Summit League predictions: Feb 12-16

February 12th

Western Illinois @ South Dakota on ESPN+

I’ve got this idea for a movie.  It’s like a comedy version of “The Expendables.”  We round up them comedy Hollywood folk like: Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Steve Carell, Dave Chappelle, Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld, and more and it’s just a movie about them playing themselves trying to come up with a parody to “The Expendables” but none of them can stay on track long enough to put together a movie, and they get in a bunch of craziness along the way.

Okay, was that a bigger waste of time to read about, or would it have been a bigger waste of time to hear about a basketball game we already know the outcome to?

Omaha @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

Think about how much the Mavericks had to overcome to defeat the Golden Eagles in Baxter Arena.  Now think of how bad JT Gibson has been struggling shooting the basketball, he’s shot 15% on threes over the last three games, and 23% overall from the field.  Also throw in the fact that Zach Thornhill stole the ball and sprinted down the court to throw down a monstrous dunk as time expired when the Mavericks were already up by 5, and how that must have upset the Golden Eagles.


February 14th

Denver @ South Dakota State

Fort Wayne @ North Dakota State on ESPN+

I’m going over these games together, as it’s fitting both of these match ups take place on Valentine’s Day.  South Dakota State and North Dakota State are the most beloved teams in the Summit League, so I find it ironic they both get home games on Valentine’s Day against the two teams with the least amount of love in the Summit.  Fort Wayne won’t even be in the conference next season, and Denver wishes they weren’t in the conference next season.

It’s so beautiful The Summit League honored Valentine’s Day with match ups that make you feel like you’re watching a bad relationship end, and another game that just plays out like an abusive relationship you want to see end, but the Pioneers think they cannot find anything better.


February 15th

North Dakota @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

The Summit League and ESPN3 invite you to take in a basketball production so low in quality you’ll question if the broadcasters are in an active pursuit to ruin your Saturday.  Yes, tune in to listen to two grown men get paid to mispronounce 19 year old kids’ last names, as they dribble the ball off their knees and miss contested driving floaters 18 feet away from the basket for some damn reason.  You’ll be so frustrated watching this game, you may even take up reading novels again.

Why take Western Illinois in this game, you ask? Just because they are the home team, and every team in this conference has been so bad on the road that it just seems like a safe bet? That, yeah sure, but also because these teams aren’t far enough away in talent, depth, or just about anything, but CJ Duff is a good enough defender to throw Marlon Stewart off on the road to give the Leathernecks an actual chance in a basketball game.  Also, Ben Pyle has a chance to outplay Kienan Walter on the perimeter and go off for a big day, and whenever Pyle plays big, the Leathernecks play big. I get that’s rare.

South Dakota @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

The Golden Eagles have already lost to one South Dakota team at home this season.  Emmanuel Nzekwesi and Kevin Obanor aren’t great at defending big guys on the perimeter like Tyler Hagedorn.


February 16

Fort Wayne @ South Dakota State on ESPN+

Things Fort Wayne would have to do to win this basketball game:

  • Be good at perimeter defense to slow down Douglas Wilson and Matt Dentlinger
  • Actually, be good at defense in general
  • Be good on the road
  • Not turn the ball over
  • Make free throws

Things South Dakota State has to do to win this game

  • Show up

Denver @ Omaha

Jace Townsend had to shoot 8-of-10 on threes to give the Pioneers a win in Denver, and that’s not likely to happen on the road at Omaha.  The Pioneers shot 55% overall from the field in that game, and they are capable of shooting well on the road, but the young Pioneers have a tough weekend on the road at South Dakota State and Omaha.

JT Gibson is going to have to get out of his current shooting slump for the Mavericks not to drop another game at home.  With the lack of depth of the Mavericks, they cannot afford one of their captains shooting 23% from the floor.  Not many teams could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summit League predictions: Jan 15-19

Man, I went 3-5 last week at this.  I was feeling like living life on the edge and taking some risks, but still.

One might consider this Rivalry Week in the conference with the North Dakotas playing the South Dakotas and the North Dakotas play each other and the South Dakotas play each other.  While the rest of the us struggle accepting the conference doesn’t actually care about us.

January 15

North Dakota @ South Dakota State on ESPN+

The Fighting Hawks are bad on the road, and the Jackrabbits are 10-0 at home this season. Though, it should be worth considering the only team that has played against the Jackrabbits in Brookings with a better RPI than North Dakota was Oral Roberts.  The Jackrabbits shot 62% against Oral Roberts to win that game.

With health issues, neither team is particularly deep at the moment.  North Dakota does match up well with South Dakota State.  Filip Rebraca and Kienan Walter match up well against Matt Dentlinger and Douglas Wilson, and Marlon Stewart will hit some big shots to keep the game close.

Paul Sather’s offense will want to take a bunch of 3s, but South Dakota State is the best Summit League team at defending the 3.  I think the Jackrabbits win the game, but North Dakota can beat the spread.

South Dakota @ North Dakota State on ESPN+

These teams match up really well.  Their big glaring difference is that the Bison pride themselves on making the most of each and every possession, and South Dakota forces more turnovers than anyone else in the Summit League.  The big difference maker for North Dakota State losing to Oral Roberts was turnovers.  They had 4 more turnovers and lost by 6 points.

I’m going with South Dakota in this one.  It’s a big risk considering South Dakota has yet to win a road game in the conference so far, and their losses were to Western Illinois and Fort Wayne.

The Bison played Oral Roberts without Jared Samuelson and Sam Griesel.


January 16

Oral Roberts @ Western Illinois

The Golden Eagles have not won in Macomb since 2016.  They have won a game in the state of Illinois this season when they defeated Chicago State.  Also, let’s just add Chicago State to the conference already.  I get it, they’re atrocious, but I need an excuse to go to Chicago.

This game seems to lay completely on the shoulders of Kevin Obanor.  If he just wants to hang out on the perimeter and not play aggressive, it allows for Ben Pyle to not really play defense, and Western Illinois is a much better basketball team when Pyle plays well.


January 18

Oral Roberts @ Fort Wayne

Oral Roberts has not won in Fort Wayne since coming back to the Summit League (the Western Illinois and Fort Wayne trip isn’t kind to them).  They’ve also lost 5 in a row to Fort Wayne…granted that was all with John Konchar.

It’s upsetting as Oral Roberts is considered the most talented team in the league by people who actually pay attention to the conference.  They do shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers and bad shot selection, something Jon Coffman’s team would love to take advantage of.

Omaha @ Denver

The team with the best RPI in the conference versus the team with the worst RPI in the conference.

The Pioneers are going to be throwing a true freshman out there to guard Matt Pile, JT Gibson hit 5 threes in Denver last season and led all scorers in the game with 22 points.

I’m going to be real sad if Omaha loses this game.

North Dakota @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

Again, due to health reasons, neither team is particularly deep at the moment.

Is it weird I don’t care and I just can’t possibly imagine the Bison two straight at home?  Aside from that, the Fighting Hawks are just a generally more inconsistent basketball team.


January 19

South Dakota State @ South Dakota on ESPN+

South Dakota is the more talented team and experienced team, by far.  They have had issues the last few weeks with Triston Simpson struggling to get back into a groove after an injury.  With the feelings of being The B School in the state, the Coyotes are out to have something to prove, and with 5 seniors in the rotation, this is their biggest opportunity to take some notoriety and respect in their own state.  This Jackrabbits squad is a team set up for the future, but the Coyotes are set up for right now.

I suppose anything can happen with an in-state rivalry, I wouldn’t know from experience.  If your school’s fraternities can get in a bar fight with another school’s fraternities on a weekly basis, you should be required to play each other in basketball.

 

A biased Summit League preseason ranking preview: 5th place

North Dakota

Projected Conference Wins: 4 to 10

Projected Regular Season Finish: 4th to 7th

Key returning players: Billy Brown (Sr), Aenen Moody (So), Filip Rebraca (So), Marlon Stewart (Sr), Kienan Walter (Sr)


If so much of this stuff is based on what these teams have coming back versus what they have coming in and how they performed last season, why did the Fighting Hawks land themselves at 8th in the preseason rankings?

To be fair, I have a pretty big range for North Dakota between 4 and 10 wins, maybe because part of me felt so threatened by them in the first round of the Summit League tournament, and the guys who left the program weren’t even really factors in that game.

I actually don’t feel so good about this ranking.

spider

The biggest question for North Dakota is probably the fact that their coaching staff is brand new. Paul Sather takes over a team who finished 7th in the conference last season. He came from division 2 Northern State, where he was the NSIC Coach of the Year for the last 2 seasons, and was 85-19 over the last 2 seasons. If North Dakota were to finish 4th in the conference this season, I think Sather as Summit League Coach of the Year would be a safe bet.

Sather did mention how impressed he was by the team’s chemistry, something that the previous coaching staff was apparently trying to build. Sather also mentioned that his style of play won’t be much different from what North Dakota played last season, so there won’t be a huge adjustment on the court for players.

There was an awkward moment at the Summit League Media Day when he was asked if there was anyone on the roster he was impressed by when first meeting the team, and it took him a few seconds to come up with his answer: not really…

Sather did eventually mention he was impressed by redshirt freshman De’Sean Allen-Eikens, and thought he was a future star in the conference.  Allen-Eikens is a 6’6″ 212lb guard, who had over 20 division one scholarship offers before committing to North Dakota.

Man, I really don’t know how I got so high on this team. Oh well, none of this matters anyway.

So what’s good?

There isn’t a ton of experience on the roster, but they are returning 69% (4th in the Summit League) of their scoring and 68% (4th) of their rebounding. Also, the team made 139 threes in the conference last season, and they’re returning 130 of those threes.  The Fighting Hawks do have the 4th highest amount of division one games played on their roster, but the 7th most division one starts on their roster.

Senior guard Marlon Stewart will be leading this team on the offensive end. He did have more assists last season in the Summit League, out of all returning players.  Stewart was also playing through injuries last season, and is the healthiest he has ever been, according to Sather.

Sather noted that the offense will be based on three point shots, and all I can remember right now is guard Aenen Moody hitting clutch threes on Omaha in Sioux Falls, and I get scared. Seriously, every time I thought the Mavericks had control of the game, Moody hit a damn three to upset me. Moody had the 3rd most threes made in the Summit League last season as a freshman. Billy Brown had the 5th highest three point field goal percentage in the conference last season.

In addition to Stewart, Moody, and Brown, the Fighting Hawks will round out their starting lineup with 6’9″ senior forward Kienan Walter and 6’9″ sophomore forward Filip Rebraca, who combined for 11 rebounds per game in the Summit League last season.

If you watched the Summit League media day, I highly doubt you did, every coach mentioned how important the three is in the conference. It might surprise you, but North Dakota was best at defending the three point line in the conference. However, they had the worst overall defensive field goal percentage in the league.  So that’s weird.

If they can actually improve their defense, they could potentially be a threat to anyone.

Actually, I after typing all of this out, I no longer feel good about North Dakota at 5th. Mentally, you should drop them down to 7th. That Summit League tournament game just warped my mind a bit.


My trivial preseason Summit League rankings

5th North Dakota

6th Western Illinois

7th Fort Wayne

8th South Dakota State

9th Denver