on 4-of-6 from the floor and also grabbed 6 rebounds.  The point there is if any of Bittle, Marshall, or Parks struggle; the Jackrabbits have Tellinghuisen (9.2 ppg), Mike Daum (14.8 ppg), and Ian Theisen (6.1 ppg) to step up.  If Emegano and Conley struggle, Oral Roberts is putting 50 dollars down on a random number in Roulette.

South Dakota State should come out on top in this game, and they are probably favored to win the conference tournament, which should be a slap in the face to IPFW.  I have no idea how ESPN says a team has a certain percentage to win a game, so I will just randomly say South Dakota State has a 97% chance of winning this game.  97% sounds good.


 

The Men’s basketball awards should be coming out today or tomorrow.  If I had to throw out a guess on who gets picked…

Player of the Year: Max Landis, IPFW

Newcomer of the Year:  John Konchar, but is it possible to get a three way tie with him, Mike Daum, and Tra-Deon Hollins?

Defensive Player of the Year: Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha

Sixth Man of the Year: Mike Daum, South Dakota State

Coach of the Year: Derrin Hansen, Omaha

All Summit League Team

FIRST TEAM

Obi Emegano, Oral Roberts, Sr

Max Landis, IPFW, Sr

George Marshall, South Dakota State, Sr

Devin Patterson, Omaha, Sr

Deondre Parks, South Dakota State, Sr

Jake White, Omaha, Sr

SECOND TEAM

Darell Combs, IUPUI, Jr

Garret Covington*, Western Illinois, Jr

Mike Daum, South Dakota State, Fr

Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha, Jr

John Konchar, IPFW, Fr

*I think Covington gets on the 2nd team, but I don’t think he deserves it.

HONORABLE MENTION

Kory Brown, North Dakota State, Sr

Nate Engesser, Denver, Sr

AJ Jacobson, North Dakota State, So

Paul Miller, North Dakota State, So

Tre’Shawn Thurman, Omaha, So

NEWCOMER

Darell Combs, IUPUI, Jr

Mike Daum, South Dakota State, Fr

Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha, Jr

John Konchar, IPFW, Fr

Joe Rosga, Denver, Fr

 

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Hey seniors, thanks for the memories

On Thursday night, five seniors will play their final regular season game in Baxter Arena.  Though none of them are 4 years players into the program, they will still leave behind some lasting memories onto the program.  Here are just a few the memories that they gave Mav fans during their time here in the Ralston and Baxter arenas (so far).

November 13th, 2013

In Devin Patterson’s first game, he had 9 points, 8 assists, and 4 steals to help Omaha get their first home win 2013-2014.

November 16th, 2014

In the first game of last season during transition, Devin Patterson had an incredible performance to help lead Omaha to a 25 point win over Central Arkansas.  Patterson finished the game with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists.  Randy Reed showed some of his promise with 10 points and 7 rebounds off of the bench, while Jake White  almost had a double-double in the first half before being going to the locker room with an injury.  White’s injury would eventually lead Mav fans to constantly wonder what the season would have been like had White been healthy throughout the season.

November 22nd, 2014

While it was not a home game, Mav fans were left to continuously and gleefully keep reloading the box score on their phones and screamed “HOLY CRAP THIS IS GONNA HAPPEN” as the Mavericks were able to pull off an upset at Marquette.  Patterson led the way with 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists.

November 27th, 2015

Another game not played in Omaha, but Mav fans were given the opportunity to watch the game on ESPN3.  Jake White, playing in his home state against Minnesota, was in foul trouble the in the first half of the game.  When the Mavericks were on the verge of making a comeback on the Gophers, Jake White stepped up on offense in the second half before fouling out.  He finished with 23 points with 3 three point field goals, which all seemed to be exactly when the Mavericks needed them.

February 12th, 2015

Tim Smallwood made his first career start after Marcus Tyus’ season ended with a knee injury.  Smallwood was able to show that he was more than just a three point shooter with some key defensive plays against the guards of South Dakota…He finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block.  This game was also the most minutes Kyler Erickson ever got at the Ralston Arena, and he was able to show off his hustle, heart, and enthusiasm to the Mav fan in his opportunity, Erickson had 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block…and I’m sure flexed and screamed at the crowd at some point.

February 19th, 2015

In what would be the last game at the Ralston Arena, the Mavericks were almost able to pick up an upset in a 3 point loss to Oral Roberts.  Patterson led Omaha with 23 points and 3 assists.  Randy Reed really brought some energy off the bench that game with 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 2 blocks and played really good defense against Korey Billbury while on the court.  Jake White was appearing more healthy at that point and had 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks; yet you could see he was still a little slowed down with injuries.

November 13th, 2015

The first home game after transition, and first official basketball game in the Baxter Arena, was probably the most anticipated game this century for the Mavericks.  The game turned out to be an offensive struggle for the Mavericks, shooting 35% from the field and 3-of-22 on threes in the game.  Randy Reed was able to provide a huge spark off the bench in the second half with a couple of key dunks, and he finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds.  Jake White also had a moment where he was knocked to the ground and quickly got up without the help of any of his teammates, probably to show Mav fans that he was healthy once again…at least that is what went through my mind.

November 17th, 2015

The Mavericks had to force overtime to make a comeback win against UMKC with the help of three seniors in double digits.  Devin Patterson had a key play at the end of the game where he broke by his defender and forced a UMKC player to foul him and send him to the line for the opportunity to send the game to overtime.  Jake White finished with 17 points and 7 rebounds; Devin Patterson with 19 points and 2 assists; and Tim Smallwood with 11 points and 4 rebounds.  The three seniors combined for 24 made free throws.

January 1st, 2016

Another game where the Mavericks had to come from behind to win in the 2nd half to pick up a win.  Western Illinois was ahead by 16 in the 2nd half, but then Tim Smallwood hit a couple of threes and Devin Patterson scored 7 points as part of a comeback run in the second half.  The Mavericks were able to force 9 turnovers in the final 8 minutes of the game, led by Smallwood who had 5 steals.  Smallwood ended with 14 points and 4 threes; Patterson ended the game with 25 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals; and Jake White ended the game with 20 points and 5 rebounds.

January 16th, 2016

IPFW’s Max Landis was close to impossible to guard, and the Mavericks had to comeback to force overtime before losing to the Mastodons.  Devin Patterson and Jake White combined for 50 points in the loss; White as also able to grab 11 rebounds.

January 30th, 2016

Another game that Devin Patterson and Jake White were able to combine for 50 points to help the Mavericks cruise to a win over South Dakota.  Tim Smallwood also added 12 points; and Randy Reed had 9 points and 5 rebounds.

February 10th, 2016

Kyler Erickson was just selected to the NABC Good Works Team and was honored before the game, and rewarded with his first career start.  Erickson played quality minutes and made huge hustle plays on defense to help the Mavericks pick up their first win over a team with a RPI in the top 50.  Jake White scored hit 4 threes in the game to help him reach 18 points on the night, after being limited with foul trouble in the first half.  Devin Patterson added 15 points and 4 assists; Tim Smallwood finished with 7 points; and Randy Reed had some high energy plays to give him 6 points.

February 13th, 2016

With most of his team appearing gassed after their win against South Dakota State, Jake White put on a show with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting, he also had 7 rebounds to lead the Mavericks to their first win over North Dakota State in Omaha and their first season sweep of the Bison.  Kyler Erickson finished with 7 points, and had a huge dive for the ball to grab possession for the Mavericks.

The seniors will have one final run at home when they meet Obi Emegano and the Golden Eagles, though it is possible that the Mavericks could host a post season game at home.  All 5 players were incredibly essential to the growth and success of the men’s basketball program.  I wish them good them good luck on their senior night, The Summit League tournament, and on whatever future plans they have.


Here are how the seniors stacked up in the since transition stats, and they still have at least two games to go.

By the way, if you’re sitting around like: this guy is an idiot to keep these stats like this…what a loser…he has too much time on his hands.  My wife is working on her PhD and is on a research project that requires her to work from 8am to 10pm everyday of the week.  I was so bored last night that I watched the movie “Dutch” and then backed it up by watching the third Terminator movie…well I was in and out on the Terminator film, and I was really just watching it to remind myself of how terrible it was…the point is, yes, I do currently have time on my hands.  And “Dutch” didn’t hold up like I remembered it as a kid.

Points

3rd Devin Patterson                      1137

7th Jake White                                  651

14th Tim Smallwood                      279

16th Randy Reed                              250

17th Kyler Erickson                          151

Rebounds

7th Jake White                                   361

8th Devin Patterson                         231

14th Randy Reed                                134

15th Tim Smallwood                         118

17th Kyler Erickson                            86

Assists

2nd Devin Patterson                         303

13th Tim Smallwood                           40

14th Kyler Erickson                             36

17th Randy Reed                                  26

20. Jake White                                      19

Steals

1st Devin Patterson                        169

11th Tim Smallwood                         38

16th Randy Reed                                25

17th Kyler Erickson                           21

19th Jake White                                   15

Blocks

7th Randy Reed                                   18

10th Jake White                                   14

18th Tim Smallwood                            6

19th Kyler Erickson                              5

3 Point Field Goals Made

2nd Devin Patterson                        104

7th Tim Smallwood                             55

11th Kyler Erickson                             24

14th Jake White                                    22

25th Randy Reed                                     4

Double-Doubles

2nd Jake White                                         6

Games Started

3rd Devin Patterson                             87

10th Jake White                                      32

15th Tim Smallwood                               7

17th Kyler Erickson                                 4

Points-Sophomore

3rd Devin Patterson                             323

Rebounds-Sophomore

5th Devin Patterson                               85

Assists-Sophomore

1st Devin Patterson                              106

Steals-Sophomore

1st Devin Patterson                                57

3 Point Field Goals Made

2nd Devin Patterson                              32

Points-Junior

5th Devin Patterson                             317

10th Jake White                                     146

11th Tim Smallwood                              113

13th Randy Reed                                     104

17th Kyler Erickson                                 63

Rebounds-Junior

6th Jake White                                        112

11th Devin Patterson                             76

12th Randy Reed                                      52

13th Tim Smallwood                               51

17th Kyler Erickson                                29

Assists-Junior

3rd Devin Patterson                             104

12th Tim Smallwood                              23

14th Kyler Erickson                                14

16th Randy Reed                                      12

17th Jake White                                          9

Steals-Junior

2nd Devin Patterson                               59

10th Tim Smallwood                               19

14th Randy Reed                                       11

16th Kyler Erickson                                 10

18th Jake White                                           6

Blocks-Junior

5th Randy Reed                                            9

7th Jake White                                              7

11th Tim Smallwood                                    3

13th Kyler Erickson                                      1

3 Point Field Goals Made

5th Devin Patterson                                   27

9th Tim Smallwood                                    18

12th Kyler Erickson                                       7

14th Jake White                                              4

15th Randy Reed                                             2

Points-Senior

2nd Jake White                                            505

3rd Devin Patterson                                   497

9th Tim Smallwood                                    168

11th Randy Reed                                           145

14th Kyler Erickson                                     100

Rebounds-Senior

2nd Jake White                                             182

7th Randy Reed                                              83

9th Devin Patterson                                     69

13th Tim Smallwood                                     62

14th Kyler Erickson                                       57

Assists-Senior

1st Devin Patterson                                       93

9th Kyler Erickson                                         21

11th Tim Smallwood                                      18

13th Randy Reed                                             15

16th Jake White                                              10

Steals-Senior

1st Devin Patterson                                       51

8th Tim Smallwood                                       18

11th Randy Reed                                              14

13th Jake White & Kyler Erickson                9

Blocks-Senior

6th Randy Reed                                                 9

9th Jake White                                                   7

10th Kyler Erickson                                          4

12th Tim Smallwood                                        3

3 Point Field goals Made-Senior

3rd Devin Patterson                                       46

5th Tim Smallwood                                        37

9th Jake White                                                 18

10th Kyler Erickson                                        17

15th Randy Reed                                                2

 

 

Summit League Predictions: Feb 10-13

I went 4-4 last week, and I have the confidence to go 2-6 this week.

If you’re wondering about my resume for predictions; I finished in the top 5% of ESPN brackets last season, so I’m kind of cool.  The worst my bracket has ever done was when I picked Kansas to win the whole thing and Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh hit a game winning shot to upset the Jayhawks.  Farokmanesh jogs on the same jogging path as me, and I have yet to scream at him, so I also have that going for me.

February 10th

South Dakota State (8-2) @ Omaha (7-4) on ESPN3

Badly want Omaha to be wrong on this game, it would be the biggest win they’ve had since transitioning to division one, but it is a really big challenge and Omaha would have to play nearly perfect.  The Omaha team we saw against Denver was far from perfect, and almost lost that game completely on fundamentals.  Omaha cannot win if Devin Patterson is 2-of-9, Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman are in foul trouble, and Randy Reed & Tim Smallwood are both hurt.

But hey, if Creighton can beat the # 5 team in the country on Tuesday, why can’t Omaha beat the # 45th-ish team in the country at home on Wednesday?

As much as South Dakota State has embarrassed Omaha since the transition, the Jacks are only a 3 point favorite tonight.

February 11th

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

Obi Emegano only played 20 minutes in their first meeting and ended up fouling out, and hearing that would make you think IUPUI won the game.  The Jaguars were out rebounded by 12 and gave up 10 threes, though.  The Golden Eagles are on a 5 game losing streak and do not appear to have any momentum going their way, but IUPUI also dropped their last 2 games.  Oral Roberts had guys step up, who normally don’t step up to beat IUPUI, can they really do that again?

Look, I just think IUPUI is an all around better team.  Do you want to fight about it?

North Dakota State (6-4) @ South Dakota (3-8)

North Dakota State narrowly beat the Coyotes in Fargo last month, and Coyotes are a bad match up for the Bison…especially if Paul Miller won’t be playing for NDSU.  The Coyotes are going to force teams to shoot threes, and although they have the worst defensive three point field goal percentage in the Summit, the Bison do not have a lot of guys that can consistently hit threes outside of Miller and AJ Jacobson.

Something I would like to randomly point out about Omaha: The Mavericks are no longer last in three point field goal percentage in conference games.  They are 7th above South Dakota and Western Illinois thanks to Omaha shooting 41% on threes over the last three games.

Yeah, I think North Dakota State is a better overall team.  I don’t want to fight about it.

Western Illinois (1-9) @ Denver (5-6)

Western Illinois still has some fight in them, but the Denver players are really getting the hang of their system.  Western Illinois has yet to beat Denver since the Pioneers joined the Summit, and they have lost by an average of 11 points.

February 13th

North Dakota State (6-4) @ Omaha (7-4)

A sweep of the Bison?  You homer, you!

Paul Miller missed NDSU’s last game with a knee injury, even if he plays, can he be nearly as dangerous on a bum knee?  The Bison will struggle to score without Miller.

Of course I say that the Bison will struggle without Miller like a complete jerk, after NDSU just beat IPFW by 16 in Fargo.  The ‘Dons were playing that game with basically 6 players, more evidence to stick out there that IPFW is the least equipped team, of the top 4 or 5 teams in the League, to play 3 games in the Summit League tournament.

South Dakota (3-8) @ South Dakota State (8-2) on ESPN3

The Coyotes have still yet to win in Brookings since both schools joined the Summit League, and South Dakota has lost in Brookings by an average of 18 points.

Denver (5-6) @ IPFW (8-3)

IPFW only beat Denver by one in Denver.  IPFW should actually not be heavily favored in this game, Denver won 2 upsets last week by a total of 5 points.  This game could be another big game for Max Landis, and the Denver slow pace could be really good for him to have an efficient game.

Western Illinois (1-9) @ Oral Roberts (3-6) on ESPN3

Got to say, I don’t feel that confident in Oral Roberts here.  The inconsistency of both of these teams is incredibly scary to really make a call.  I am still going with I just can’t see Obi Emegano letting Oral Roberts lose to his former school.

Maybe the Leathernecks can win again if they barely play JC Fuller like they did against Omaha.  The kid has an awful shot selection, and Billy Wright decided to play De’Angelo Bruster a bulk of the minutes.  Bruster did not make any shots, but he only took 3, and he got his teammates involved and made some really good decisions on the court as a freshman.

SDSU and NDSU should make for an important week for Omaha

Currently sitting tied at third in the Summit League, the Mavericks have the most important week that they have had since transitioning to division one.

It feels like crowds at both games should be bigger than normal this week.  A big crowd on a Wednesday might seem unlikely, but there are a decent number of South Dakota State alums that live in the Omaha area, and they all act like the Jackrabbits are the Spurs.  The Jackrabbit fans did declare Omaha as the “most dangerous” Summit League team, so we have that to hold onto. Omaha’s attendance has been up this season, for a number of reasons, but they have already surpassed the amount of fans that they had all of last season.  The Mavericks are currently averaging about 2050 fans per game, and they averaged nearly 1350 last season at the Ralston Arena.  The Mavericks averaged an attendance of 1970 in the three games that the Jackrabbits played at the Ralston Arena, so perhaps with more on the line this week, the Mavericks can have one of the biggest attendance weeks they’ve ever had in basketball…or at least since transition.  There is no Creighton game on Wednesday, and Nebraska is at Wisconsin, so there really could be more Omahans playing attention to this game than normal.

Not many teams have done well when facing the Jackrabbits and Bison in the same week over the past few seasons, and now the Mavericks unfortunately have to face that schedule after dropping two winnable games last week. There is obviously some pressure for the Mavs to do well here.  Losing two straight games made this week a must win week.  Omaha dropped 30 spots in RPI after dropping those two games last week. Starting off at 7-1 in the conference, and then dropping 3-of-4 games is certainly like watching the first half of a season of The Walking Dead, getting super jacked, and then sitting through 4 episodes where 75% of each episode is awful and you just want to get to the good stuff.

If the Mavs win (especially) Wednesday and Saturday , they still hold a chance to win the regular season title, and if they lose…well then.  The Mavericks have not done well against South Dakota State since transitioning to division one, only winning 1 game.  In fact, in the 6 losses to the Jackrabbits, SDSU has shot 51% from the field and Omaha has shot 38% from the field.  Omaha has also lost those 6 games by an average of 17 points.  The last time South Dakota State came to Omaha, the Mavericks shot 27% from the floor in the game.  I remember feeling confident about the Mavericks going into that game, but a few minutes into the second half made me want to take up a stress relieving hobby.  Like brewing my own craft beers, or just drinking craft beers…okay the drinking craft beers was in my wheelhouse all along.

The good news for Omaha is that road teams do not do very well in conference games on Wednesdays in the Summit League.  This season so far, road teams are 0-5 on Wednesday in conference games, and last year they were 3-9…but South Dakota State did have one of those wins; a 2 point win at Western Illinois last season.  Summit League players must just be upset that they have to wait for 2 Broke Girls, or Arrow.  Jurassic Park 3 is on TV this Wednesday night.  Okay, maybe the crowd wont be that big with that kind of competition.

The Mavericks are going to need senior guard Devin Patterson to step up on Wednesday.  Do you have a garbage can nearby?  Patterson in his last three games against South Dakota State has shot 24% from the field and 0-of-8 on threes.  The Jacks were able to, not stop but, contain the Mavericks penetration and ability to get to the line on the 28th.  Patterson might be the fastest player in the Summit League, although De’Angelo Bruster of Western Illinois is pretty damn fast, but he has had trouble with George Marshall and Deondre Parks, and he needs to penetrate and get to the line on Wednesday night.  Anything to force one of South Dakota State’s Big 3 to the line.

I mention these shooting woes in hopes of maybe reversing a jinx.  Patterson in his career against North Dakota State was pretty poor before the start of this season.  I mentioned weeks ago that in order for the Mavericks to beat the Bison in Fargo, that they would need Patterson to play better.  In 4 career games, he shot 22% from the field 21% on threes against the Bison, but he one of the better games of his career a few weeks ago going 11-of-14 from the field with 32 points; and the Mavericks were able to pick up their first win in Fargo.  The Mavericks need that Patterson on Wednesday night.

Patterson needs help though.  Tra-Deon Hollins has to step up a notch defensively with Patterson to help contain Marshall and Parks.  He only had 2 steals against South Dakota State.  It is good and sad that I said “he only had 2 steals.”  Marshall and Parks combined for 50 points and 19-of-25 from the floor in Brookings on the 28th.  It’s not like Jake Bittle should be ignored either.  In Omaha last year, Bittle went 7-of-7 from the floor with 21 points and 7 rebounds.  Oh, and the Jacks are 15-2 with Bittle in the lineup, and 4-3 without him in the lineup…so yes, he is important.

The Jacks are not quite as good as normal on the road, but the Mavericks are also probably slightly better on the road themselves than they are at home.  The Jacks lost at IUPUI and at North Dakota State, both games were without Bittle, but the Bison just absolutely embarrassed the Jackrabbits in Fargo.

The Mavericks have to play smart as a whole to pickup a win against South Dakota State.  They cannot have the missed dunks and layups, and the bad fouls, and the dumb turnovers against the Jacks; like they did against Denver.  The Jacks best lineup of Mike Daum, Reed Tellinghuisen, Bittle, and Parks really makes smart passes on the floor together, and every single one can knock down threes.  Tellinghuisen has struggled a bit this season, and he did well against the Mavericks last season, but he should be matched up mostly with Tre’Shawn Thurman on Wednesday night.  Thurman needs to attack Tellinghuisen, who appears to be the least confident looking player on the Jacks.

Then there is North Dakota State.  The Mavericks’ win in Fargo a few weeks ago is probably the best win that they have had since transitioning to division one, and the Bison struggle on the road with a 1-3 road record in Summit League games.  But the Mavericks just dropped two games to Western Illinois and Denver, and North Dakota State is not a team that should be taken lightly.

AJ Jacobson, last week, finally looked like the All Conference player he was predicted to be at the start of the season.  Jacobson averaged 21 points and 5.5 rebounds, going 15-of-23 from the floor and 9-of-15 on threes, in two games last week against Oral Roberts and IPFW, both at home.  Before that, he had really been struggling and it was questionable if he would even be named to the Honorable Mention Team in the Summit…well it’s still in question, but you get the idea.

North Dakota State’s defense was known for being very stingy last season, but they could only force the Mavericks to 8 turnovers on the 28th, and they had no answer for Devin Patterson.  The Mavericks also hold an advantage down low against the Bison.  Jake White had 17 points and 7 rebounds against the Bison and Thurman had 16 points and 9 rebounds against the front line of North Dakota State…which is banged up and undersized.

Still, whatever officials the Summit League puts in Omaha appear to be out to get White and Thurman.  Every home game I feel like the Mav fans are going to have to put in money for a bailout fund to collectively put together money to bail an entire arena out of the slammer for an altercation with referees. s

Randy Reed did not play last week with concussion symptoms, and Tim Smallwood appeared to be playing through some pain.  The Bison played without their leading scorer this season, Paul Miller, who sat out with a knee injury, and it is undetermined when he will be back at this point.

This week could really affect how the Mavericks finish.  They could end up in the top half of the seedings, and potentially even in the lower half of the seedings after this week.  So, no pressure at all.


Looking at the schedule this week and the standings…

  1. South Dakota State plays @ 7-4 Omaha and in Brookings against 3-8 South Dakota
  2. IPFW plays in Fort Wayne against  5-6 Denver
  3. Omaha plays in Omaha against 8-2 South Dakota State and 6-4 North Dakota State
  4. IUPUI plays @ 3-8 Oral Roberts
  5. North Dakota State plays @ 3-8 South Dakota and @ 7-4 Omaha
  6. Denver plays at home against 1-9 Western Illinois and @ 8-3 IPFW

 

Omaha Mavs and SDSU Jacks reading materials

I know there is a chunk of UNO students that will be making their way to the South Dakota town known for holding Daktronics, and having a pretty decent Applebee’s; and that is pretty great but I wanted to throw some reading material out there…even though I am sure no students ever actually ready this.


Here are a few things you should know if you are just a casual fan and you do not follow much into this, or if you are just trying to impress some dude or…whatever.

These are supposed to be points that make you feel good…kind of like you are watching a Andy Dwyer greatest hits compilation…or like the happiness you will receive after your buddy introduces you to Kung Fury…a half hour film based on a police officer who became a Kung Fu master after being bitten by a cobra and being struck by lightning at the same time.

Kung-Fury-Poster-01
Everything you will ever need in a film is in this poster.
  • Ideally, I guess, a teams goal is to at least split their road games; and Omaha is already 4-0 on the road this season in league play…so they could lose the rest of their road games and still have split on the road.
  • 2 of the 4 road wins were against teams Omaha had never beaten since transitioning to division one: North Dakota State and Oral Roberts
  • The road win against Denver was the first time the Mavericks had beaten the Pioneers in Denver.  The Mavericks beat Denver by 14, which is the 2nd highest margin Denver has been defeated by at home this season.
  • Omaha currently has the 2nd leading scorer in the Summit League, Devin Patterson…and the 2nd best rebounder, Tre’Shawn Thurman…and the assist leader, Tra-Deon Hollins…and 2nd leading shot blocker, Tre’Shawn Thurman, and the nation’s leader in steals, Tra-Deon Hollins…Devin Patterson is also 2nd in the conference in steals…Hollins is also second in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio
  • In league play, Omaha leads the Summit League in points per game, actually they are tied with Fort Wayne…they commit the least amount of fouls…they have the most steals in the conference…the Mavericks lead the conference in free throws attempted and are 2nd behind Denver in free throw percentage…they also lead the conference in field goal percentage…the Mavericks are also 2nd in the league so far in defensive three point field goal percentage, which is great because they gave up the most three point field goals in the conference last season

The Mavericks have been tested on the road so far this season and had some close wins, and close losses, against good teams.  This game could be the biggest test that Omaha has faced so far…ever since joining the Summit League.  Matt Zimmer, of Argus Leader, said that Omaha may in first, but they are the team with more to prove here.  He is absolutely correct.

Yes, the Mavericks were able to beat North Dakota State at home this season with the Bison on a 31 game home winning streak, but they came up close against the Bison in each of their two meetings last season, losing by 3 and 7.  The Mavs beat Oral Roberts, who is known historically for being one of the best teams in the Summit League, but the Golden Eagles are in a down year…even with the conference’s leading scorer.  This is South Dakota State, who has built themselves up to be the team to beat in the Summit over the last few years.  One of the teams the Mavericks have been trying to build themselves up to be ever since transition, and the Mavericks have lost a few recruiting battles to the Jacks since the transition.  Mike Daum and Reed Tellinghuisen both had offers from the Mavericks, and I believe Skyler Flatten and Ian Theisen both had “interest” from Omaha.

I am not sure if it is time for either of these teams to look ahead into the seedings of the Summit League tournament, but first place in the conference standings is on the line here.  There is still a lot to play out, but South Dakota should finish somewhere between 6th and 8th in the final standings in the conference; and neither Omaha or South Dakota State want to be matched up against the Coyotes in the first round of the Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls.

The Mavericks were able to pick up a win in Brookings in 2014, the same weekend North Dakota State beat the Jackrabbits in Brookings, and I am pretty sure that is the last time South Dakota State lost at home.  Since that game the Mavericks have lost to the Jackrabbits three straight times by an average of 19 points per game.  Since that weekend, the Jackrabbits have won all of their conference home games by an average of 19 points, and the closest a team as come was Denver by 9 in February of 2014.  There were actually some narrow margins of victory of North Dakota State in their home winning streak.

The Jackrabbits are 16-5 this season, but they have been beat up with injuries.  Wisconsin transfer, Preseason Summit League First Teamer, and 2014-2015 2nd Team All Summit League player, George Marshall, missed 6 games this season and the Jackrabbits with 4-2 in his absence.  Preseason Summit League First Teamer and 2014-2015 Summit League Honorable Mention player, Jake Bittle, missed 8 games and the Jackrabbits went 4-4 without him on the court.  Bittle also missed 9 games in his sophomore season and the Jackrabbits went 4-5 without him in the lineup.  Other than these guys being out, 6’6″ sophomore, Skyler Flatten, has been out all year so far, but is expected to come back at some point.  Flatten averaged 3.2 points per game in his freshman season, but he saw his minutes go down once George Marshall became eligible.

The Jackrabbits have only played 7 games (not including non-division one opponents) with their big three of Bittle, Marshall, and Parks all playing together in the same game.  Their only loss with all three of them was on the road to UMKC.  Their big three are known for being good three point shooters, and the Jackrabbits do have guys around them that can knock down threes, but the Jackrabbits are currently 6th in the Summit League in three point field goal percentage at 35.7% overall.  When Bittle, Marshall, and Parks are all in the lineup the Jackrabbits shoot around 40% from three, which would be 2nd in the conference.  Omaha is 1-2 this season when their opponent shoots above 40% from three.

Omaha may be the worst three point shooting team in the league, but Hollins has improved as the year has gone along, going 6-of-11 in the last four games…at one point he was shooting 15% on threes.  The Mavericks, however, play more so to penetrate and get to the basket and force the other team to foul.  They are currently 10th in division one in free throw attempts per game, and on top of that are 24th in free throw percentage.  On the reverse of that, South Dakota State commit the most fouls in the league.

George Marshall was back in time to start off conference play, but Bittle just back last week and the Jackrabbits went 2-0 on the road, at Oral Roberts and South Dakota, with him back in the lineup.  This was combined with head coach, Scott Nagy, calling out his team for not having any toughness; so there was probably some added motivation by the team to pick up 2 road wins to show their coach wrong.

The Mavericks biggest deficiency last season was defending three point shooting, and mostly just being able to guard wing players.  The team fixed this by signing Tra-Deon Hollins.  Seriously, if there was a All Summit League Tough as Nails Team, Hollins would be first team.  No other team has one defender on their roster that intimidates their guards and wing players nearly as much…on top of that his back court teammate, Patterson, is 2nd in the league in steals.

Going into the season, the Jackrabbits were mostly worried about who they were going to play at the center position.  Freshman Mike Daum has filled the role quite nicely averaging 13.4 points and 6 rebounds per game in 19 minutes per game…he has had 20 or more minutes in the last 6 games.  Has he had to face a post player combo like Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman yet?  Probably not.

I know that Omaha has more to prove in this game, but this game has to be more important to South Dakota State.  Their coach recently called them out for faking toughness, and their team was one shot away from the NCAA tournament a season ago.  No team in the league will lose as much as the Jackrabbits going into next season.  Their seniors combine for 48 points per game, and there could always be someone who transfers out.  Omaha will lose Patterson (and White, Reed, Smallwood, and Erickson), but they will get Marcus Tyus back to play alongside Tra-Deon Hollins in the back court next season…and they get to add Mitchell Hahn after sitting out from transferring.

If the Jackrabbits win this game, there could potentially be a 4 way tie for first…but if they lose they could potentially be 4th or 5th in the standings in the conference…

 

 

 

Omaha and IPFW might not be so different

I made some precarious preseason rankings for the Summit League in October, and I placed IPFW at 7th in the league with a range of 5 to 7 conference wins.  I am beginning to feel pretty dumb about this.

The Mastadons are currently 14-5 and are being regarded as one of the teams to currently beat in the conference.  I somehow held just an incredible amount of bias and unjustified hatred for the ‘Dons.   I am not even sure where it came from.  I would like to throw this out in there air though.  The ‘Dons are beating the teams that they need to beat, but they have yet to really have a win to brag about or even a We Were So Close to an Upset loss.

The ‘Dons have lost by 14 at Valparaiso; by 22 versus Navy; by 17 at Utah; and by 25 at Indiana.  Denver is the only team with a winning record (over Division One opponents) that IPFW has beaten at this point.  Preseason, I predicted that IPFW would start off 3-0 in the Summit League and drop the next three against South Dakota State, Omaha, and North Dakota State.  I sit here and point out the negatives of their non-conference schedule, but their strength of schedule RPI is 227 to Omaha’s 232…so I should shut my mouth on that.  Regardless of their schedule, they are still winning these games.

I gave some flack to Jon Coffman, but he sounds like a super excited man when he discusses IPFW and the Summit League, and he loves his job.  Almost as excited as Tommy Callahan Jr got when he discussed really cool brake pads.  He and his staff pride themselves on recruiting to their system and getting players who play their brand of unselfish basketball.

I was mainly giving flack to Coffman on how excited he was for his newcomers and the improvement of some of his returning players.  He was pretty ecstatic about freshman John Konchar, and that appears to be validated.  Coffman and the ‘Dons were touting the improvement of forward Brent Calhoun for losing almost 60 pounds since last season.  The first stretch of the season, Calhoun was constantly in foul trouble and could not keep up with team’s fast pace and looked as if he would be a practice player at more than half of the Summit League schools.  Calhoun did have a stretch of three games to start off 2016 with 12.7 ppg and 4.3 rpg and shot 17-of-18 from the floor.  Those three games were against Purdue-University North Central, South Dakota, and Denver.  I have no idea who that Purdue school is, but South Dakota and Denver are not quick teams like South Dakota State and Omaha.  Calhoun had 4 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes against the Jackrabbits last night, and is not expected to be a huge factor against Omaha.

A core of newcomers the ‘Dons were salivating over were Andrew Poulter, Racine Talla, and DeAngelo Stewart.  Poulter is a 6’11” junior who came to IPFW via junior college and started his career at Arkansas-Little Rock.  I don’t want to go back and look up Poulter’s numbers in junior college, but I remember laughing at his field goal and free throw percentages.    Poulter has played in 9 games in garbage time and shot 44% from the field.  Talla is a 6’9″ and 195 pound post player who transferred from USC Upstate, but also was at a junior college when being deemed ineligible to play there.  Talla has shot 25% from the field so far on the year, which maybe is not bad for a guy who did not play competitive basketball for 2 years.  Stewart is a 6’6″ wing player who also came from a junior college, but started his career at Alabama State.  There were several people that thought Stewart was going to be the Newcomer of the Year in the Summit League.  Stewart, like many junior college transfers, has had an inconsistent year averaging 5.6 ppg and shooting 38% from the field, but the ‘Dons are 5-0 when Stewart scores in double figures.


 

The match ups between Omaha for their crunch time line ups really sound comparable on paper…

Joe Reed, 6’8″, Sr – 10.6 ppg/4.4 rpg/1.3 apg/53 fg%/53 ft%/27 3pt%

John Konchar, 6’5″, Fr – 11.9 /7.9 /2.3   /57/72/42

Michael Calder, 6’2″, Sr – 7.1/3.4/2.0/   36/57/34

Max Landis, 6’2″, Sr – 15.4/2.6/3.1   45/78/47

Mo Evans, 6’0″, Jr – 16.9/3.7/5.1   48/85/43*

vs

Jake White, 6’8″ Sr – 16.0/6.2/0.4   57/82/42

Tre’Shawn Thurman, 6’7″, So – 14.4/7.4/1.3   52/68/22

Tim Smallwood, 6’2″, Sr – 5.7/2.4/0.6   39/64/32

Tra-Deon Hollins, 6’2″ Jr – 10.7/4.1/5.6   43/73/21

Devin Patterson, 5’11, Sr – 17.7/2.4/2.8   46/78/35

*I typed all of this, and found out that Evans will be out for the year due to an academic issue.


 

As even as these teams appear to be, the match up could really come down to what “other guys” can step up in the game on Saturday.  As mentioned, IPFW is 5-0 when Stewart scores in double figures.  Omaha, though, is 5-1 when Tim Smallwood scores in double figures, and that one loss is to Colorado.  Omaha is also 2-0 when Zach Jackson scores in double figures.

As even as these teams appear, they differ noticeably in two areas.  IPFW is 14th in the country in three point field goal percentage with 40.3% from three, and 16th in the country in three point field goals made per game with 10 per game.  Almost half of the team’s points comes from three point field goals.  Omaha is last in the Summit League in three point field goal percentage with 30.1% and they have made the least three point field goals in the league…which makes sense.  Omaha is 4th in the league overall in defensive three point field goal percentage, which is great because last year they were in 8th in that category.

Omaha is currently 39th in the country in free throw percentage at 73.7%, and the Mavericks have made the 4th most in the country per game with a touch over 20 per game.  IPFW is last in the Summit in free throw percentage, and they finished 9th in the Summit in 2014-2015.  The ‘Dons do however only pick up 16 fouls per game, which is 2nd in the Summit League behind North Dakota State, who had 23 fouls against Omaha.

This game should be a really fun game to watch, but it would be extremely difficult to come back from 15 down on the ‘Dons with their 3 point shooting and as many weapons that they have (in comparison to Western Illinois and South Dakota).  As I type this, I see that Mo Evans is out for the year, which is clearly a blow to the ‘Dons.  Evans was on pace to be a 1st Team All Summit League player, and possibly the Summit League Preseason Player of the Year in 2016-2017.  I hate it when it when your favorite teams pick up wins when the best player of the opposing team is out (not that this guarantees Omaha the win).  It is difficult to drop 17 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists a game and make that up quickly.  IPFW lost by 16 in a game to South Dakota State last night without Evans.  The ‘Dons still have Joe Reed, John Konchar, and Max Landis as a Big 3, which is better than some other teams’ Big 3 in the Summit.  Landis has made the 7th most three point field goals in D-1.

 

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