South Dakota versus Western Illinois preview

I have heard commentators say that if there was any year for a 7 or 8 seed to upset one of the top two seeds in the Summit League conference tournament that this would be the year.  Not sure if anyone is feeling that great about it being Western Illinois coming in for the upset in the first round, but we will see.

It is not impossible for the Leathernecks to come take away South Dakota’s NCAA Tournament possibilities, but the Coyotes are riding a 6 game winning streak into the conference tournament which is a 1 hour drive away from their campus.

South Dakota probably has the deepest bench in the entire league, and Western Illinois has the least.  You could make an argument that the one team not playing in the tournament, Oral Roberts, has more talent and depth than the Leathernecks.  With Garret Covington and Mike Miklusak it’s like watching a movie with two up-and-coming stars while the rest of the cast is made up of personalities that made their debuts to entertainment in Tosh.0’s Web Redemption segment.  The movie also has you wondering, sure the up-and-coming stars were good, but would they really be able to have an impact on a likable movie?  Everything about this should remind you that someone once made a Smokey and the Bandit 3.

The Coyotes are the opposite of that.  There is a plan, and every player on the team understands their role.  South Dakota is more like a really good ensemble film that have you leaving the theater realizing that the whole thing worked because of the great ensemble.  That is the usual typecasting that creates the Summit League favorite.

To pull off the upset, the Leathernecks are going to need their offense to show up.  The Leathernecks are a decent defensive team, but much of the team seems instructed to not take a shot on offense unless you have to.  They did struggle to score the ball for most of January and February, but they did end the season averaging 88 points over the last three games.  Two of those last three games did go to overtime.

In their two match ups, Garret Covington combined for 10-of-30 from the field.  I’m lucky enough to know enough math to not need a calculator to figure out that is 33 percent from the field.  Mike Miklusak shot 9-of-24 in the two games against the Coyotes.  So the two leading scorers for the Leathernecks both struggled against the top defense in the Summit League.  They’re going to be going up against South Dakota in what is basically a home game for the Coyotes, so I can sum that up in three words: It’s not good.

While the Leathernecks are filled with inconsistent and players that not appear to have a load of confidence on offense, the Coyotes have players that appear confident and always ready to take a big shot.  Trey Burch-Manning can match up well with Miklusak and battle him on the low block and defend him on the perimeter, and he is the perfect type of player to make every single hustle play a contender needs.  Matt Mooney can also match up well against Covington, and watching Mooney as an opposing fan is incredibly difficult.  He averages 18 points per game and it seems like he averages 12 points per game when the games are on the line.  Mooney also comes off as a smug jerk, but that’s a conversation for another day.  It’s the bands on both wrists.  It’s a typical smug jerk look.

In conference play, Mooney was 3rd in the Summit League in scoring and Covington was 4th.

If there is one fault to South Dakota’s team, it is their free throw shooting.  They finished the season 8th in the conference in free throw percentage, and the Leathernecks were not that much better at 7th.  Still, there were several moments that Craig Smith had Trey Burch-Manning on the court in the final minutes and teams knew to foul the guy who shoots around 60 percent from the line, and it definitely got scary for the Coyotes.

Again, it’s not impossible for the Leathernecks to pull off an upset, but it will take a lot.  They will need guys who have rarely shown up to rise to the occasion to make big shots on offense and big stops on defense.  We have witnessed that the teams in this conference are incredibly close in competition.

Percentage wise, they are not an above average three point shooting team either.  The Coyotes finished 8th in three point shooting in conference games, but players like Mooney, Tyler Flack, and Trey Dickerson can make the big threes when they matter the most.

The Leathernecks are essentially walking into the casino, going straight to the roulette table, and putting all their chips on double-zero green and closing their eyes.

 

Summit League Predictions: Feb 22-25

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

February 22

North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

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

Omaha @ Denver

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

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

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

February 23

Fort Wayne @ IUPUI on ESPN3

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

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

South Dakota @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

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

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

February 25

Denver @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

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

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

South Dakota @ IUPUI on ESPN3

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

North Dakota State @ Omaha

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

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

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

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

Fort Wayne @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

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

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

Western Illinois somehow won that game.

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

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

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

Summit League predictions: Jan 31-Feb 4

After going two straight weeks of 4-4, I had my best week this year at 7-1.  Stupid South Dakota, had I known Tyler Flack was back, I would have changed my tune.

January 31

Denver (5-4) @ Oral Roberts (3-6) on ESPN3

This game will be close until the very end.  Albert Owens and Daniel Amigo can match up well and cancel each other out, so hopefully neither of them gets in foul trouble.

February 1

North Dakota State (6-1) @ IUPUI (3-6) on ESPN3

It’s hard to feel a lot of confidence in IUPUI right now.  They have lost three in a row, and one game was a 30 point lost to Fort Wayne.  They can usually keep games close, but have had some terrible clock management down the final stretches of games.  If you watch the Jaguars, the players appear to be losing confidence, especially Darell Combs and Jason Gardner constantly looks confused.  The body language is not good for the Jaguars right now, and it’s the worst time of the year to be going through that.

The last three games between these two teams have been close, as they do match up well with each other.  The last road game the Bison had, they beat Western Illinois by 32.

Western Illinois (3-6) @ South Dakota State (3-6) on ESPN3

South Dakota State has looked better defensively since moving away from so much zone defense.  Hard to believe these two teams are playing for not finishing in last in the conference.

Mike Daum has 8 points in Macomb.  That wont happen again.  He’s averaged 31.5 at home in conference play.

South Dakota (6-3) @ Omaha (4-5)

South Dakota made Omaha look silly in Vermillion, and the Mavericks should hopefully be out for revenge.  Marcus Tyus will not go 1-of-12 again.  Tre’Shawn Thurman seems like he is very upset with the Mavericks rebounding recently, and Thurman has a history of being very good when being fired up.

Tyler Flack came back to the ‘Yotes lineup to help South Dakota complete a sweep of Denver.  He will be able to help and defend a potentially fired up Tre’Shawn Thurman, but if he gets in foul trouble or shows a little fatigue coming back from injury then Thurman could go off.  Flack did score 19 against Denver, so he doesn’t appear too rusty.

The ‘Yotes defense and three point shooting will keep this game close, and my teeth hurt thinking that it will be one of those games where the opponent has a 10 point lead, Omaha gets it down to 2, then it goes back to 10, then Omaha gets it down to 1, and it goes back to 10.

Hey, maybe Omaha can win on South Dakota possibly looking ahead to North Dakota State, but I think I am pushing it.

February 4th

South Dakota (6-3) @ North Dakota State (7-1) on ESPN3

The Bison had to build a big lead to hold off South Dakota in Vermillion.  Fargo is not an easy place for away teams to play basketball.  The only two teams to win in Fargo this season are from the state of North Dakota.

Fort Wayne (5-4) @ Denver (5-4)

This could be a really fun game with little defense, just as there was in Fort Wayne.

The Pioneers were able to hold John Konchar to 6 points on 1-of-5 shooting in Fort Wayne in their first meeting. How is that possible?  I’m asking on behalf of the other seven teams in the Summit League.

Last year, Konchar had 10 points and was 4-of-8 from the free throw line in Denver against the Pioneers’ old Princeton style.  But seriously, have the Pioneers kidnapped someone and Konchar is mentally off his game like when Lex Luthor kidnapped Clark Kent’s mother to make Superman go do something stupid like fight Batman?

Oral Roberts (3-6) @ South Dakota State (3-6) on ESPN3

South Dakota State gets Western Illinois and Oral Roberts at home this week.  Good for them.  Cannot wait for the South Dakota State is Back story lines.

Omaha (4-5) @ Western Illinois (4-5) on ESPN3

Omaha was bitter about losing at Western Illinois last season.  It altered their season from a top two finish in the league to dropping to third and not getting an extra day of rest in the Summit League tournament (if they would have won in the first round).

The Mavericks hit 15 threes against the Leathernecks in Omaha earlier this season and forced the young Leathernecks to 18 turnovers.

Garret Covington appears to be feeling better than he did while in Omaha, so defense on him could become critical for the Mavericks.  Anyone else feel like Daniel Norl is becoming the best Mavericks perimeter defender?  He had some good minutes on defense against John Konchar, and he played good defense against South Dakota State.  Might be time to give him some more minutes, just as the Mavericks did last season toward the end of conference play with Kyler Erickson last year.

Summit League predictions: Jan 25-28

4-4 each of the last two weeks.  The Summit League isn’t easy this year with the teams being so close.

January 25

IUPUI (3-4) @ Fort Wayne (3-4)

The Jaguars won both games over Fort Wayne last season by a total of 5 points.  The Mastodons are looking to turn their luck around after three straight losses in the last couple of weeks.  Whoever wins this game gets to go to 4-4 and the other will be 3-5.

I don’t feel good about this and do not have a huge amount of confidence for Fort Wayne in this game, but here I am thinking home teams have a heavier advantage on weeknights…which hasn’t been totally consistent this season.

Reasons to like Fort Wayne:

  • They’re the home team.
  • They probably want it more after getting swept last season?
  • John Konchar, Mo Evans, and Bryson Scott are all really freaking good.

Reasons to not like Fort Wayne

  • IUPUI has one of the best defensive three point field goal percentages in the league, and have allowed the least amount of three point field goals in conference play.
  • Fort Wayne really doesn’t do a great job at getting to the free throw line, and they really need to force the Jaguars into foul trouble.
  • The Jaguars’ post players Matt O’Leary, Aaron Brennan, and Evan Hall all have decent mid to long rang games on offense, and Fort Wayne’s Brent Calhoun and Xzavier Taylor are not the greatest at getting out and defending.
  • I love John Konchar, but I am not a fan of his current hair choice.  Who at Fort Wayne do we demand release of the stat splits based on the design of his hair?

I just want it known that out of all the Wednesday night games this week, I feel the least amount of confidence in this one.

Western Illinois (3-4) @ South Dakota (4-3)

The weakest offensive team in the Summit League playing at the strongest defensive team in the Summit League.  Should be fun.

Oral Roberts (3-4) @ North Dakota State (6-1) on ESPN3

The Bison are 3-0 at home and the Golden Eagles are 0-3 on the road.

I had been entering this yesterday, so now We know I can see the future, sort of:

Off topic:  North Dakota is the only team to beat the Bison in Fargo this season.  The Fighting…something are also second in the Big Sky so far.  It is possible they could win the Big Sky and the Bison could win the Summit.  Let’s open the floor for debate that if both make the NCAA Tournament, then the Summit should invite North Dakota to the league so we never have to face this possible catastrophe ever again.

South Dakota State (2-5) @ Denver (4-3)

Hold on, I’m sick to my stomach.  Who would have thought, before the season, that Mike Daum versus Daniel Amigo would have been one of the most anticipated match ups between centers?  Even their back ups Ian Theisen versus Christian Mackey seems a bit fun.

It’s actually an interesting match up overall.  Two teams with 1st year head coaches, both trying out new offenses, both not the most consistent teams on defense, and both have a couple of the best sophomores in the league.  Both teams probably thinking next year with be their year.

In such an evenly matched game, how can you not want to favor the home team with an altitude advantage and just a wee bit more depth?

January 28

Fort Wayne (3-4) @ Oral Roberts (3-4) on ESPN3

While Fort Wayne has been under performing on the road, their post players Brent Calhoun and Xzavier Taylor match up well to defend the Golden Eagles’ best player Albert Owens.

Oral Roberts has one of the worst perimeter defenses in the conference, which is music to the ears of the three point shooters of Fort Wayne.

Denver (4-3) @ South Dakota (4-3) on ESPN3

This might be the saddest Game of the Week the Summit League has had this year.

With Tyler Flack out, the Coyotes really do not have anyone to defend Daniel Amigo.  The Coyotes will be able to defend and disrupt the offense of Denver, but Amigo will still get touches on offense and shouldn’t be exerting too much of his energy on the defensive end.  Joe Rosga and Thomas Neff probably love the idea that South Dakota keeps teams out behind the three point line, since they both shoot higher than 43 percent in that area.

IUPUI (3-4) @ Western Illinois (3-4) on ESPN3

The Jaguars swept Western Illinois in two low scoring games last season.  Even though the Leathernecks have been playing poorly lately, the Jaguars no longer have the Garret Covington stopper we knew as Marcellus Barksdale.

In no way do I actually have confidence that Western Illinois will actually win this game, but they’re Western Illinois and they do weird things and have weird out of body experiences sometimes.  Saturday can be one of those days if Covington doesn’t have anyone to really bother him all day.

South Dakota State (2-5) @ Omaha (4-4) on ESPN3

The Mavericks will have an entire week of rest coming into this game, and South Dakota State will be on their second road game of the week after playing in Denver.

After that, you’re probably wondering why the Jackrabbits are in bold.  Omaha has a history of starting off games very slowly after having some rest.  After eight days of rest in December, they found themselves down 23-45 in Vermillion.  With more than a week of rest last year heading into the Summit League tournament, the Mavericks found themselves down by 15 at halftime against Denver.  On a week’s rest last season, they found themselves down by 13 at halftime in Fort Wayne, but were eventually able to force the game to overtime.

The Mavericks cannot have a slow start against the Jackrabbits.  They need to start off hot like they did in Brookings.  They cannot find themselves playing from behind to the Jackrabbits, who always have a good amount of fans at games in Omaha.

After being up big in Brookings, the Jackrabbits found daylight and almost came back to win that game.

Reed Tellinghuisen, who has been struggling this season, has shot 14-of-19 in his two career games in Omaha.  The Jackrabbits haven’t been that far off from any win this season, and if Tellinghuisen can get going and make the difference then the Jackrabbits could be going back to Brookings feeling like they may not be the team left out of the Summit League tournament.

Well, I want to cry.

 

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Jan 17

1. South Dakota

Last week’s ranking : 3rd

It’s okay, I have a difficult time believing it as well.  I’m not wild about it either. Like I said earlier, there is not a huge difference from the best team in the conference to the 7th team in the conference this season.  I could just as well be drawing these team names out of a hat and seeing how it goes.

Without Tyler Flack, the Coyotes were able to split the week with North Dakota State and Fort Wayne.  They came pretty close to beating the Bison as well.  The Coyote defense is something that should be taken seriously.  They held the Mavericks to 69, the Jaguars to 74, the Pioneers to 69, and now the Mastodons to 63.  All known for scoring this season, and all below their average for points.

In the same week last week, they held North Dakota State’s AJ Jacobson to 2-of-9 shooting in 37 minutes and Fort Wayne’s John Konchar to 4-of-12 from the floor in 36 minutes.

Still, the big test for the Coyotes will be in the first two weeks of February when they play three straight road games at Omaha, North Dakota State, and Fort Wayne.  Then come home to play their nemesis South Dakota State.

2. Fort Wayne

Last week’s ranking:  2nd 

They’ve lost two conference games by a total of 5 points.  Two of their three conference wins are by a total of 6 points.  Their next four of five games will be on the road.  While the Mastodons’ shooting is exceptional, their defense is average.

The next five games is a crucial part of the season for their positioning in the Summit League tournament.  Because of their depth, the top two seeds in the conference tournament are the most important for the ‘Dons  in comparison to the other top teams in the conference.  Daily RPI predicts the ‘Dons going 3-2 over the next 5 games, and then win the rest of the regular season.  There, you don’t need to watch basketball anymore.

By the way, if you watch the ‘Dons get in foul trouble you’re going to spend much of your time trying to figure out if freshman Jax Levitch could turn out to be the real deal.  Some of your other time will be spent debating if Jax Levitch is a bad ass name, or just a really weird name.  It’s interesting.   I think it’s the name of the world’s least trust worthy Financial Advisor, but we’ll keep track of him for his entire life to see what happens.  Not weird or anything.

3. North Dakota State

Last week’s ranking: 1st

What happened last week?  In the last three halves, the Bison have been outscored by 36 points.  Denver out rebounded the Bison by 22 rebounds.  Didn’t Denver have like one and a half post players last season?

Here is something that should be a concern to Bison fan:  AJ Jacobson is 2 of his last 14 on threes.

4. Omaha

Last weeks’s ranking: 5th

The Mavericks are on a roll right now winning three in a row.  It should also be worth noting that they will not have back-to-back road games for the rest of the season.

Also, in the last 4 games, Mitch Hahn has shot 56 percent on threes.

5. Denver

Last week’s ranking: 8th

Honestly, I have not had the chance to watch Denver.  I don’t have Altitude so I don’t feel that bad about it.  They did sweep the week against “a hot” Western Illinois and embarrassed North Dakota State who has the best RPI in the Summit League.

Rodney Billups said that Daniel Amigo was going to have a huge break out year, and I thought he was trying to be funny.  He was completely serious.  Look at his jump from last season.

capture

6. IUPUI

Last week’s ranking: 6th

The schedule has not been kind to the Jaguars, but at least they did not lose at Oral Roberts.

This was supposed to be the year for the Jaguars but they lost three key players with no real explanation, and also with the graduation of Marcellus Barksdale they lost their scrappyness on defense.  The Jaguars do still have a fair amount of depth to go to the wire with any team in the Summit.  However, if they do get a game down to the wire, they’re 8th in the conference in free throw shooting.  Hopefully they don’t get into too many battles at the line with teams, even though they are likely to.

7. Western Illinois 

Last week’s ranking: 4th

I love how the argument for this team for being good by every commentator is that “they are a weird match up.”

When are we just going to admit that this team completely relies on Garret Covington playing efficient on top of him having a second guy to be competent on a nightly basis?

In the Leathernecks’ only 4 wins over D1 teams this season, Covington shot 57 percent from the field.  In just their last 4 losses, Covington has shot 28 percent from the floor.  He’s only shot better than 50 percent in one of their losses.

Covington was apparently slowed with an injury against Omaha.  It’s cool, I’m sure Billy Wright has something up his sleeve.  Like putting all of his chips on switching to a zone defense and then never going away from it.

8. Oral Roberts

Last week’s ranking: 9th

They picked up their first conference win, and they may not be having that great of a year but at least they are staying in most of their games.  With their next four of five games at home, they may be able to sneak in a few wins to help give them enough distance to not be the team left out of the conference tournament.

9. South Dakota State

Last week’s ranking: 8th

Hold on.  I am taking a minute to reflect on something.

Remember when TJ Otzelberger was hired and the Jackrabbit fans were thinking that the new system was going “to be like Omaha, but with actual defense.”

At least Mike Daum is balling.

 

 

Summit League predictions: Jan 11-14

I was 6-2 last week, and 5-3 the week before.  That’s 11-5.  I’m good enough for a 3 seed in the conference tournament.

January 11th

Omaha (1-3) @ IUPUI (1-3) on ESPN3

The Jaguars are 5-0 at home so far this season, and last time at home they defeated Western Illinois by 18.  Last year in Indianapolis, the Mavericks couldn’t do anything to stop the Jaguars offense, and let them shoot 56 percent in that loss.  Expect the same this time, as the Mavericks have been bad on defense lately and IUPUI has shot at least in the high 40s in every home game.

Derrin Hansen made a point that a key to the game is that the Mavericks can rebound and not give IUPUI second chance opportunities.  In the last 3 games, the Jaguars averaged a +6.7 rebound margin.  The Mavericks in the last 4 games, averaged a -4 rebound margin.

North Dakota State (3-0) @ South Dakota (3-1) on ESPN3

This game is going to be all defense.  While it is early in the conference season, these two teams have the best defensive field goal percentage in conference games.  They also average the least amount of turnovers overall on the year among Summit League teams.

The Coyotes will be without one of their best post players, Tyler Flack, until February, but Norfolk native Tyler Hagedorn helped fill the void on Saturday with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks in a win over IUPUI.

The Coyotes will be able to defend the Bison guards and cause frustrations in the Bison offense enough to guide South Dakota to another home win.  The Coyotes are 8-0 at home this season.

The Bison lost by 14 in Vermillion last season, and that wasn’t your older cousin’s South Dakota team.  The Bison were also playing without their leading scorer at the time, Paul Miller.

Western Illinois (3-1) @ Denver (1-2)

Western Illinois was able to win in Denver last season, who was playing without Joe Rosga at the time and CJ Bobbitt was limited to just 8 minutes in that game.  Expect Denver to be out for some revenge, and not to take Western Illinois lightly.

January 12th 

South Dakota State (1-3) @ Oral Roberts (0-3) on ESPN3

Oral Roberts just almost prevented the Jackrabbits from making the NCAA Tournament last season, just almost.  South Dakota State was able to escape the upset with every Jackrabbit playing poorly, except for Mike Daum.  Daum averaged 20.3 points and 7 rebounds against the Golden Eagles and can still have a huge game in Tulsa again this season.

The Jackrabbits mixed things up with their lineups and were able to get things going toward the end of the game against Omaha.  Oral Roberts has actually not been that bad for a 4-13 team.  They won each of their last two non-conference games, only lost to Creighton by 1, and had a rough start to conference play with three straight road games.  That home court is going to feel nice to Oral Roberts.

I went back and forth on who should win this game.  This game should be close throughout the entire duration of the game, with the winner escaping by winning on free throws toward the end of the game.  Both teams shoot above 70 percent at the free throw line.

January 14

Fort Wayne (3-1) @ South Dakota (3-1)

It’s almost a crime that this game wont have an ESPN3 broadcast.

Fort Wayne, one of the better three point shooting teams in the nation is going to go up against a team that allows teams to shoot more than 20 threes per game.  South Dakota is good at actually getting a hand in the face of shooters, but Fort Wayne can really move the ball around for the open shot.

Coming off of a defensive battle against North Dakota State, and having one of the best players out, South Dakota may not be able to last against Fort Wayne who will have an entire week of rest.  Fort Wayne leads the nation in three point field goal percentage, but South Dakota has the third best defensive three point field goal percentage in the conference.  The Coyotes have had the best defensive three point field goal percentage over the last 4 games.

With Tyler Flack out, the Mastodons should have a decent enough advantage in the post with Brent Calhoun, Xzavier Taylor, and John Konchar to take control of the game.  As good of a three point shooting team as the ‘Dons are, they aren’t too shabby at getting the ball down low.  The ‘Dons are also 16th in D1 in 2 point field goal percentage.

IUPUI (1-3) @ Oral Roberts (0-2) on ESPN3

IUPUI has a good enough defense to keep the inconsistent players of Oral Roberts off their game.

Alberts Owens is not quick enough to defend Matt O’Leary who is capable of scoring anywhere on the court, and none of the guards for Oral Roberts are great enough defensive players to slow down Darell Combs who is averaging 22.7 points per game so far in conference play so far.

As good as playing at home again might be for Oral Roberts, they don’t have the depth to win 2 games in three days.

North Dakota State (3-0) @ Denver (1-2)

Denver on the road is a bad match up for the Bison, but this is not the same type of game that it was a year ago when both team’s offenses worked down the shot clock on every possession to get the best shot.

Western Illinois (3-1) @ Omaha (1-3)

It’s a good thing the Leathernecks are one of the worst teams in the conference at taking the ball away and creating possessions for themselves, since the Mavericks have averaged 15 turnovers (ouch) to 11 assists (ouch) a game since entering Summit League play.

Still, the Leathernecks have started out conference play hot, and the Mavericks have not.  Derrin Hansen did mention that the Mavericks have been practicing better lately, and offensively they did look pretty good in the last two games.  The hope is that the Mavericks are still bitter about their loss to the Leathernecks last season, which helped prevent them from getting a top two spot in the conference tournament, so hopefully they can come out playing at a high level and build up a lead.

Travel this week could be an issue for the Leathernecks who will be coming to Omaha after a road game at Denver.

It’s always the random guys that show up for Western Illinois to beat the Mavericks.

Last year, Mike Miklusak was averaged 5 points and 3 rebounds a game, but beat up the Mavericks 14 points and 11 rebounds in the Mavericks’ loss in Macomb.

Tate Stensgaard was basically playing with no one defending him when he scored 26 on 13-of-15 shooting and had 7 rebounds in Baxter Arena.  He ended up averaging 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds.  Stensgaard The Mavericks had to come back from a 16 point lead to win that game.

In a loss to the Leathernecks 2 years ago, Jabari Sanidfer averaged 7.4 points on the season, but had 20 against the Mavericks.  Jamie Batish had 15 off the bench for the Leathernecks and averaged 6.4 points that year.

  • Also, a random note about Western Illinois.  Since losing Jabari Sandifer to a season ending injury, who is one of the most inconsistent players the Summit League has ever seen (or at least since Mav fans have paid attention), the Leathernecks have gone 3-1 and are 4-1 overall without him this season.

What I’m saying here is while the Mavericks are planning for Garret Covington, who is averaging 21.3 points, and Mike Miklusak, who is averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds a game this season, they should really be worried most about this De’Angelo Bruster kid who averages 6 points a game.  He might have 30 points in Baxter Arena.

Thanks for reading.  I know low major weekly basketball predictions might not be super entertaining, but this time of year after college football has ended, it’s this or you have the Mel Kiper Season of just analyzing the 2025 NFL Draft.

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Jan 10

1.North Dakota State

There is no team better suited to survive an injury to a top three player on their roster.

As good as the Bison appear, they are last in the conference in free throw percentage.  Hopefully, they don’t find themselves in a close game down the stretch and need big time free throws…which is how they picked up a few close losses last season.

The Bison are also 8th in the conference in three point field goal percentage.  Even though they are the best team in the conference, they are not flawless.

2. Fort Wayne

Their offense has such great ball movement and passing around the perimeter for finding open shots, it is no wonder they are one of the best three point shooting teams in the country.  I just need to know how John Konchar went off against Omaha and then had just 6 points at home against Denver.  It legitimately hurts my feelings.

The Mastodons appear to be struggling a little more on defense than we thought they would, and for being such a great offensive team, they are not exactly blowing out Summit League opponents.  They lost by 2 to Western Illinois, beat Oral Roberts by 11, defeated Omaha by 2 on a last second shot, and escaped Denver by 4.  They’re only really playing 7 guys, which is what hurt them toward the end of the year last season.

3. South Dakota

Craig Smith said he had a far more competitive roster this season, and he was 100% correct.  The Coyotes would be 4-0 had it not been for a late Mike Daum shot in Brookings.  They have the Bison and Mastodons this week, and expect Smith’s team to give the two top Summit League teams everything they’ve got.

The Yotes will be without Tyler Flack until February, he leads South Dakota in rebounds and blocks, and is second on the team in points and free throw percentage.  South Dakota has a difficult schedule with Flack out, so maintaining a top spot in the league may be difficult.  They will start February with three straight road games at Omaha, North Dakota State, and Fort Wayne.  He might be back in time to play that North Dakota State game.

4. Western Illinois

This hurts me to core, but there is no denying the fact that the Leathernecks are 3-1 and have a road win over Fort Wayne.  Garret Covington is solid, but the rest of his supporting cast has a history of inconsistency, so we will see how long this lasts.

Sophomore center Brandon Gilbeck had a week for himself.  Against Oral Roberts and South Dakota State, he averaged 11 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks.  If Gilbeck can play like this in the Summit League, the Leathernecks have a chance to stay good.  Since last season, the Leathernecks are 5-0 when Gilbeck score 10 or more points.

You would think with 3 wins, the Leathernecks have already secured a spot in the Summit League tournament, right?

5. Omaha

The Mavericks looked like they were completely back on track against Fort Wayne and South Dakota State, for the most part.  The Mavericks perimeter defense is sick, and I do not mean that in a good way.  It’s also difficult for them to hold on to a lead, because they do not know how to slow it down and burn clock in the final 5 minutes of the game.  That’s a negative effect when you have a Take The First Decent Shot mentality.

Marcus Tyus shot 18-of-26 last week.  Holy crap!

Did you know, that even though the Mavericks are 1-3 in conference play, they still have the second best RPI in the conference?

6. IUPUI

The Jaguars dropped two games last week, but it they were on the road at North Dakota State and South Dakota so it is pretty understandable.  The newcomers and supporting cast have under performed a bit this season, but I’m sure I just jinxed it and they’ll have the night of their lives on Wednesday.

7. South Dakota State

I thought maybe the last time the Jackrabbits lost 2 conference games in the same week was in World War 2 before the Summit League was ever created, but it was actually last year.

1-3 and their next 4 of 5 are on the road.  This might get ugly for the Jackrabbits.  There is honestly not a huge world of difference this season between the top two teams and the bottom two teams.  It might actually be in the Jackrabbits best interest to finish in 7th or 8th, as the Summit League tournament is designed to give the winner of the day one games an extra day rest.

8. Denver

All of their conference games have been close with their biggest loss by 6 to South Dakota.  The Pioneers do have a solid 8 man rotation, but like Omaha they have struggled on defense so far this season.

Their next 4 games at Western Illinois and North Dakota State at home, and then on the road against Omaha and IUPUI.

9. Oral Roberts

It was assumed that this would be a down year for the Golden Eagles, but their next 6 out 7 games are in Tulsa so maybe they have a chance to pick up some wins.