My trivial Summit League rankings – December 11th

1. South Dakota State

The Jackrabbits had a lead with 7 minutes to go playing at # 6 Wichita State.  The key to shutting down the Jackrabbits might be slowing down Mike Daum, but no one in the Summit League has really proven that they can do that.

2. South Dakota

The Coyotes are currently leading the Summit League in fewest turnovers, and they also rank 3rd in defensive field goal percentage.  It’s tough to beat a team that can defend, as well as take care of the ball on offense.

3. Denver

The Pioneers are currently 3rd in the Summit League in field goal percentage, 2nd in three point field goal percentage, and they’re also leading the conference in rebounding – as one of the smallest teams in the league.

While South Dakota State has defeated two Power 5 teams, Denver’s win over Wyoming is probably the best non-conference win for any Summit League team so far.  The Jackrabbits did lose to Wyoming.

4. Western Illinois

I just threw up in my mouth.  Okay, I actually just threw up all over my hands.

They are leading the Summit League in defensive field goal percentage, but they have played the against the easiest schedule in the league.  It will be interesting to see what happens when they get to conference play, and see how they might play against teams who went the opposite direction as them in creating an incredibly difficult non-conference schedule.

Jeremiah Usiosefe did almost pick up a triple-double against Milwaukee on Saturday.  He finished with 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists.

5. North Dakota State

I’m sure the Bison will be fine in March, but they’re actually not looking too impressive right now.  AJ Jacobson appears slowed down, after having foot issues over the summer, and the post players are all incredibly inconsistent.

6. Fort Wayne

The Mastodons are leading the conference in steals, and probably have the fastest pace of play in the Summit League right now, and they’re going to need that as they are currently one of the worst shooting teams in the conference.  John Konchar actually seems a little more human so far this season.

7. Oral Roberts

Over the last couple of weeks, Missouri State managed to make South Dakota State and North Dakota State look like the worst version of themselves.  Yesterday, the Golden Eagles were able to pick up their third win of the season over the Bears.

This team has been playing with injury issues, inconsistency with the newcomers on the team, and even a suspension to one of their best players.

8. Omaha

This is turning out to be a nightmare season.  The expectations weren’t incredibly high before the beginning of the year, but now with the loss of Mitch Hahn, the Mavericks will have to fight harder for wins.

The Mavericks only had one steal as a team against Drake on Saturday.  Has that ever happened?

Maybe things will start to improve when this team gets to add Renard Suggs to the roster, but right now the team needs depth at the forward position.  Can we bring back Rylan Murry?  Is he still in school?

This season might turn into mix tape for seeing what the future can be with Matt Pile and Ayo Akinwole.  They’re both incredibly smart players, and watching them develop and show what they can do has some excitement to it.

At least the Baxter Arena has caramel filled pretzels?

I don’t even know what to really say right now.  My brain is just in random places.

 

 

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The Mavericks are finally back to the Baxter, but what about Drake?

Nearly 3 weeks into the season, the Mavericks are finally getting their first game this year in Baxter Arena.

Tuesday, Derrin Hansen said that the Mavericks had to create their own energy on the road, so it should be beneficial to his basketball team to finally receive some energy from a home crowd.  Not sure how much energy the Mavericks are needing or expecting, but it may be difficult to come by on a Wednesday night.

The Mavericks are coming back to Baxter Arena after losing 7 straight games on the road.  A road trip that saw one of their best scorers, Mitch Hahn, go down with a shoulder injury.  The team was still able to make hustle plays and keep a few games close, and feel as if they could be 3-4 right now if just a few things had gone their way.

Still, things did not go their way on their road trip, so the Mavericks are 0-7.  Seriously, with Hahn out, the Mavericks were playing stretches of the game against Jackson State with Alex Allbery or JT Gibson at the 4.

Fans bringing energy on a Wednesday night may be difficult to harness.  That guy who sits about 8 rows behind the team bench and talks shit to the referees the whole game will bring it, but it wont be the home opener energy we experienced in 2015 when Baxter Arena opened.

Whenever the Drake Bulldogs visit Omaha in anything, Drake fans do show up.  They may be the quietest fan base ever and sport a median age of 70, but they’ll show up enough for the Drake players to see the blue shirts in attendance.

The Bulldogs have shown that they love playing small ball with a bulk of their minutes going to their guards, so maybe a few minutes of JT Gibson at the 4 won’t be that big of a problem.

One of the reasons the Mavericks are 0-7 and not 3-4 right now is because of the number of mistakes in clutch moments.  The Mavericks had several opportunities to beat Jackson State, but turned the ball over multiple times late in the game to give the Tigers more chances to eventually give themselves an opportunity for a last second shot.

In the Mavericks’ defense, Daniel Meyer played with the type of energy against Jackson State that the Mavericks need from him every game.  Though, toward the end of the game, he had an offensive rebound and was fouled going back up to make the basket, but the referees called off the basket.  That bad call was a large difference maker, and ruined the Mavericks chances of winning in regulation.

This is also a depleted Mav team that has been playing without two players that were expected to be big time contributors in Mitch Hahn and Renard Suggs.  The Mavericks are still trying to figure out their rotations in competition, and not having those two in the lineup is making that even more difficult.  I’m sure the Mavericks will welcome them back when they’re healthy again, but they’ll have to hit the reset button on figuring all of that out.  The injuries to those two guys have given others the opportunities to step up.

KJ Robinson started the season off poorly, but has filled out his application to be the third member of the Big 3 for the Mavericks.  In the first three games, Robinson averaged 6 points, 2.3 assists, 5 turnovers, and shot 26% from the field.  In the last four games, he has averaged 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.8 turnovers, and shot 51% from the field.  Robinson even knocked down 7 three point field goals against Tennessee Tech.  He did a great job against Jackson State at finding the open man and had a nice pick-and-roll going with Daniel Meyer.

But what about Drake?

Niko Medved took over a Drake Bulldog team that is made up of mostly juniors and seniors.  They have a great deal of chemistry, which he makes a point of making stronger and stranger, and the Bulldogs average 11 turnovers a game as compared to the Mavericks who average 18 turnovers, so far.

Also, Medved was an assistant under Tim Miles at Colorado State.  He was previously head coach at Furman for 4 years where he coached the team to increase their win total each season he was there.  Hold on a second, I have to troll Nebrasketball fans for a moment.


MEDVED AND CRAIG SMITH WERE THE REAL BRAINS BEHIND THE OPERATION AT COLORADO STATE


Drake already beat Wake Forest, who had also lost to Georgia State and Liberty, but beating a big conference team can bring a large amount of confidence to a mid-major basketball team.

The Bulldogs average over 85 points a game, and are also 12th in the nation in three point field goal percentage.  The Mavericks will get to play the face paced offense they enjoy, but they’re going to have to cut down on the unguarded turnovers and defend the three.  Two things that the Mavericks have struggled with the last few years.

 

 

 

 

Mavericks versus Montana State preview

I keep forgetting the college basketball season starts this week, but it does.  In my mind, it starts when Omaha tips off in Great Falls against Montana State.  Since the Mavericks have their first 5 games on the road, it might actually be better if I didn’t let it start in my mind until late November.

This is the third year in a row that the Mavericks will meet the Bobcats, and the first of two meetings of this match up this season.  Omaha won each of the meetings between the two teams in the last two seasons.

The Bobcats return much of their roster from last season after tying for 5th in the final 2017 Big Sky standings, the fans have high expectations for this veteran basketball squad.  The team was ranked 4th in the preseason rankings for the Big Sky conference.

Wait…someone make a screeching halt noise.  Or the Wilhelm Scream.  The Wilhelm Scream works too.

The Bobcats narrowly defeated NAIA Montana State University-Northern by 5 points in an exhibition game on November 1st.  The Bobcats didn’t even gain a lead over MSU-Northern until 17 seconds left in the first half.  Maybe, as an out of state person, I shouldn’t read too much into this game.  If Nebraska-Kearney played Omaha, I’m sure Kearney would give the Mavericks everything they could and put a scare into the team.

However, there is this.

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I gotta say: that’s pretty harsh.

That is going to do one of two things.  That can really motivate the players to pull it all together by the time they start the regular season, or it can have the reverse and completely bring the confidence of the team even lower.

Maybe they can turn it around, but a team that doesn’t listen to the coach or buy into a system can have some nasty consequences in any sport.  With that said, the Mavericks have to really hope that the Bobcats don’t have it figured out to start the season, especially considering how much the Mavericks still need to figure out about themselves as a team.

I’m sure the Bobcats will figure a way to turn it around.  Even if it doesn’t look pretty, it was still an exhibition game.  Teams don’t normally return a bulk of their entire roster and just drop off the face of the earth with a load of chemistry issues.  Well, except for that year after Nebraska made the NCAA Tournament with Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway and turned out to have an incredibly follow up season.  As Maverick fans, we just hope the Bobcats don’t have it figured out by November 10th.

On paper, the Bobcats can be threatening.  They are led by Tyler Hall, a 6’4″ junior, who averaged 23 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3 assists as a sophomore.  Hall is on the Preseason Watch List for Lute Olson National Player of the Year Award.  The Mavericks were able to hold him to 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting in Omaha last season.  Running the point for the Bobcats is Norwegian point guard Harald Frey, who averaged 12.7 points and 3.4 assists as a freshman last season.

You can expect a shootout between Omaha and Montana State as both teams like to get up and score the ball.  The Bobcats, however, are not a very big team with the biggest player in their rotation at 6’7″.  Maybe Omaha will look to take the ball inside with native Montanan Daniel Meyer on the team.  They could also have freshman Matt Pile come in off the bench and set screens for Mitch Hahn and Zach Jackson to find space for open shots.

Trying to come up with things that look better than Mitch Hahn’s shot going up against smaller competition, and I cannot thing of many things.

Montana State has won their last 3 home openers.

According to ESPN, Montana State is a 9 point favorite, and has a 71% chance of winning.

 

My trivial preseason Summit League rankings

I find preseason rankings pointless.  So here are some preseason rankings.  After the conference schedule has been released in the last two seasons, I have ran through each team’s schedules and done different predictions through different scenarios.

The first time I would go through and predict wins and losses based on different factors, such as: who is coming off a tougher game, who has a better bench, who is just a better overall team, who do I hate less, who is a better defensive team, and so on and so on.  I add up all the wins and losses and then that’s how I come to rankings.

Like last season, there doesn’t really seem to be much separation in the Summit League from 2 to 7.  There are not many automatic wins.  The 4 seed won in the conference championship last season, so anyone has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament this season.  Don’t come at me if you don’t like the rankings.

1) South Dakota State – projected conference wins: 9 to 12

As the 4 seed in the Summit League tournament in 2017, the Jackrabbits were able to ride Mike Daum all the way to the NCAA Tournament.  They have Mike Daum back, and they even return 75% of their scoring, so it’s pretty easy to envision them as the best team in the conference.

The Jackrabbits graduated their starting point guard Michael Orris, who was 4th in the Summit League in assists per game.  On paper, they have what it seems to make up for that production after signing junior college transfer Brandon Key, who averaged 7.2 assists per game as a sophomore and was 5th in NJCAA in assists.  They were also able to sign Dallas Polk-Hilliard from junior college, who averaged 19.3 points and 8.4 rebounds as a sophomore.  Polk-Hilliard once had an offer from the Mavericks.

The Jackrabbits are going to be able to play small, play big, shoot threes, defend, and they have a pretty deep bench to go along with a solid starting 5.  Summit League teams are going to have to rely on the Jackrabbits making mistakes and beating themselves in order to pick up a win against South Dakota State.

2) Denver – projected conference wins: 8 to 9

The Pioneers were supposed to have a difficult time transitioning to Rodney Billups’ offense, but they had no problem last season.  They only lost CJ Bobbitt from their rotation, who transferred to New Mexico State.  The team is also bound to not run out of steam as they are able to go 9 or 10 players deep.

If the Pioneers can get to a situation where they South Dakota State in the conference championship, can Daniel Amigo show up to play?  Amigo scored in double figures in all but three conference games last season, including the conference tournament.  All three of those games were against South Dakota State.

3) South Dakota – projected conference wins: 8 to 9

The Coyotes still have Matt Mooney, who is a top 5 player in the league.  They are still going to play great defense, and hustle, and do the things that they do to help themselves win basketball games.  They do have more question marks than you would think.

Their top post player graduated, and their starting point guard transferred to Georgetown, so there is a little ground to make up there.  Junior forwards Dan Jech and Tyler Hagedorn have yet to show consistency in their careers, and no one is even really sure what Nebraska transfer Nick Fuller can be.  Without a back up point guard, sophomore Triston Simpson is going to have to play some big minutes at the point.  Matt Mooney will likely have to play stretches at the point guard spot.

4) Fort Wayne – projected conference wins: 7 to 9

John Konchar could win 5 conference games completely on his own, so they really just need a few more guys to step up to be in the top half of the conference.  The ‘Dons are still going to come out and hit threes and play at a fast pace.

They will have a solid starting 5, but out of all the teams competing for the Summit League championship, Fort Wayne has the most questionable bench.  If they find themselves in foul trouble in big games, other teams should be able to outplay them.  Again, like in 2015-2016, the Mastodons don’t have a deep enough team to last three nights in a row in the Summit League tournament, so it’s going to be very important for them to land in the top 2 seeds.

5) North Dakota State Bison- projected conference wins: 7 to 9

The Bison are actually the youngest team in the Summit League this season.  You know what happened the last time they were the youngest team in the Summit League?  Lawrence Alexander led them to the conference championship, but the Summit League wasn’t as deep as it is now back then.  Paul Miller and AJ Jacobson are the only two seniors on the team, and Jacobson is recovering from a stress fracture in his foot.

The Bison pride themselves on guys stepping up when someone goes down, and I’m sure a star will rise this season, but can Paul Miller carry the Bison like Lawrence Alexander once did?  Can this young team mentally get through the last 4 of 5 conference games on the road heading into the conference tournament?

6) Omaha – projected conference wins: 5 to 8

The Mavericks seem to have too much to make up after losing Tra-Deon Hollins, Marcus Tyus, and Tre’Shawn Thurman.  Omaha is actually the oldest team in the Summit League after adding transfers Renard Suggs and Lamar Wofford-Humphrey to the lineup, but there still appears to be a lot to figure out for the Mavericks.  They may even have a difficult time figuring out rotations against a non-conference schedule against Oklahoma, Washington, Louisville, TCU, and Kansas.

Losing 4 steals per game from Tra-Deon Hollins will be difficult in the sense that they may not be able to play as much transition offense as they did the last two seasons, which was Omaha’s comfort zone.  There will have be more half court sets and ball movement this season, which hasn’t been a huge strength of theirs in recent memory.  They do have the pieces around Mitch Hahn and Zach Jackson to be competitive in the Summit League and play in half court sets, but there cannot be as many mistakes as there has been in the last season.

Figuring out how to divide up 40 minutes between Daniel Meyer, Lamar Wofford-Humphrey, and Matt Pile sounds like it could be a challenge for Derrin Hansen.  After seeing Matt Pile play against Creighton and show off his rebounding ability, and how good he is at setting screens, he may find himself beating out two seniors for minutes this season.

7) Oral Roberts – projected conference wins: 2 to 5

Paul Mills is known as being able to coach up an intense defense, and the Golden Eagles are going to need that in his first season.

Oral Roberts has the least amount of offense returning from last season, after graduating three starters and Kris Martin transferring to Colorado State.  The team has a serious three headed monster in the post with Albert Owens, Emmanuel Nzekwesi, and Javan White, but is that really a threat in a run-and-gun league?  They are capable of pulling off an upset against anyone, but consistency looks to be an issue for this team.

8) Western Illinois- projected wins: 1 to 4

I could not say with any confidence that any starter on their basketball team could start for any other Summit League team.  The Leathernecks could be classically bad.

Brandon Gilbeck averaged 3 blocks a game last season.  That’s cool, I guess.  Maybe he could have a break out season after the Leathernecks graduated their two leading scorers, and have few offensive weapons on the team.

 

Surprise! The Mavericks and Jays are playing!

It’s here.  It’s finally happening.  The Jays and the Mavericks will play basketball on the same court, at the same time, and in a bizarre twist they’ll even be playing against each other.

In a charity game for Hurricane Relief, and a little bit for the Mavericks’ ego, the Jays will finally face off against the Mavericks in an exhibition game.  This is actually the Mavericks’ first exhibition game since transitioning to division one.  Unless you count all of 2011-2012 season an exhibition season.

100% of the net profits are going to hurricane relief across the country.  Is the beer stand with $9 cans of PBR going to be open?  There is a lot of profit in a $9 can of PBR.  That’s a lot of money going to hurricane relief.  Ugh, I can’t wait to get a $9 Schlitz on my lips.

I’m not going to get into the Jays too much because I don’t need a gang of Creighton fans tweeting at me about how I’m a garbage of a human being for not thinking the Jays are not going to be that great of a basketball team this season.

HOT TAKE: I don’t think Creighton will be that great this season.

They’ll still be better than Nebraska and UNO.  So good for them, I guess.  Actually, Nebraska’s roster looks pretty underrated…I think I say that every year so who cares.

Like, the Bluejays will be okay.  They received a preseason ranking of 4th in the Big East, which is more impressive than receiving a preseason ranking of 6th in the Summit League, but this Creighton team feels more like a 5th or a 6th place finish in the Big East.  Without a big time run in the Big East Tournament, the Bluejays are a NIT team.

Sure, Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas are great.  Toby Hegner and Ronnie Harrell Jr have their moments.  Martin Krampelj has some potential.

I also think Martin Krampelj should have a nickname of “Crampy Jay” but that’s just my opinion.

Still, doesn’t seem like the Bluejays have enough weapons to not be an inconsistent team this year.  It’s easy to look at a team with two stars like Thomas and Foster and say “hey, those are two good basketball players and they belong on a NCAA Tournament team.”  Two guys don’t always get you to the NCAA tournament.

This is all from a UNO fan who recognizes that the Mavericks are filled with new and even newer guys trying to fill the voids left from guys with big time roles.

The Mavericks lost their Big 3 in Tra-Deon Hollins, Marcus Tyus, and Tre’Shawn Thurman and will be counting on a committee to fill their most consistent scorer, best defender, and best rebounder.  Now their Big 3 is Mitch Hahn, Zach Jackson, and there is an application open for the third member.

As Mav fans, we’ve never really gotten that game that didn’t officially matter to see what the new guys on the team have to offer.  What a perfect opportunity to see what they can do against the team we’ve always wanted to play, and in our hometown.  It will be great to start the careers of freshmen Zach Thornhill and Matt Pile in a confusing setting wondering why two Division 1 teams in the same city don’t ever play each other in a regular season game.

Thornhill and Pile both come from Kansas, and there has been some chatter of both players being future All Conference players.  We’ll have to wait and see.  Pile shot 71 percent from the floor as a junior, and Thornhill has some abilities that make him sound like he could be the next John Konchar.

We’ll also be introduced to senior guard Renard Suggs. He sat out last season after transferring from Washington State, so it’s possible you forgot about him.  It’s possible with his three point shooting ability, that Suggs will be replacing some of the production lost by Tyus.  He’ll be competing for minutes with Daniel Norl, who I think is one of the most underrated guards in the Summit League.  I say that with a high level of bias.

And of course, the Mavericks are returning Zach Jackson as a starter, and might as well have been a starter Mitch Hahn.  I’ll throw out a guess that Creighton will base their defense on slowing down Hahn or forcing him into dumb shots.  Luckily for the Mavericks, no shot of Hahn’s is a dumb shot.

This is an exhibition game, and I’m sure the UNO players will take it far more seriously of a game than the Creighton players will.  That doesn’t mean Creighton won’t protect home court, as they definitely don’t want to lose to a Summit League team in the CenturyLink Center.  There still won’t be a huge amount of defense played, which is kind of a dream scenario for each team.

So here is a prediction:

The game will start out pretty close with Thomas and Foster getting to the rim whenever they want on offense, and Hahn and a mystery man on UNO getting off shots as they please.

Creighton will get a 10 point cushion in the first half, and UNO will stage a comeback and take a brief lead as the Bluejays go to their bench.

The game will be kind of close for a bit, but the Creighton players will take it pretty seriously in the last 5 minutes as Thomas and Foster run away with the game.

Also, at some point, Hahn will shoot a 3 from the First National Bank logo.

It should be fun though.  And we can take comfort in knowing that every Omaha World Herald story on the Mavericks for the rest of the season will come packaged with a stock photo from this game.

 

Summit League Championship preview

We’re all so juiced right now, right?!

All season I have been hoping to see Omaha rise up to what they are capable of being and blow someone out.  It was part of my desire to not wanting to be stressed out for two hours of watching sports.

The best part about last night night is that the Mavericks were able to defend the passing lanes and create havoc just as they did last season.  The entire team was playing with a huge amount of energy, and there is really no reason why they wont bring the energy tonight.  Even with the team only shooting 24 percent on threes, the Mavericks were able to play their brand of basketball and showcase an incredible performance.

It’s unfortunate that the Mavericks have to play in the championship game which is pretty much on the road, but this is still one of the greatest opportunities Omaha has ever had.

Yes, most of the arena will be wearing blue, but there will be some black and crimson.  This is the Mavericks moment, though.  The players and coaches have said they love playing in the big away games, and taking the home crowd out of it with big plays.  Since the Mavericks beat the Jackrabbits in Brookings this season, the only game the Jackrabbits have lost to in the state of South Dakota was to South Dakota in Vermillion.

We’ve been talking about the mind game for the Mavericks, but tonight they’re going up against a team that also has something in their own heads.  The Jackrabbits have under performed this season, and even though they were able to pick up a win against the Mavericks in Omaha, they let Omaha shoot all over them in Brookings.  Both teams almost gave up big leads to escape with wins on the road in the regular season against each other.  Neither team is just going to lay down and let the other one take this win.

Mike Daum is clearly going to demand an incredible amount of attention from the Mavericks.  He is like their Super Shredder.  Watching him play basketball at times is like watching the opening scene in X Men 2 when Nightcrawler dominates the Secret Service into submission.  Hopefully, like that scene, the Mavericks can stop Daum before he does anything catastrophic.

A big factor in the game is if Tre’Shawn Thurman can stay out of foul trouble and challenge Daum enough to throw him off of his game.  If Thurman get into foul trouble, Zach Pirog, Daniel Meyer, and Mitch Hahn will need to be ready.  Meyer is not the type of player that can really defend Daum, but Pirog can.  In Omaha, Pirog’s length really bothered Daum on possessions; and the Mavericks were +11 with him on the court.  Derrin Hansen doesn’t give Pirog a lot of minutes, but if things with Daum get a little dicey he may want to take a chance on Pirog.

It’s easy to look at this as OH MY GOD, NOT MIKE DAUM, but there are other guys that Omaha needs to worry about.  With all the attention on Daum, backup center Ian Theisen is able to find wide open looks against the Mavericks and knock down big shots.  He had 15 points off the bench on 6-of-8 shooting in Brookings against the Mavs.  Theisen did suffer an injury after the Jackrabbits trip to Omaha and missed 6 games and has struggled to find a role in the last three games for the Jackrabbits.  Omaha is healthier and has some more depth than South Dakota State, but that doesn’t mean the guys who can step up wont step up.

Michael Orris is also a good point guard that can really control the offense for the Jackrabbits, so hopefully the Mavericks can continue this great team defense to disrupt what he can do.  Reed Tellinghuisen is another guy that the Mavericks cannot underestimate.  Tellinghuisen has struggled this season, and has even gone 1-of-10 on threes against the Mavericks this season.  He shot lights out against Omaha as a freshman and sophomore, and the Jackrabbits appear to be more successful when Tellinghuisen gets hot so forcing him to a struggle bus is key.

How about who the Jackrabbits need to go up against?

The Jackrabbits have struggled defensively for much of the season, just like the Mavericks, but they have shown signs that they are capable of being a quality defensive team. With Ian Theisen and other senior AJ Hess both slowed down with injuries, who is going to defend Mitch Hahn who is playing incredible basketball right now and seems more focused than any other play we have ever seen?  He could literally hit a shot from anywhere on the court.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit a trailer 3 from the half court line.  Hahn had a three in the first half where he was about 5 feet behind the three point line and he just looked at the IUPUI defender, who was giving him the space, like: Seriously, do you not know who I am?

The Mavericks got their huge emotional game out of the way on Sunday night when they topped the team that scared them the most, and the Jackrabbits got their huge emotional game out of the way last night against their in-state rival.  The Mavericks are playing with a high level of confidence, and they’re playing smart basketball right now.  They have to continue that if they want the biggest win in program history.

When the Mavericks entered the Summit League, South Dakota State was the program they were striving to be, and now they have the chance to show that they have come a long way to be where they want to be.

My trivial Summit League rankings – Jan 24

Like I’ve said, and still maintain, there is not a huge amount of difference in the Summit League from top to bottom, so we could just say North Dakota State is number one and everyone else is tied for 2nd.

It is my birthday, so the Mavericks are going to be in 2nd this week.  Deal with it.

1. North Dakota State

Last week’s ranking: 3rd

The Bison have a RPI ranking of 77 right now, they shot 13-of-16 on threes at Western Illinois over the weekend, and we are currently trying to figure out what the hell went so wrong in Denver.

I would check LetsGoDU, but it’s just going to talk about how the Pioneers should be in the Sun Belt.

2. Omaha

Last week’s ranking: 4th

Today is my birthday, so I am allowed to let my bias side show.  They were embarrassed in Tulsa, but a lot of that was just letting themselves embarrass themselves with: Marcus Tyus getting in early foul trouble, Tre’Shawn Thurman picking up the most untimely technical foul possible, and turning the ball over at least 10 times just by just dropping the ball right out of bounce unguarded.

These are things that can be fixed.  The biggest issue with this team appears to be rebounding, and especially giving up offensive rebounds.  It seems like too glorious of an event when you see Mitch Hahn, Daniel Meyer, or Zach Pirog beat a guy out for position to take away a rebound.

Omaha has lost the 2nd chance points battle in every conference game, except for their win to Denver…and I think Denver missed three shots the whole game.

Now, I’m just going to throw out a few things to make me feel better about this.

The Mavericks and the Bison are the only two teams in the Summit to have multiple conference road wins.  They also have the two best three point field goal percentages in conference play.  The Mavericks have also led conference play in steals per game.  They also have had the most turnovers, but have the highest pace and have more possessions from all the steals.

For other Summit League fans claiming Omaha is atrocious at defense; the Mavericks are 6th in defensive field goal percentage in front of Fort Wayne, IUPUI, and Oral Roberts.  They are also second in three point field goal percentage, and they are also in second in forced turnovers per game.

3. Fort Wayne

Last week’s ranking: 2nd

The ‘Dons have dropped three in a row, and it’s a little understandable since they’ve all been on the road.  None of their wins have been dominating in anyway, and they even got Dauminated last week.  Typing that hurt me to the core.  The ‘Dons haven’t actually been beaten badly in any of their losses, but they are 3-4 and many people thought they were going to win 13 to 14 conference games this season.

Their next two of three games are on the road, and the one home game is against IUPUI who swept the ‘Dons last season.

4. South Dakota

Last week’s ranking: 1st

They’re a little thin in the post with Tyler Flack out, and that was one of my fears with picking them last week against Oral Roberts.

A week at home against Western Illinois and Denver should be nice.

5. Denver

Last week’s ranking: 5th

I don’t like getting mean, well, it’s cool if it’s Denver; but isn’t Joe Rosga the least interesting of all the Summit League Super Sophomores?  Probably the worst defender out of all of them as well.

Welp, this has been fun.

6. IUPUI

Last week’s ranking: 6th

There was a point last year, where I found it difficult to figure out what kind of team the Jaguars were, and I feel that I have gotten there again this season.  They are not as tough and scrappy as they were last season on defense, and if they don’t get out in transition on offense, there appears to be a lot of just standing around.  There seems to be a lot jump shooting and hoping to God that they can grab the offensive rebound for easy put backs.  They lead the conference in offensive rebounds, so I guess it kind of works.  With 2-of-13 shooting from Darell Combs against Denver, and only grabbing 8 offensive rebounds as a team, that strategy did not work…

7. Oral Roberts

Last week’s ranking: 8th

The Golden Eagles are continuing to improve week after week.  In life after Obi Emegano, players are becoming more comfortable and confident with their shot selection.  In conference play, the Golden Eagles have the second best field goal percentage behind Denver, and they have had the best free throw percentage.  The Golden Eagles have also had the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference.

Albert Owens has scored 20 or more points in six consecutive games. Sophomore Kris Martin has also scored 20 or more points in five of the team’s seven conference games.  This young team has weapons, and if they continue to be consistent and find more confidence, they could potentially ruin the Summit League tournament for a top team.  Freshman Emmanuel Nzekwesi has also scored in double figures in each of the team’s conference wins.

8. South Dakota State

Last week’s ranking: 9th

The Jackrabbits’ five conference losses came by an average of 7 points per loss.  They’re not far away from turning this around.  They were able to hold Fort Wayne’s great three point shooting to 7-of-21 on Saturday.  Not sure if that is a sign of improvement on their perimeter defense, or just a consequence of Fort Wayne being run down from playing a competitive game against North Dakota State on Thursday.

The Jackrabbits actually have the second best defensive three point field goal percentage in conference play.  I just the poor perimeter defense talk on their fans being in complete panic mode in their fan forum online, and how easy it appears for opposing guards to penetrate and get in the lane against South Dakota State.

The Jackrabbits did also play a competitive game on Wednesday against IUPUI, and the last 3 minutes of that was probably the most frustrating chunk of basketball for any Jackrabbit or Jaguar fan.  Each team kept making shots in the last minute with plenty of time on the shot clock for the other to do something.

The Jackrabbits do appear be getting their rotation sorted out, and setting up an inside-outside game between Mike Daum and Michael Orris.

9. Western Illinois

Last week’s ranking: 7th

After winning their first 3 out of 4 conference games, the Leathernecks have dropped three in a row and have shot less than 40 percent in all three losses.

It’s good to see the Leathernecks are back.