North Dakota State versus IUPUI preview

It may not be so likely for Western Illinois to score a Saturday upset in the Summit League tournament, but it may be possible for IUPUI to live some March Madness glory.

Ever since the Jaguars became serious, every game between IUPUI and North Dakota State has come down to wire except for their meeting in the conference tournament last season, a game that IUPUI’s leading scorer over the last two years Darell Combs did not play in.

Seven teams in this conference have a legitimate argument for winning this tournament, and you got to like IUPUI’s chances in this one…just a little.  This is like watching two of your friends going after the affection of the same girl, but one of your friends has a good job and his life pretty much together, while the other cannot hold down a job, barely showers, and is one bad financial decision away from moving back in with his parents.  This pal doesn’t really do anything great, but he just kind of exists and keeps chugging along in life. While you’re watching this play out, you like the second friend’s chances and you really don’t have that great of a reason.

The Bison have a systematic offense designed to find the best shot.  Their coaches preach quality decision making.  They showed last year that they live for moments like the Summit League Tournament.  North Dakota State is your friend that shows up to the party in a dress shirt and a pair of khakis.

The Jaguars play more chaotic.  Players are taking ill-advised shots.  A majority of the players appear lost on defense at times.  IUPUI is your pal that shows up to the party in a shirt that says Slacker across the chest and jeans with holes they have owned since they were in high school.  It’s possible they were hand me downs.

Your unorganized pal appears to have something up his sleeve.  Sure, he isn’t going to win the affection of the girl talking about how he just wreaked havoc on 200 zombies in some video game with a Mature rating earlier that day, but he is going to win on his personality and heart.  As much of his life appears to be in disarray, this pal is still the life of the party. That’s not to say your organized friend doesn’t have any heart, but your unorganized pal is willing to lay everything on the table for a shot at this.

The Jaguars lost to the Bison last year in the first round of the tournament without their leading scorer Darell Combs.  They struggled to find any offense in that game, and ended up only scoring 45 points.  It was one of the toughest Summit League games to watch all of last year.  Now, as far as we can tell, Combs will be in the lineup and he will be with his back court teammate Kellon Thomas, who averaged over 11 points per game in the Summit League this year.  The Jaguars have to have a sour taste in their mouth over their early exit from the tournament last season, so it must be a nice feeling to have the same team that ousted them last season.

IUPUI is not going to shoot 29 percent again in the tournament this season.  They have a senior point guard, they have a senior shooting guard, they have a senior post player that can stretch the defense, and they have high energy guys off the bench.  The Jaguars were playing like a team that needed to build chemistry all year, and it was coming together more and more all season.

I’m not saying that IUPUI is a lock in this game, just pointing out that they actually have a chance.  There is not separation from the 2 seed to the 7 seed in this conference.  The 7-9 record for the Jaguars is the best winning percentage for a 7 seed in the Summit League since 2011.  The Jaguars match up well with the Bison, and it shows as biggest point differential in their regular season meetings was a 5 point overtime win for IUPUI earlier this season.

Even with Combs in the lineup, he has struggled against the Bison in his 2 years at IUPUI.  Combs has averaged 15 points per game against the Bison, which isn’t too far off his career average at IUPUI, but he has shot 36 percent from the field versus North Dakota State against his 42 percent career average.  He has averaged 3.5 turnovers against the Bison in 2 years, but had 10 turnovers in 2 games this season against NDSU.

On the other end, North Dakota State is the best in the conference at taking care of the basketball.  They only averaged 10 turnovers a game against the Summit League, and only turned the ball over 18 times total in two games against IUPUI.

A key match up could be the two benches for the teams.  There was a total of 50 fouls called in their first meeting with each other this season, which is going to happen when the game is so close and someone is trying to put the other on the foul line to get back into the game late.

Evan Hall and Dexter Werner is a great match up off the bench.  Werner has made his career of being the best post player to come off the bench and create instant energy for his team.  Hall can muscle Werner out of the post and bother him just enough to counter that energy.  In addition to Hall, the Jaguars have Ron Patterson to come off the bench and make big plays on offense, and the Bison do not really have a guard to match off the bench, but Paul Miller will be fine if he can stay out of foul trouble.

The Bison are going to have to play their well disciplined style of basketball, and not let IUPUI’s chaos take over the game.  Otherwise the pal with holes in his jeans is going to get the girl’s gamer tag and be killing zombies online.

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.

Summit League predictions: Jan 4-7

I went 5-3 last week, which is bad.  I expect to go like 2-6 this week.  After Western Illinois upset Fort Wayne, it’s just like…what makes sense anymore?  It’s not a big deal.

January 4

South Dakota State (1-1) @ Western Illinois (1-1)

I just got back to Nebraska on Monday and had a full day of work on Tuesday.  I am still on West Coast time, so I get it if you think I am delirious with this pick.  Who saw Western Illinois beating Fort Wayne last week?  Like, maybe 5 people and they were all involved with the Western Illinois men’s basketball team.  The Leathernecks shot 56 percent in that win.  That’s the same weird inconsistency that the Leathernecks had last year.  They could shoot lights out one night, and then shoot 25 percent as a team a few nights later with one of their forwards ending up in jail.

South Dakota State is still having a few issues on defense, and while the Leathernecks do not really have anyone who can even contest Mike Daum, they are set up in defensive match ups to bother everyone else for the Jackrabbits.

If you are curious: The Leathernecks have not defeated the Jackrabbits since 2009.

Fort Wayne (1-1) @ Omaha (0-2)

After dropping their first two conference games, the first Summit League home game of the year is an incredibly important game for the Mavericks.

There is going to be a lot of offense in this game, so the Mavericks defense will be incredibly important.

Omaha almost won the game in Baxter Arena last year, but the Mavericks had a poor turnover in the last minute, which allowed Fort Wayne to score in the final seconds to win the game.  On offense, Omaha will really need to limit the dumb turnovers, and play 40 minutes of quality basketball.  Knowing how the game ended last year, the Mavericks should really be ready for the chance to make things right against the ‘Dons this season.

Can you believe Omaha has the highest RPI in the Summit League?  Yeah, I’m impressed too.

South Dakota (1-1) @ Denver (1-0)

Okay, so home teams on Wednesday nights had a great winning percentage last season in the Summit League, so if you don’t notice a pattern yet…well I’m lazy.

South Dakota can keep Denver out of the paint, but that’s not really a problem for Denver who has the second highest three point percentage in the conference.  Daniel Amigo (14.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg) may be limited in this game, but expect the thirty-five shooting guards for Denver to have big games.

January 5

IUPUI (1-0) @ North Dakota State (2-0) on ESPN3

Both home team won the regular season match ups between these two games last season, and they were both great finishes.  Then the Bison beat the Jaguars by 15 in the Summit League tournament.

Dexter Werner is averaging 14.1 points and and 11 rebounds over the last 7 games.  The Jaguars can give Werner a few different looks, but expect Werner to control the paint and get the ball out to all the Bison guards to control the tempo and pace of the game.

January 7

Oral Roberts (0-2)Western Illinois (1-1)

I’m still in shock about the Leathernecks beating Fort Wayne.  Both of these teams are incredibly inconsistent.  I honestly went back and forth on this.  The Leathernecks have already dropped home games to Southeast Missouri State, Eastern Illinois, and Chicago State.  The Golden Eagles keep almost winning on the road, and with more rest than Western Illinois, could fight for a win to end their three game road swing.

IUPUI (1-0) @ South Dakota (1-1) on ESPN 3

Darell Combs could have a big game in Vermillion, but the game is a bad match up on the road for the Jaguars.

Omaha (0-2) @ South Dakota State (1-1) on ESPN3

Yes, I am a homer.  This game seems to be an important for each team getting back on track.  The Jackrabbits do not have much of an offense when Mike Daum goes to the bench.  Tre’Shawn Thurman is one of few players in the Summit can that match up with Daum defensively, and give him a bit of a bother.  Reed Tellinghuisen has been struggling this season, shooting 36 percent from the field, but seems to always turn it on against Omaha.  I’ve reached my limit of negative things to say about the Jackrabbits.  Anymore, and their fans will find me on Twitter and tell me about how much of a waste land the city of Omaha is.

The guards for South Dakota State haven’t been fantastic defensively, so Tra-Deon Hollins and Marcus Tyus can hopefully penetrate and attack the basket and have big games to lead the Mavericks to a win.

Denver (1-0) @ Fort Wayne (1-1)

Another game that should be mostly offense.  Denver can keep the game close with their shooting, and slightly more depth, but Fort Wayne has just a wee bit more defense at the guard position to get Denver off of their game.

Summit League predictions: Dec 28-31

I am sick on vacation, I am 2 hours behind in Oregon, and my in-laws are nuts.  Hopefully, this will make some sense.  It’s hard to pick between many of these teams because the non-conference schedule can have so many out liars, with some teams hardly playing any competition in November and December and Oral Roberts and Omaha having tougher schedules.

Oral Roberts strength of schedule RPI is currently ranked 10th in division one, and Omaha’s is ranked 88th.

December 28th

North Dakota State @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

Normally, I would probably just go with the home team in this match up.  The Jackrabbits have been pretty lackluster on defense this season, and the Bison weave offense will frustrate the Jackrabbits the entire game.  The Jackrabbits have appeared to get better and better as their team gets more time to gel together, but it seems to take a while for them to get into a rhythm each game.  If the Bison have a decent enough lead late in the game, their style of play will limit the amount of possessions that South Dakota State has to get back into the game.

The Bison may or may not have anyone who can stop Mike Daum, but who does?  Perhaps Dexter Werner and Deng Geu can give him different defensive looks for 40 minutes to bother him enough to get him just a little bit off of him game.

Oral Roberts @ Denver

This is actually kind of a good match up.  Daniel Amigo head-to-head with AJ Owens could be fun.  Jalen Bradley head-to-head with Joe Rosga should be fun.  Emmanuel Nzekwesi head-to-head with CJ Bobbit can be good.  Denver does have a bit more depth than Oral Roberts, and can run the Golden Eagles out of Denver.

Oral Roberts played the toughest non-conference schedule out of all the Summit League teams, so playing the Pioneers may seem like nothing to them.  However, the Golden Eagles are not a great defensive team, and the Pioneers have shown to be a solid team offensively.

December 29th

Western Illinois @ Fort Wayne

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Omaha @ South Dakota on ESPN3

The Coyotes are 6-0 at home.  Omaha has won in Vermillion two straight years, and swept South Dakota last season.

The Mavericks will be one of the deepest teams the Coyotes have faced at home, and while the Coyotes will be able to force Omaha to outside shots, that wont bother them too much now.  If the three point shooters for Omaha can knock down shots, they should be having a good night.  That Thurman-Hahn-Gibson-Tyus-Hollins lineup should create some points and start a good run of the Mavericks.

December 31st

Western Illinois @ IUPUI on ESPN3

It has to be pretty difficult to be the road team on a day like New Year’s Eve for college students.  The game is noon, though, so maybe Western Illinois will just be excited to get out of Indianapolis as soon as possible to head back to Macomb.

South Dakota @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

The Jackrabbits opening up the Summit League with two straight home losses…have I gone mad?

This game is incredibly important to both teams, but the Coyotes have been thinking of this game far longer than the Jackrabbits.  I mean, probably, right?

South Dakota has shown to be good enough at defense to keep themselves in games.

The Coyotes really don’t have anyone who can keep up with Mike Daum, and especially for 40 minutes.  Daum may have 40 points in this game, but maybe only one other guy can crack double figures.

The Coyotes may just let Mike Daum try to beat them on his own, which is a strategy other teams have gone with and been successful with.

Oral Roberts @ Fort Wayne 

What a rough start to the conference for Oral Roberts, travel wise.  They start out at Denver, and then head to Fort Wayne to play the Mastodons after the Mastodons pretty much get an open practice against Western Illinois.

Omaha @ North Dakota State

The Bison could be seeking a little revenge after Omaha came in last season and ended North Dakota State’s home winning streak.  The Bison are one of the better defensive teams in the Summit League this season, and their style of play is one that has bothered the Mavericks over the last couple of seasons.

Omaha did sweep the Bison last season, but if you recall: The Bison were playing without their leading scorer, Paul Miller, in Omaha and AJ Jacobson was in foul trouble for most of the game.

The Tre’Shawn Thurman versus AJ Jacobson has been fun to watch over the last couple of years, but the match up to see this year could be Zach Jackson versus Paul Miller.

 

The Bison should roam the Summit again in 2017

So did you think the North Dakota State Bison men’s basketball team overachieved or underachieved in 2015-2016?  They finished 5th in the Summit League (after being picked 2nd by most people), but they had a fair amount of injuries (maybe even most in the Summit), and they were able to make it to the Summit League championship again.

The Bison are only graduating Kory Brown (10.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 apg) and Chris Kading (3.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg), so they will be returning 4 starters to their lineup.  On top of that they will be returning their top bench player, Dexter Werner, so on paper so far it sounds as if they can be at least good enough to return to the top half of the Summit League.

With three shooting guards committed, the Bison have one scholarship still open; and they are not a basketball program that really seeks out a lot of transfers from bigger schools or junior colleges.  After losing Lawrence Alexander, the team really prided themselves on replacing his 19 points per game with the guys they already had on their team.  Next Guy Up: I believe was their slogan.  Paul Miller boosted himself from 6.7 points per game his freshman season to 15.3 points per game into his second season.  Brown increased his scoring by 2 points, AJ Jacobson by 1 point, and the team did add sophomore Malik Clements (okay, I lied he came from a junior college) who averaged 6.3 points per game…so they were able to make up the scoring lost by Alexander.

The team can replace the 13.6 points per game that they are losing easier than they can make up the 19 points per game they lost from the year before.  It’s not really about just replacing x amount of points…you cannot just replace Val Kilmer (an average Batman) with George Clooney (terrible Batman) and expect to make a good movie.  Not that Batman Forever was great, but it wasn’t Kilmer’s fault.  Point is, I think, Brown and Kading did more than just score points.  They brought smart play when they needed it.  Losing smart players who bring defense and make big shots right when you need them can be a big loss for a team.  But…next guy up, I suppose.  When the Bison were at Omaha without Paul Miller, and AJ Jacobson was in foul trouble; Chris Kading and Kory Brown took the moment to just do more than scoring.

Chris Kading’s defense was really bothering Tre’Shawn Thurman for a stretch in that game.  Kading ended that game with 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks; but also every shot he made were instrumental to mounting a comeback for the Bison.  In the second half of the game, Jacobson was brought back in, as was Jake White for Omaha, and Jacobson couldn’t guard White or Thurman.  He couldn’t defend anyone driving to the basket, which is what helped Omaha from letting the Bison get the comeback win.  For a Bison fan, it was probably as sad as I was watching Batman & Robin.

It sounds as if the Bison are going to attempt to replace Kading’s production with their redshirt freshman Deng Geu.  Geu (it’s pronounced GOO) is 6’8″ with a lot of hop.  He said that the Bison wanted to add an outside shot to his game, so they are hoping to making him a shot blocking-jump shooting center who can get 2nd chance opportunities on the offensive end, so they want him to be Kading.  That’s what is odd, or special, or whatever, about Dave Richman, is that he is going to try and do the exact same thing offensively every single game.  Just run this stupid weave offense with the exact same pieces of the puzzle game after game.  Okay, it’s a successful plan obviously, but I would think it would get figured out after a few runs through the Summit League.

I thought the Bison were the anomaly of the Summit League this year.  Lots of injuries in the off season and regular season.  They are a pretty undersized basketball team, and also pretty slow for an undersized basketball team.  Malik Clements was listed at 6’3″ and 210 pounds, but he looked more like an unhealthy 230 pounds.  Players left the team at semester.  Carlin Dupree leaves the team in January over a dispute in playing time, and then comes back a month later just suddenly accepting that Khy Kabellis is better for the team as a starter. They had just a completely unwatchable game against IUPUI in the first round of the Summit League tournament, the way they played, anyone else in the Summit could have beaten them that day.  Paul Miller, the team’s leading scorer, was suspended for breaking team rules and could not play in their 2nd round game of the Summit League tournament.  Carlin Dupree, the same guy who was pissy about playing time two months ago, got the start to replace Miller against IPFW and scored 22 and 6 rebounds and hits timely shot after timely shot to lead the Bison over the top team in the Summit.  Dupree really bothered Max Landis in that game as well, if Paul Miller would have played more minutes in that game over Dupree, the ‘Dons may have actually won that game.  They then lost by 8 to South Dakota State, who maybe should not have been in the championship game the way they played against Denver and Oral Roberts, but damn it the Jackrabbits did it and played a really good game against Maryland in the NCAA tournament.  After this, the Bison didn’t get a trip the CIT, and I assume turned down a trip to the Vegas Mistaketeen.

All of this is why the Bison will probably be picked in the top 3 in the preseason rankings for the Summit.  These weird series of events, and the fact that they will be led next season by Dexter Werner and AJ Jacobson, who are the two most consistent players in the Summit League…though like stated, everything that the Bison do is based on doing the same thing over and over.  I’m sure if you played Texas Hold em with Dave Richman, he would be the guy that only bets to get in a hand if he has a pocket pair.

 

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.

 

 

The laziest of Summit League semi final previews

I’m just, eh, I just want to, ugh… Okay, I am bitter right now.  I guess the Summit League tournament will still go on?


IPFW and North Dakota State

The last time IPFW and North Dakota State met, the Bison held the ‘Dons to a season low 46 points and 28% from the field.  The Bison were also without their leading scorer, Paul Miller.

The Mastodons may have the advantage of an extra day of rest, but the Bison are not a great match up for IPFW.  For the best IPFW offensive players, North Dakota State has a great defender to counter that player.  Joe Reed will be defended by Chris Kading or Dexter Werner for a bulk of the time, both players come off the bench, so Reed may need to take advantage of his time with them on the bench.  John Konchar will have to deal with AJ Jacobson and also Dexter Werner at any given moment.  Konchar did not play that great offensively against the Bison in their two meetings.  In Fargo, he shot 1-of-5 from the floor and in Fort Wayne he shot 2-of-6 from the floor but he had 19 freaking rebounds.  Max Landis will also be guarded by Kory Brown, who is one of the better wing defenders in the Summit League.  Landis shot 2-0f-10 in the loss in Fargo and 5-of-15 from the floor in the ‘Dons win in Fort Wayne.

The ‘Dons do have the extra day of rest, but the Bison have a slightly deeper team to throw at IPFW.  Seriously, only 6 players on IPFW actually get any real minutes.  The Bison also played one of the slowest games in the last decade last night against IUPUI.  A game so ugly it can only be described as the any given parody Andy Dick character of basketball games.  The Bison defense held the Jaguars to shoot under 30% from the field last night.  They also held South Dakota State under 30% from the floor earlier in the year.  So I guess that probably means they have a good defense or something.  Numbers are hard.  Once the blog gets Rylan Murry to be the Blog Math Guy, that’s when this can really get rolling.

Anyway, this game should be a great watch and should really go down to the wire.  If it does get down to the wire, North Dakota State is not a good free throw shooting team.  They shoot 68% from the free throw line, which is last in the Summit League.


 

South Dakota State and Denver

South Dakota State playing Denver is actually pretty scary.  Scott Nagy has called out his team a few times this season for not showing any toughness, and the only player on the entire team that showed any toughness Saturday night against Oral Roberts was Mike Daum.  The three senior leaders of the Jackrabbits combined for 5-of-20 from the floor against Oral Roberts and each had difficulty guarding freshmen guards of Oral Roberts.

The Jackrabbits have to go from a fast paced team to a team like Denver…and while South Dakota State swept Denver this season, they struggled in each game against the Pioneers this season.  Deondre Parks and George Marshall both struggled in each game against Denver, and the Pioneers had the game close in down the stretch in each meeting.  They both struggled Saturday against Oral Roberts, and they can really win this tournament with both players cold.

“The other guys” for South Dakota State need to step up for the Jackrabbits to avoid an upset against the Piooners.  Denver doesn’t have the length to guard Mike Daum from…anywhere, nor any length to bother Ian Theisen in the post.  South Dakota State has the defense to disrupt the Princeton offense, but if Denver is still on fire after their game against Omaha, the Pioneers are an extremely tough out for anyone.  Denver has also shot 50% or better in their last 3 games…one of those games was against the tough defense of before mentioned North Dakota State.

Denver’s freshmen have gotten better and better as the season has gone on, and they have really exceeded expectations as a team.  This is actually exactly what Joe Scott said would happen with this team.  The Pioneers also played in a weekend classic to open up the season playing 3 games in 3 days, where they beat Santa Clara and Lipscomb on days 2 and 3; so they are capable to continue playing their game day-after-day.

With an RPI hovering around 200, and probably little chance at a post season tourney, there is almost no pressure on the Pioneers.  If they win, they get to keep going, and yay.  If they lose, they had a season much better than expected and have a lot to build on for next season.  The Jackrabbits have a lot of pressure to win this game.  It is basically a home game, they need to prove their toughness to their coach, and they are losing a lot off their team heading into next season.  The expectation for this team was to win the Summit League regular season, and the conference tournament, anything less than that is a failure for them this season.


Just something quick on the Omaha women against South Dakota State

It’s obviously going to be tough for the Omaha women playing against South Dakota State in the semi final.  The Mavericks played them tough and impressed some people with their play against the Jackrabbits the first time the two teams met.

Talk about a team that exceeded expectations.  Some people just started looking ahead to 2016-2017 after the Mavericks lost an exhibition game at home, but now in March they have a winning record and are playing in the conference semi final after upsetting the 3 seed in the tournament.

They never backed down against IUPUI in what was a close game almost the entire time.  There was a moment when Mikaela Shaw hit a three to put the Mavericks at 57 points and ahead by 9 points, which was finally the defining moment to put the Mavericks ahead for sure, and the smile on Shaw’s face really was an accumulation of all the moments of where this team envisioned themselves to finally be after the entire transition period. With a win in the damn post season.

This team could seriously be in the top 3 in the conference next season.  I ignorantly say this as I am not sure what other teams have coming in; but they only graduate one player and have a former Missouri Valley Conference Honorable Mention player to add, along with some other fine pieces.  The team they are playing today, only graduates two players and returns 4 players that score in double figures…so this game this afternoon could be a trailer for what could become the conference championship next season.

 

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.

My trivial Summit League rankings – Feb 1

1. South Dakota State, 7-2

Last week: 2nd

They’re getting healthier, and their core is back and playing well together.  Good for them…  Mike Daum has emerged as one of the top post players in the league, and could really be the presence this team needs to win the Summit League.

The Jacks have not been as good on the road, and they still have to play at IPFW and at Omaha this season.  That game in Omaha could really be the biggest crowd the Mavericks get all season, maybe around 4,000 or so.  There is a part of me hoping that the Coyotes end at 8th in the Summit, as they would really give the Jacks problems in the first round of the Summit League tournament.

2. IPFW, 7-2

Last week: 3rd

Max Landis is averaging 5.3 assists per game since Mo Evans was declared ineligible.  He is averaging nearly 40 minutes a game as well.  Could the ‘Dons start to losing games if Landis’ legs are getting too tired to shoot and play basketball?  They have a tough road week at South Dakota (who IPFW beat by 20) and at North Dakota State (who IPFW beat by 5).

3. Omaha, 7-2

Last week: 1st

Clearly, I love the Mavericks, but their two losses are to South Dakota State and IPFW.  Tim Smallwood just averaged 12.5 points last week, and Randy Reed averaged 6 points and 5 rebounds…how good could the Mavs be with that production from them every game?

4. IUPUI, 7-2

Last week 5th

The Jaguars have 7 games left this season, and have already surpassed how many conference wins they had last season (as did Omaha).  This is the only team in the league with a win over South Dakota State and IPFW, the home loss to Oral Roberts is still a little shaky.

They won 2 games last week by a total of 3 points.  Matt O’Leary had to go 9-of-9 from the field to beat Western Illinois, and IUPUI needed a three pointer from Jordan Pickett at the end of the game to beat the Bison…and Paul Miller just barely missed a full court shot to win the game.  To win against North Dakota State in the final minute, their defense was able to force the inbound pass to Dexter Werner, who is a 61% free throw shooter…and he went 1-of-2 from the line (2-of-6 overall).

This team has some offensive deficiencies to really beat down any teams, but they defense can really give everyone problems, and they can keep any game close.  The Jaguars have their next 4 of 5 on the road, so they could begin to fall from the other teams at 7-2.

Jordan Pickett looks good after hitting a game winning shot against North Dakota State, but he continues to get better and better.  He is also an incredibly mature player if you listen to him talk.  He was one of the transfers from Loyola, and Pickett could become a top three point guard in the Summit over the next two seasons…and he could be a big help as to why the Jaguars will be competing for the regular season title next year.

5. North Dakota State, 4-4

Last week: 4th

Kory Brown is turning into the scorer, averaging 16.4 points over the last 5 games, that the Bison wanted him to be with the departure of Lawrence Alexander.  Their offense is really difficult to watch when Paul Miller goes to the bench, surprisingly, Paul Miller is the best on the team at driving to the basket.  The Bison have a winnable home schedule remaining with: IPFW, Western Illinois, IUPUI, and Oral Roberts.  Their remaining road schedule though is: South Dakota, South Dakota State, Omaha, and Denver.

6. Denver, 3-6

Last week: 8th

Denver beat South Dakota, and was pretty close with South Dakota State pretty late in the game on Saturday.  The Pioneers are still not a very good road team, and they have a three straight games on the road in a row in a few weeks.

7. South Dakota, 2-7

Last week: 7th

The Coyotes lost to Denver by 14 last week, which is pretty much a beat down.  Still the number one seed will not at all want to play the Coyotes in Sioux Falls.  Tyler Flack had 14 points and 6 rebounds against Omaha on Saturday.  Flack missed all of the 2014-2015 season with a back injury, if Flack can be fully healthy and effective, the Coyotes could be deeper and deadlier with him back in the lineup.

Vermillion is a difficult place for away teams to play, so maybe the Coyotes can get going on a little run now with three home games in a row.  But seriously South Dakota, just seed yourself to play South Dakota State in Sioux Falls.

8. Oral Roberts, 3-6

Last week: 6th

All that the Golden Eagles had last week was IPFW, and Oral Roberts gave up a lead to lose the game in the final minutes.   Oral Roberts is on a three game losing streak, but those three losses are to South Dakota State, Omaha, and IPFW; and now they are going into a week at North Dakota State and South Dakota, two games that Oral Roberts should not be favored in.

This team is athletic, but young and they haven’t played too many games together.  In the last few minutes of their game against IPFW, players held onto the ball too long, didn’t even pay attention to the shot clock, and played as if the season did not even matter.  It doesn’t matter how good of a coach Scott Sutton is if his players do not listen to him.

9. Western Illinois, 0-9

Last week: 9th

I think instead of talking about the Leathernecks, it would be more useful and more productive if I told you about a yogurt fruit mix my wife and I make.  It’s vanilla Greek fit yogurt mixed with apples, cantaloupe, grapes, strawberries, and sunflower kernels.  It’s pretty freaking tasty, and really good as a breakfast.  I got the plain Greek fit yogurt, instead of vanilla, and I got to tell you…it was pretty awful.  So get vanilla.  It wasn’t my fault, HyVee was out of Vanilla because of so many people stocking up for Snowmagedon.  Really, why do people stalk up for something that might force them home for one and maybe two days?

I will add this about Western Illinois…ah hell, never mind.

Summit League Predictions: Jan 6-9

So for my preseason rankings, I went through the Summit League schedule and applied wins and losses to each game, and I did it several times looking at different angles and added up all the records to come out with some standings.  So what the hell, why not provide some updated predictions as teams actually physically play?

January 6th

South Dakota @ IPFW

The home team lost each game in this series last season.  I admit to being a jerk toward IPFW all year, and I have little faith in this team’s post game and overall depth.  I also was not too huge on South Dakota going into the season, so this is a bit difficult of a game to pick.  The ‘Dons were never really tested in the non-conference, but they were able to pick up a win at home against Oral Roberts…which is something I originally thought would happen given Oral Roberts back and forth schedule to start Summit League play after playing an incredibly difficult non-conference schedule.

South Dakota forces more teams to take more threes than any other team in the league, and the ‘Dons make 10 threes per game and are 2nd in the conference in three point field goal percentage, which is why I am taking IPFW in this game…with a low amount of confidence.

Match up of the game could be: John Konchar (11.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 57 fg%) versus Tre Burnette (15.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 48fg%).  Both are undersized at the 4 position, but are both very essential for their teams.

Oral Roberts @ Denver

I really wanted to say Oral Roberts here, and really just on the basis of Oral Roberts Cannot Drop Seven Games in a Row.  That thinking is how you lose 500 dollars in roulette.  How could it possibly land on red 6 times in a row?  Clearly, the smart decision here is to put all my money on black!  Green double zero!  Where is that hospital that gives you money for a kidney?

The key to this game is if Obi Emegano will be in the game or not.  Emegano missed Oral Roberts’ game against South Dakota and the Golden Eagles ended up losing by 10.  The team made up of mostly newcomers had 22 turnovers against the Coyotes.  You cannot turn the ball over against Denver who is going to make the most out of every possession on you, especially when Denver is traditionally a very good home team.

Assuming Emegano is not playing…the match up of the game could be Jalen Bradley (10.1 ppg, 24 made threes, 38 3pt fg%) versus Nate Engesser (13.1 ppg, 33 made threes, 56 fg%).


January 7th

South Dakota State @ IUPUI

This is another game that is coming down to a key injury.  Jake Bittle has missed the last 6 games, and the Jackrabbits have acknowledged that they have a number of little nagging injuries to a number of players.  The Jacks have dropped 2 of their last 5, which really is not all that terrible, but all the last 5 games have been close with or without Bittle…the scrappy defense of the Jaguars could really get to the Jackrabbits if they do not have Bittle.  Seriously though, if Bittle plays you can change my prediction to South Dakota State winning the game.  I discussed how the Summit League is so close that an injury to any team could affect their standings in conference play.  Granted, I said teams 2 to 8, but Rob, you were there!

The key match up in this game could be Matt O’Leary (10.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 46 fg%) versus Mike Daum (11.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 52 fg%).  I realize I look like a total clown picking this as the match up, but Daum could be the only chance the Jackrabbits have at stopping O’Leary.  O’Leary has really been consistent all year and he kept getting wide open looks and getting to the basket against Omaha, but just couldn’t convert as he went 4-of-12 from the field…he could be able to find the bottom of the basket if he gets the same type of looks at home.  Yes, I know defensively the Jackrabbits are different team than Omaha, but ride this out with me.  O’Leary also leads all players 6’7″ or taller in assists in the league, so there is that as well.

Omaha @ North Dakota State

See, I am not a completely biased loon!  The Mavericks have yet to beat North Dakota State since transitioning to D1.  They are going to have to overcome the fact that almost no player on their current active roster has really had a good game against the Bison.  In 4 career games, Devin Patterson has averaged 7.8 points and shot 22% from the field against the Bison.  Ouch.  Tre’Shawn Thurman did have 18 and 8 in his first game against the Bison last season, but only had 2 points later in the season when they moved him to the bench to bring in Jake White.

The Mavs need Thurman, Jake White (who combined for 2-of-13 in two games against the Bison last season), Daniel Meyer, and Randy Reed to play big against the defensively sound post of Chris Kading, Dexter Werner, and AJ Jacobson.

The fun match up will be Thurman against Jacobson after Thurman had his 18 and 8 in their first meeting and Jacobson had 17 and 8 in their first career game against each other.  The key match up will be if Tra-Deon Hollins who leads the nation in steals can keep the ball away from Paul Miller who is scoring 16.6 points per game and shooting 43% from the field and from behind the arch.


January 9th

IUPUI @ Western Illinois

I fully believe IUPUI is the better team of the two, but IUPUI has not won in Macomb since 2011…and the Leathernecks are a completely different team at home.  This game is on ESPN3, but it could be as difficult to watch as someone trying to decide between rebooting Weekend at Bernie’s or trying to come out with a good plot line for Weekend at Bernie’s 3.  Watching Marcellus Barksdale defend Garret Covington could be worth the watch, but I have come to terms that Covington for as good of a scorer that Covington is, is incredibly boring to watch.

Omaha @ South Dakota

Alright good, I am back to being a homer.  Both games between these two teams were exciting last year, even if Omaha did play with a hobbled Devin Patterson in Vermillion.  The Mavs will have to hit some threes against South Dakota and/or get to the free throw line as much as possible.  Omaha MIGHT have JT Gibson back by this one for some three point shooting.

IPFW @ Denver

The Dons were absolutely unphased by the Pioneers last season beating them by 16 points in both contests.  Does this not seem like the least interesting match up of all Summit League teams?  This is the Rachel Weisz film of the Summit League.  Seriously, find a serious actor or actress with a lineup of less interesting films.  It gets shaky after “The Mummy.”

North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts should have Obi Emegano back, which I think would add plenty enough emotion to give them confidence after losing so many games recently.  I would like to say the Bison have the best defensive guards in the Summit League to handle Emegano, but he had 34 points on 12-of-17 shooting against the Bison last season in Tulsa.  The Mabee Center is not an easy place for teams to come in and pick up wins, unless you are South Dakota…then it is a little easy somehow.