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.

 

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Summit League Predictions: Jan 28-31

I went 6-2 at this last week, losing on a dumb gamble with Western Illinois over North Dakota State and a IUPUI 2 point win over their instate rival IPFW.

By the way, IPFW versus IUPUI had a crowd of 1500.  Both are decent basketball teams, and it is an instate rivalry.  Imagine that UNK was division one (heaven forbid) and they played in the Summit League and played at Omaha as two of the better teams in the league.  The attendance in Omaha would get up around 4,000 people…just as the South Dakota State at South Dakota game was.

January 28

Omaha (6-1) @ South Dakota State (5-2) on ESPN3

More on this later…

IPFW (5-2) @ Oral Roberts (3-5) on ESPN3

Max Landis, who is a great shooter and great player, is averaging 39 minutes per game since Mo Evans was declared ineligible to play.  He only really went to the bench against Omaha when he was in foul trouble.  Can he play (and more importantly shoot) at a high level every game playing that many minutes?  He shot 30% from the field in the last two games, and both were in Fort Wayne…granted it was North Dakota State and IUPUI who are both sound defensive teams, but the point still remains.  Oral Roberts is a deeper team than IPFW and can give him and John Konchar a few different looks.

I tried to look up the last time Oral Roberts dropped 3 in a row at home, and it took too long so I gave up.  Oral Roberts does have the 2nd worst defensive field goal percentage in the league in front of Denver…and boring note: Oral Roberts is the only team to play every team in the league at least once so far.  They also average more turnovers than any other team in the league…okay I may have just sold myself out of Oral Roberts in this game.

South Dakota (2-5) @ Denver (2-5)

How did Root Sports not pick up this game?

Fun fact:  Both of these teams got their wins are against Western Illinois and Oral Roberts, and both teams beat Oral Roberts when Obi Emegano was out.

South Dakota did a really good job guarding Nate Engesser last season, but can an incredibly inconsistent team go to Denver and pick up a win?  Actually, they probably can.  You have to shoot efficiently against Denver in order to keep up with their Princeton Offense, and South Dakota is 7th in league games so far in field goal percentage.

A scary thing about Denver actually, they are 7th in turnovers in the Summit with 13 turnovers per game…which given how slow they play, is a lot like averaging 20 turnovers a game for most teams.  Crap, I may have just sold myself out of Denver in this game.

January 29

Western Illinois (0-7) @ IUPUI (5-2)

IUPUI did win at Western Illinois a few weeks ago.  Garret Covington shot 6-of-16 from the field and 2-of-9 from three against the Jaguars while Jabari Sandifer was 1-of-8 from the floor.  The Western Illinois offense comes down the court and appears to have no plan, and they have to go up against one of the best defenses in the league…so that should be gross.

There is just not a lot of confidence to put on the Leathernecks right now.

January 30

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

The Jackrabbits did lose in Denver last season, but the most experienced team against the least experienced team this year?

South Dakota (2-5) @ Omaha (6-1)

This might be the least comfortable I have ever been as a Mavs fan.  South Dakota is one of three teams that have averaged more assists than turnovers in Summit League play, they have to be the biggest wild card in the league, and their ability to keep teams on the outside scares me as a fan of team that is last in the Summit in three point field goal percentage.  South Dakota also held the Mavericks to just 4 fast break points in Vermillion, which is actually really impressive.

Omaha also has not played as well at home as they have on the road, and they needed a 21 point comeback to beat the Coyotes.  There always seems to be a few Coyote fans that come to their games in Omaha; I am not sure if it is because it is an easy travel; or South Dakota has a decent amount of alums in the Omaha area; or because living in Vermillion must be awful and you need any excuse to get out.  Probably all of the above.

In conference play, the Coyotes have averaged the most fouls per game in the league, and Omaha shot 35 free throws against them in Vermillion a few weeks ago…which is mostly why I am not selling myself out of Omaha in this game.

The Coyotes can be trouble if Tyler Flack is back and healthy finally.

January 31

North Dakota State (4-3) @ IUPUI (5-2) on ESPN3

IUPUI is really trying to go all out to advertise fans to come out to their games this weekend…so maybe the Jaguars will have a home court advantage for once.

Let me tell you something interesting!  I was really going for Jim Carrey’s Fire Marshall Bill character screaming “Let me show you something!” but I probably failed to really capture it with just an exclamation point…IUPUI is 2nd in conference games so far in field goal percentage, and North Dakota State is 1st in defensive field goal percentage…on the reverse of that, North Dakota State is 6th in field goal percentage and IUPUI is 3rd in defensive field goal percentage…

IUPUI is 2nd in league play in steals per game, which being behind Omaha in that category is not too bad; and these teams are about even in turnovers.  So two of the best defensive teams can make for a low scoring frustrating game.  The Jaguars appear to have better defenders equipped to go against the Bison’s best players…Marcellus Barksdale, or Nick Osborne, or Mason Archie against AJ Jacobson (who has been struggling lately), Paul Miller, or Kory Brown.  NDSU’s true freshman Khy Kabellis is going to have to be matched up against Darrell Combs who averages 16 points per game, or Jordan Pickett who has averaged 11.6 points per game over the last 6 games.  Kabellis has shot 29% from the field when playing outside the state of North Dakota.

Western Illinois (0-7) @ IPFW (5-2)

Western Illinois had the best three point field goal percentage as a team in non-conference play, partially because they played just the dumbest non-conference schedule ever.  In league play, the Leathernecks are 8th in the conference in three point field goal percentage, and they are 8th in points per game in front of Denver…and IPFW is tied in first with Omaha in scoring.  The Leathernecks are also 8th in field goal percentage and IPFW leads the league in rebounding.  IPFW might be able to renovate their arena with all the bricks they’ll be able to pick up.

My trivial Summit League rankings – Jan 25

1. Omaha, 6-1

Last week: 2nd

Before the beginning of the season, the Mavericks had never won in Denver, Fargo, or Tulsa; and now they have won at all three.  They also have not won at Western Illinois since transitioning to D1…so help me God…  The Mavericks have also only had conference season sweeps over UMKC and IUPUI in the past.  According to the ESPN3 commentators during the South Dakota State-IUPUI game a few weeks ago: you want to go undefeated at home and split your road games.  That math puts you at 12-4 to (most likely) win the conference.  The Mavs lost at home, so I guess they’ll just go undefeated on the road.

Jake White is currently the only player that is in the top 5 in the Summit League in points, rebounds, and field goal percentage.  His three point field goal percentage is high enough to be in 3rd in the conference, but he does not attempt enough threes to qualify for that category.  He is also 8th in the conference in free throw percentage, which puts at the highest free throw percentage for any player 6’6″ or taller in the league.

Tra-Deon Hollins is getting better and better offensively, which should just scare the hell out of other teams.  He’s knocking down threes finally…and they are clutch threes, which Omaha desperately needed as the worst three point shooting team in the Summit.  JT Gibson should be soon to add to the team’s three point shooting, right?

2. South Dakota State, 5-2

Last week: 3rd

The Jackrabbits got Jake Bittle back in time to beat Oral Roberts and South Dakota.  Mike Daum continues to get better and better.  Things could get real on Thursday…

The Jackrabbits still hold an RPI in the top 50.

3. IPFW, 5-2

Last week: 1st

Since the loss of Mo Evans, Max Landis has averaged 39.3 minutes per game.  He only sat out a few minutes against Omaha because he got into foul trouble.  Can he continue the hot shooting and carrying the team playing that many minutes?  He’s shot 30% in the last two games at home, so maybe he is losing his powers.

4. North Dakota State, 4-3

Last week: 4th

In the last 5 games, AJ Jacobson is shooting 33% from the field and 28% on threes.  It’s possible that Jacobson wont be on the Summit League 1st Team like it was predicted, I can think of a couple guys who can take his place… Curious if this team inserts Chris Kading back into the starting lineup when the team gets closer to the conference tournament.

5. IUPUI, 5-2

Last week: 6th

The Jags were able to knock off IPFW in Fort Wayne, so Mav fans should take a minute to thank IUPUI for this.  The Jaguars have become a better team overall this season with the added offense from their transfers and newcomers.  By the way, they only had 5 turnovers as a team against IPFW.  Amazingly, for not being known as an offensive show, the Jaguars are 2nd in the conference in Summit League in field goal percentage behind Omaha.

6. Oral Roberts, 3-5

Last week: 5th

The Golden Eagles started the conference schedule with a on the road for a game, then home, then back on the road for one game, then back home for a game, then going on the road for two games, to come back home for South Dakota State and Omaha at home.  They probably cannot wait for their three game home stretch against IUPUI, Denver, and Western Illinois.

I didn’t get to watch the Omaha-Oral Roberts game.  I planned on watching it on ESPN3 on Sunday, and I got the first 10 minutes of the game, but then ESPN3 just decided that enough for me.  I saw that AJ Owens did not play, I do not know why, but I watched the Golden Eagles’ game against South Dakota State and I wrote down “AJ Owens has a really quick release on his jump shot, but why?  Why does a 6’9″ 260 pound guy need a quick release on his jump shot?  Seriously?”

7. South Dakota, 2-5

Last week: 8th

The Coyotes were right there to defeat their instate rival, but couldn’t pull it off.  They have two games on the road this week at Denver and Omaha.  This is still a difficult team to figure out, and will be a tough out in the conference tournament for the 1st or 2nd seed.  Tyler Flack appeared to be healthy again against South Dakota State.  He had 10 points and 6 rebounds with a monstrous dunk at one point.  If they can get him at 100%, the Coyotes are going to be annoying.

8. Denver, 2-5

Last week: 7th

The Pioneers only had one game last week which was a 14 point loss to Omaha.  They get two games at home this week against the South Dakota schools, a split this week would be pretty reasonable.

9. Western Illinois

Last week: 9th

The Leathernecks are 0-7 and their next 5 out of their 6 games are on the road, and the one home game is against Omaha.  The end of their loss to North Dakota State was phenomenal to watch.  JC Fuller missed two easy shots, Jabari Sandifer missed a couple easy shots and refused to pass to a wide open Garret Covington, and it looked as if the team were not even paying attention to the coaching staff.

Summit League Predictions: Jan 13-16

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

January 13

South Dakota @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

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

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

January 14

Oral Roberts @ IUPUI on ESPN3

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

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

Denver @ Western Illinois

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

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

IPFWSouth Dakota State

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

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

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

January 16

Denver @ IUPUI on ESPN3

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

IPFW @ Omaha

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Dakota State @ North Dakota State on ESPN 3

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

Oral Roberts @ Western Illinois

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

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


Summit League RPI Rankings as of January 12th

51. South Dakota State

78. IPFW

107. Oral Roberts

139. Omaha

152. South Dakota

163. IUPUI

170. North Dakota State

234. Denver

252. Western Illinois


Summit League Kenpom Rankings as of January 12th

83. South Dakota State

133. Omaha

155. North Dakota State

160. IPFW

188. IUPUI

189. Western Illinois

193. Oral Roberts

209. South Dakota

243. Denver

It was stressful, but the Mavericks are 2-0

A 2 point win after being down with 16 points with 9 minutes to go and a 5 point win in an always close game is a pretty stressful way to pick up your first two conference wins, but the Mavs are 2-0 and that is all that matters (to me).  It was as stressful as being a Kansas City Royals fan and watching them be down 0-1 going into the 7th inning.  Both IUPUI and Western Illinois are going to be tough to beat on the road later in the season, and Omaha plays IUPUI after a fun filled weekend of North Dakota State and South Dakota State.  Also, the Mavs are currently on their longest winning streak over division one teams…so eat that up.

Last year, the worst thing about the Mavs was their perimeter defense.  Wing players consistently had great games against their perimeter defense.  Now, after 2 games, the Mavs held Garret Covington of Western Illinois to 4-13 from the floor and Darell Combs of IUPUI to 8 points on 3-11 shooting.  IUPUI was just 1 of 15 from three point range, but they really are not that great of a three point shooting team to begin with…they are 8th in the Summit League and Omaha is 9th.  JC Fuller of Western Illinois had 10 points for Western Illinois in the first 8 minutes of the game, and the Mavs were able to contain him to just 7 points for the rest of the game.

The three point shooting for the Mavs is still a concern, but Tim Smallwood was able to hit some big time shots against Western Illinois to help fuel the comeback.  Tre’Shawn Thurman and Tra-Deon Hollins were both in foul trouble for a good portion of the Western Illinois win.  Hollins was really able to help spark the comeback in the final 9 minutes of the game with his stealing and passing abilities, he might not be the best player for the Mavericks, but he could be the most important player for the Mavericks this season.  If you’re a complete dork, you should remember the old Marvel trading cards that had ratings on the back for each characters abilities of strength and shooting lasers out their eyes abilities.  Hollins would have the highest rating for passing and stealing.  You can make a highlight film of guards thinking they can pass around or above Hollins, and he just jumps up in the air and takes the ball.

My wife and I could see that Jalen Morgan of Western Illinois was a complete head case for the Leathernecks, I look forward to the hockey style fight he gets in at some point with his own teammate.  I watched JC Fuller get away twice in the game with putting his elbow on the chest of a Maverick and pushing them off of him.  I am also 90% sure that I saw Jabari Sandifer kiss his own bicep after making a three point shot, which is something only cool dudes do.  I did feel bad for Mike Miklusak hurting himself toward the end of the first half, he was in the shoot around at half time, but he has had a career filled with injuries.  He did miss the Leathernecks’ game against South Dakota State, I could look up to see if there is any specific injury, but I hate typing “Western Illinois” into the Google Machine.

The win over IUPUI has to shake your brain that Devin Patterson and Tre’Shawn Thurman were not selected any preseason Summit League teams.  The Jaguars are a gritty team, they had more steals than the Mavericks.  Yeah, that is weird, isn’t it?  Evan Hall is going to be a great player in the Summit, and you have to like the future of the Jaguars.  Maybe even a top 3 team in the conference next season.

A random note to mention:  Tra-Deon Hollins has 64 steals on the season, which is already the most steals by any Maverick in a season since transition.  Granted, it has not been that long of a history since transition, but we’re only half way through the season so far…

The Mavs are off to as good of a start that you could ask for in the Summit League at 2-0, but a two game road trip at North Dakota State and South Dakota is going to be difficult.  The Mavericks have been a better three point shooting team on the road for some reason, so hopefully that can help because they are going to need it against those two teams that force you to shoot from the outside.

 

The New Year’s Day Leatherneck-Maverick Bowl

Back from a trip to see the in-laws in Portland just in time to see some Summit League basketball.

Random Note:  I was wearing an Omaha Mavericks shirt out in Portland and ran into a guy with a Nebraska Cornhuskers who started a rant at me that the Mavericks “suck.”  I am still unsure what to make of the whole situation.  I tried to talk to my father-in-law about it, but he is a North Dakota fan, so that was worthless.

Anyway, it is 2016, and the Mavericks are still a full fledged member of division one.  The Western Illinois Leathernecks will be the first opponent for the Mavericks to try and build their record to get in good standing for their first trip to the Summit League tournament.  There is a good chance (or a bad chance depending how you look at it) that the Baxter Arena crowd may not be a large crowd in the conference opener.  College bowl season is going on today, students are back home (even though most UNO students hail from Omaha), and many people are still struggling to find dignity at 1pm on New Year’s Day.  The Mavericks started each season in the Summit League on the road, but this season they get a great chance to start out with a decent record with 2 games at home against Western Illinois and IUPUI.

What is there to know about the Western Illinois Leathernecks?

  • Record: 7-4
  • They beat Wisconsin at the beginning of the year, you may have heard of it.  You probably have not heard many positive things for the Badgers since that either, but hey let the Leathernecks brag about it to cover up their loss to Chicago State.  Oh wait, this sounds familiar.
  • They only played out out of the state of Illinois in 3 games in their non-conference schedule.  This is their second game in the state of Nebraska after losing to Creighton 97-67 in November.  Does this make you want the Mavericks to beat the Leathernecks even harder to hurt Creighton’s RPI?  I am not even sure if that would hurt Creighton’s RPI, but it wouldn’t help it.
  • Leathernecks beat Eastern Illinois twice, Omaha beat EIU once.
  • Garret Covington is pretty good at this basketball thing.  At 6’5″ and 180lbs, Covington is currently 3rd in the Summit in scoring with 17.4 points per game.  I don’t want to talk smack about Covington, but he does not really rank that well in any other statistical category…He is 10th in the Summit in free throw percentage.
  • JC Fuller appears to be the X-factor for the Leathernecks.  In wins, he is averaging 17.7 points per game and shooting 52% from the field.  In losses, Fuller is averaging 9.5 points per game and shooting 29% from the field.  Do the Mavs have a really good defensive guard to help slow Fuller down?  Yes…
  • Jabari Sandifer gave the Mavericks problems last season.  He is 2nd in the conference in assists behind Tra-Deon Hollins, and Sandifer is 2nd in the conference in Assists to Turnover ratio, so the match up between Sandifer and Fuller against Hollins and Devin Patterson appears to be a big factor in this game.
  • The Leathernecks were really excited for 6’11” freshman Brandon Gilbeck before the start of the season.  The frosh is averaging 3.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and has only made one free throw all season, so I am not sure if they are still super jacked about him or not.  The front line for the Leathernecks is deep with 4 guys that are 6’8″ or taller to play in the post, but none of them are half has good as Jake White or Tre’Shawn Thurman.

Since only one conference game has been played so far, and the non-conference schedule had completely different levels of competition for each Summit League team, I feel it is dumb to discuss team statistics at this point…and Western Illinois only played 11 games in their non-conference schedule when everyone else had 13 or 14 games…and 3 of their 11 games were against non-D1 teams…and they played Eastern Illinois twice…my teeth hurt right now.  But hey, the Summit League is currently 10th in RPI as a conference!

The Summit League RPI rankings as of December 31st…

37. South Dakota State

77. Oral Roberts

91. IPFW

120. South Dakota

153. North Dakota State

172. Omaha

212. Western Illinois

227. IUPUI

241. Denver


 

But hey, if you like Kenpom more…

57. South Dakota State

144. Omaha

160. North Dakota State

176. IPFW

181. Oral Roberts

193. Western Illinois

201. South Dakota

219. Denver

 

Notes: Mavs rebounded really well against the Roos

It was one of the most stressful games I have seen in a while, but the Mavericks got the win, so I cannot complain.  There were some teaching moments, and there was also some great aggressive plays from the Mavericks.  I was kind of upset in the first game that the score board did not tell you how many points and fouls the players had.  I am super glad this got fixed.  The battery on my phone was getting pissed at me for having to look it up every couple minutes.

Basketball was fun last night.
The worst picture ever, but basketball was fun last night.
  • The Shock Top stand is not open on weeknight games I guess.  I just wanted Twisted Pretzel.
  • Kareem Richardson just always looks like he is ready to leave as quickly as possible.  He’s done a great job at UMKC though.  I doubt he is in Kansas City too much longer.
  • The first time I saw Shayok Shayok, he is was 6’6″, and now he is listed at 6’9″.  Why can’t I grow like that?
  • My favorite thing about the MavX ap is that it tells you the menus of all the concession stands in the Baxter Arena.  My wife is an extremely healthy eater, so usually when we go to sporting events we spend a half hour walking around the entire arena finding her something healthy to eat.  The ap cuts down on this time, and that has pretty much made my year.
  • Tra-Deon Hollins court awareness is just unreal.  I feel like he is in training to be The Flash.  In the Flash, they just shoot arrows and other objects at him to see if he can catch everything.  Hollins has a way of making it appear as if the opposing team is just throwing the ball at him to see if he can catch it.
  • Jake White appeared that he had something to prove against UMKC.   Not that it ever looks like he’s ready to put on an open mic stand up comedy routine, but he looked like he knew he had a task to stay out on the court and to not let UMKC get any offensive boards.  He was fighting out there.  The Mavs let up a few key offensive boards, but it is going to happen no matter what you do sometimes.  The Mavs only gave up 9 offensive rebounds this game, and Jake White had a big role in keeping the ‘Roos off the glass.
  • LaVell Boyd and Martez Harrison might one of the three best back courts the Mavs play this year.
  • Another guy who looks as serious as the Terminator trying to hunt down Sarah Connor is Tim Smallwood.  He’s the Timinator.  He’s constantly ready put up a three, and he chases after his misses, and he’s hustled his ass off the last two games after not getting much time against Santa Barbara.  That is exactly what you want out of a senior guard.  His near coast to coast drive was something we did not see much out of him last season.
  • I know that UMKC made quite a bit a threes in the game, the Kangaroos did find some wide open looks from the perimeter, but the Mavs did contest a lot of those shots.  Just being that the Mavs are forcing so many threes, you can tell that teams are maybe a bit nervous about having to get through Devin Patterson and Tra-Deon Hollins…The Devil’s Gate.  The ‘Roos had some threes from big guys, there are not many bigs in The Summit that can hit multiple threes a game.
  • I felt like I was watching the pre-LeBron James Miami Heat play the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals in the second half.  The Heat that year just put the ball in Dwayne Wade’s hands and kept having him drive to the basket because of the all the fouls.  Why do I feel like this?  The ‘Roos had 37 fouls in the game.  The Mavericks were 36-48 from the free throw line.  When the Mavs came down the court down 83-80, I was thinking it would almost be dumb to shoot a three.  It seemed like the Mavericks were stuck at 5 of 18 on threes for the past 15 minutes, and I was looking at the fouls and just saying that: I would bet money here that UMKC will make a dumb foul here.
  • We need to keep getting more excited for Zach Jackson.  Out of the three freshmen on this year’s team, he had the least known about him coming into the year.  He makes a few odd decisions, but for the most part he plays great, and what college freshman doesn’t make a couple questionable decision in his first three college basketball games.  There are seniors out there making poor decisions on the court.  Near the end of the game, there was an overthrown pass to him that went out of bounce and some guy near me was pissed that he didn’t try and save the ball.  Really, had he thrown the ball back it could have gone to an opposing player and UMKC would have been off to the races at the end of the game and anything could have happened.  Jackson is a high IQ player, the Mavs need that for a guy that is filling in.  I made this point earlier, the Mavs are asking less out of their newcomers compared to other Summit League teams.  Others are asking newcomers to be stars right away, the Mavs are asking the newcomers to be role players…this has to be something that will pay off.
  • Growing increasingly nervous about this team’s three point shooting as we head to The Summit League, but the Mavericks advantage is going to be Patterson and Hollins breaking down the defense and getting into the lane.  The Summit does not have a bunch of post players, White and Thurman could be 2 of the top 5 post players in the Summit League.
  • This game needed a little cowbell toward the end of the game.
  • Tre’Shawn Thurman literally wiped the floor tonight.  He was playing like he was in a video game, and his player rating kept rising because of his great play.  He’s added some moves, he was feeling it, and was incredibly focused.  He just looked more relaxed at the free throw line tonight, which I thought showed with 7 of 9 from the line.  Thurman has the highest ceiling of any Maverick that we have seen in a while.  When people walk into the Baxter Arena, they immediately take notice of the muscle he put on.
  • Kelley Wollak did a great job as the MC in timeouts.  I feel bad with her being on crutches out there though.  I was a little bummed that Mikaela Shaw could not be in Omaha and Grand Forks at the same time.  It feels like it could have been a Bill Brasky level of story that Mav fans could have screamed at a bar in the future.  ONE TIME MIKAELA SHAW RAN FROM GRAND FORKS TO OMAHA SO SHE COULD GIVE OUT A FREE OIL CHANGE AND THEN SHE RAN BACK TO GRAND FORKS TO DROP 19 ON NORTH DAKOTA….TO MIKAELA SHAW!!!!
  • Every win is needed, but this was a much needed win for the Mavericks.  UMKC is an improved team, and going on a three game road swing after going 1-2 would have been…I think my brain just tried to escape my head.
  • Who else sat there entire time asking: Why is UMKC in the WAC?

Elsewhere in The Summit

Western Illinois beat Illinois-Chicago 84-57.  Jabari Sandifer had 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists.  JC Fuller had 19 points and 9 rebounds.  Garret Covington had 17 points and 3 rebounds.  The Leathernecks are making us all look like idiots.