A sore IUPUI-North Dakota State Summit tourney preview

IUPUI and North Dakota State make for the most even match up for the first round, and it may not even be an entertaining game.  Well, it will be entertaining from the aspect of it probably being a close game for 39 straight minutes, but not so entertaining that there will be a load of missed shots, probably some pretty bad calls by the referees.  Really, what else do you expect out of a 4 versus 5 game?  It’s like watching a movie where there is a good story and plot line in place, but all of the protagonists keep doing dumb mistakes to have you screaming “DON’T SHOOT THAT GUY, IT’S GOING TO CAUSE A LOT OF PROBLEMS…WHY DID YOU SHOOT THAT GUY!!!”

Both of these teams faced some injury issues in the last month.  The Bison were without their leading scorer, Paul Miller*, for 6 straight games in February.  The Bison lost 4 of their last 6 games, and Miller made it back for the last game of the season against Denver and went 1-of-9 from the floor in an 11 point loss.

*Miller averaged 15.9 ppg (8th in SL),  42 FG%, 41.8 3ptFG% (9th in SL), and 4.9 rpg)

The Jaguars were without their starting forward, Evan Hall**, for 7 straight games from late January to mid February.  They were also missing their top guard off the bench, Jordan Pickett***, for two games against Omaha and North Dakota State in February.  Pickett scored 20 points off the bench for the Jaguars and hit the game winning shot against the Bison the first time these two teams played.  IUPUI lost 5 of the last 7 games, with the injuries, and the early success in conference for both of these teams, makes them both tough outs in the conference tournament.

**Hall averaged 5.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 52 FG%

***Pickett averaged 9.5 ppg, 39 fg%, 83 FT% (5th in SL)

Both of these teams appear to have all of their major players back for this game, and both of these teams were healthy enough to have all of their key players in their first game; and that game ended in a three point made field goal by Pickett, and then a 75 footer that just missed by Paul Miller.

The teams seem just about even, but IUPUI should have the slight edge on North Dakota State.  The Jaguars are slightly deeper, have a slightly better core of post players, and are slightly better at defense.  IUPUI is 2nd in the conference in steals and are capable of disrupting the North Dakota State weave offense.

The Bison also have the worst free throw shooting in the conference, so in a close game when fouling becomes prominent at the end of the game, the Bison can lose their edge in a close game.  In their first game, IUPUI’s defense was able to force North Dakota State’s inbound passes to all of the worst free throw shooters for the Bison; and then the Jaguars were able to knock down shots to make the small comeback.

North Dakota State really cannot reasonably win this game if Paul Miller is back but not actually healthy.  If he’s in the game, but going 1-of-9, and not able to keep up with IUPUI’s transition offense; why wouldn’t it be better to just go with guards Kory Brown and Malik Clements more than Miller?  Brown averaged 12 points 7.2 rebounds in 6 games without Miller.  Clements, though, started the year off well and then really seemed to struggle as the year went on…which seems common for newcomers.  Seeing him in person in Omaha, made me feel like he was either injured or just not in great shape.  He appeared to struggle whenever Omaha would get out and run, and IUPUI likes to steal the ball and get out and run…maybe not as much as Omaha, but they like to play that way.  It actually made me kind of happy that he never committed to the Mavericks.

Anyway, the winner of this game will face the winner of IPFW & South Dakota…which will more than likely be IPFW, but obviously not guaranteed.  Both teams provide for a bad match up for IPFW in the second round, as they combined to go 3-1 over the regular season champion.  North Dakota State held IPFW to 46 points in Fargo, a team that averaged a shade over 80 points per game; and IUPUI swept the ‘Dons by a total of 5 points, but they were able to keep up offensively with IPFW by scoring 84 points in the first game and 80 in the second game.

 

 

Summit League predictions: Feb 17-21

5-3 last week, but I love it when Omaha proves me wrong.  I don’t like it when Western Illinois proves me wrong.  This is a big week for seeding in the conference tournament.  IPFW meets South Dakota State and Omaha, who are all in a fight for 1st (and 2nd) place.  Denver has match ups against Oral Roberts and South Dakota, who are all in a fight for 6th, 7th, and 8th.  North Dakota State and IUPUI will also meet on Saturday, which should be a preview of the 4 versus 5 match up in the conference tournament.

So with all of the intensity in these last 2 weeks, I have absolute confidence of picking at 1-7 this week.

February 17th

Omaha (9-4) @ IUPUI (7-5) on ESPN3

Something that scares me is that road teams in the Summit League games are now 0-6 on Wednesday nights in conference play…this includes the Mavericks losing at Western Illinois on a Wednesday.  The Jaguars are also 4-1 in conference play at home.  I think I said that they were undefeated at home in conference play on Monday…my bad.  It’s actually kind of amazing that IUPUI is better at home, it’s not like they have a huge home court advantage with a hopping crowd when averaging an attendance of about 1,000 people.

The Mavs won the earlier match up in Omaha, but it was not exactly a dominating performance.  IUPUI’s size is scary for UNO that they should be able to out rebound and crash the offensive boards and not let UNO run out in transition and get a number of easy baskets.  I say that somewhat blindly as IUPUI is 7th in the Summit in rebounds per game, but the Jaguars did have 15 offensive rebounds in Omaha.

The Mavs have to really watch out for Matt O’Leary.  He’s second on the roster for IUPUI in scoring and tied to lead the team in assists.  He plays efficiently, and at 6’8″, he might be the best big man in the Summit League at putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket.  He can also step out and hit the three.  Matt Osborne’s game seems a little similar to Mike Rostampour as well, and the Jaguars have him coming off the bench; Mavs may have trouble crashing the boards with both Osborne and O’Leary on the court at the same time so Daniel Meyer and Randy Reed need to play smart in this game.

There is a part of me that is just going with the Jags in hopes to reverse jinx the Mavericks into a win.  I’m not sure if that is how jinxes work, but damn it, the science is not all there on jinxes.

I’m not sure if IUPUI’s Evan Hall will play or not.  He’s a 6’7″ freshman that averages 5 points and 4 rebounds, and he has missed the last 6 games.  I heard he was out with concussion symptoms, but that was from ESPN3 commentators who routinely get stuff wrong.  Anyway, the Jaguars are 3-3 in the last 6 games without him, and their three wins were by a total of 5 points.  They also lost earlier in the season to Missouri and Creighton when he missed two games.

Western Illinois (2-10) @ North Dakota State (6-6)

North Dakota State won by 13 in Macomb, and Western Illinois is not greatly equipped to stop the weave offense of North Dakota State; but this game could be closer than the 13 that the Leathernecks lost by earlier in the year.  The Leathernecks should actually have a shot in this game if NDSU’s leading scorer, Paul Miller, misses his fourth straight game.  Another sort of scary thing for the Bison is that they are in Oh Crap, Let’s Just Make it to March Without Anymore Injuries mode and Western Illinois is in Playoff Mode.  Western Illinois could be playing for a lot more right now.

Oh yeah, Summit League road teams are 0-6 on Wednesday nights in conference. This is the last Wednesday night in the Summit League.

This Bison are pretty much a lock to finish in 4th or 5th and facing up against IUPUI in the first round of the conference tournament, which is a really even match up.

York @ South Dakota (4-9)

Wait… York?

Feburary 18th

South Dakota State (9-3) @ IPFW (9-3)

This could be really big.  The Mastodons really have no one to stop Mike Daum.  Brent Calhoun is not fast enough to guard him.  John Konchar is too small to guard him.  Joe Reed is also someone who is too slow to stop him, but probably has the best shot out of all the ‘Dons to do it.  Daum could really big the big difference in this game.  You could tell Omaha was deeply concerned with not letting Daum get the ball in the 2nd half last week.  The ‘Dons are going to need another 30+ point performance from Max Landis to come out on top  in this game, but does he have enough steam left in him after all the minutes he has played?

Landis has averaged 39 minutes a game in the last 10 games; and while he has had a few awesome performances in that stretch, he has had some duds in those 10 games.  He did come out as the player of the week the last time IPFW faced South Dakota State and Omaha in the same week; but this reminds me of when Greg McDermott played the crap out of Antoine Young in his junior year because they had no back up point guard, and Young could barely finish the season.

February 19th

Denver (5-8) @ Oral Roberts (5-8) on ESPN3

Did you know Denver made 20 threes in a loss against IPFW on Saturday?  They are not likely to repeat that sort of production, but Oral Roberts is not a great defensive team to play up against Denver’s constantly moving offense.  Oral Roberts is a team that can really take advantage of all of Denver’s turnovers…and by Oral Roberts, I mean Obi Emegano.  Denver leads the league with the most turnovers, which is actually kind of sad given how they have the fewest possessions in the conference.

Denver won the first meeting between these two teams by one point in Denver, but Obi Emegano was not playing in the game.

February 20th

South Dakota State (9-3) @ Western Illinois (2-10) on ESPN3

Oh, Western Illinois is the team to have North Dakota State and South Dakota State in the same week.

Amazingly, South Dakota State only won by 2 points in Macomb last season; and SDSU is not as good of a road team this season…Western Illinois has something to ride into this game.  Western Illinois also only lost by 4 to South Dakota State in Brookings at the beginning of the conference season.  Wait, this doesn’t sound like the mismatch that it should be.

The Jackrabbits have won 11 straight meetings against the Leathernecks.  Oh, there it is.  South Dakota State could be in a tough game on Thursday night with IPFW, so maybe they might not have enough left in them to go up against Western Illinois this week.  I thought the same thing when North Dakota State were traveling to IPFW and Western Illinois in the same week, so I don’t want to get burned on Western Illinois again…this is what it landing on red 12 times in a row in roulette does to a man.

IUPUI (7-5) @ North Dakota State (6-6) on ESPN3

The last meeting between these two teams was fun to watch.  IUPUI has really struggled to score on the road since then.  The Jaguars could really have the edge again if Paul Miller misses this game again.

Omaha (9-4) @ IPFW (9-3)

If it was not for a huge mistake on offense at the end of regulation in Omaha, the Mavericks would have had the comeback win against the Mastodons.  The dream is that IPFW will get into a long drawn out exhausting game with South Dakota State on Thursday and really tire out the legs of Max Landis, and then have to face the Mavericks who will have an extra day of rest.

Landis was almost impossible to stop in Omaha, going for 37 points.  Someone like Devin Patterson has responded well to defending someone after they’ve had a huge game like that against the Mavericks.  The Mavericks also appear to play better under pressure…I feel like all the double digit comebacks should be enough to explain that.

Anyway, IPFW has one of their biggest weeks of the season.  They could take control of 1st place in the conference, or they could lock them selves into 3rd, or they could keep it at a three way tie at the top of the Summit League.  Man, I dislike IPFW.  Jon Coffman really loves this basketball program, and seems like a guy to not let his team drop 2 games at home in the same week.  He reminds of me of the guy that parks his 88 Toyota Celica in the back of the mall parking lot so no one door dings it, even though the bumper is covered in rust.

Denver (5-8) @ South Dakota (4-8)

South Dakota’s back court is not deep enough or quick enough to match up against all the guards of Denver.  Denver embarrassed South Dakota a few weeks ago in Denver, and the Pioneers have shown that they can play in Vermillion by beating the Coyotes by 18 last season there.

 

Summit League Predictions: Feb 10-13

I went 4-4 last week, and I have the confidence to go 2-6 this week.

If you’re wondering about my resume for predictions; I finished in the top 5% of ESPN brackets last season, so I’m kind of cool.  The worst my bracket has ever done was when I picked Kansas to win the whole thing and Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh hit a game winning shot to upset the Jayhawks.  Farokmanesh jogs on the same jogging path as me, and I have yet to scream at him, so I also have that going for me.

February 10th

South Dakota State (8-2) @ Omaha (7-4) on ESPN3

Badly want Omaha to be wrong on this game, it would be the biggest win they’ve had since transitioning to division one, but it is a really big challenge and Omaha would have to play nearly perfect.  The Omaha team we saw against Denver was far from perfect, and almost lost that game completely on fundamentals.  Omaha cannot win if Devin Patterson is 2-of-9, Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman are in foul trouble, and Randy Reed & Tim Smallwood are both hurt.

But hey, if Creighton can beat the # 5 team in the country on Tuesday, why can’t Omaha beat the # 45th-ish team in the country at home on Wednesday?

As much as South Dakota State has embarrassed Omaha since the transition, the Jacks are only a 3 point favorite tonight.

February 11th

IUPUI (7-4) @ Oral Roberts (3-8) on ESPN3

Obi Emegano only played 20 minutes in their first meeting and ended up fouling out, and hearing that would make you think IUPUI won the game.  The Jaguars were out rebounded by 12 and gave up 10 threes, though.  The Golden Eagles are on a 5 game losing streak and do not appear to have any momentum going their way, but IUPUI also dropped their last 2 games.  Oral Roberts had guys step up, who normally don’t step up to beat IUPUI, can they really do that again?

Look, I just think IUPUI is an all around better team.  Do you want to fight about it?

North Dakota State (6-4) @ South Dakota (3-8)

North Dakota State narrowly beat the Coyotes in Fargo last month, and Coyotes are a bad match up for the Bison…especially if Paul Miller won’t be playing for NDSU.  The Coyotes are going to force teams to shoot threes, and although they have the worst defensive three point field goal percentage in the Summit, the Bison do not have a lot of guys that can consistently hit threes outside of Miller and AJ Jacobson.

Something I would like to randomly point out about Omaha: The Mavericks are no longer last in three point field goal percentage in conference games.  They are 7th above South Dakota and Western Illinois thanks to Omaha shooting 41% on threes over the last three games.

Yeah, I think North Dakota State is a better overall team.  I don’t want to fight about it.

Western Illinois (1-9) @ Denver (5-6)

Western Illinois still has some fight in them, but the Denver players are really getting the hang of their system.  Western Illinois has yet to beat Denver since the Pioneers joined the Summit, and they have lost by an average of 11 points.

February 13th

North Dakota State (6-4) @ Omaha (7-4)

A sweep of the Bison?  You homer, you!

Paul Miller missed NDSU’s last game with a knee injury, even if he plays, can he be nearly as dangerous on a bum knee?  The Bison will struggle to score without Miller.

Of course I say that the Bison will struggle without Miller like a complete jerk, after NDSU just beat IPFW by 16 in Fargo.  The ‘Dons were playing that game with basically 6 players, more evidence to stick out there that IPFW is the least equipped team, of the top 4 or 5 teams in the League, to play 3 games in the Summit League tournament.

South Dakota (3-8) @ South Dakota State (8-2) on ESPN3

The Coyotes have still yet to win in Brookings since both schools joined the Summit League, and South Dakota has lost in Brookings by an average of 18 points.

Denver (5-6) @ IPFW (8-3)

IPFW only beat Denver by one in Denver.  IPFW should actually not be heavily favored in this game, Denver won 2 upsets last week by a total of 5 points.  This game could be another big game for Max Landis, and the Denver slow pace could be really good for him to have an efficient game.

Western Illinois (1-9) @ Oral Roberts (3-6) on ESPN3

Got to say, I don’t feel that confident in Oral Roberts here.  The inconsistency of both of these teams is incredibly scary to really make a call.  I am still going with I just can’t see Obi Emegano letting Oral Roberts lose to his former school.

Maybe the Leathernecks can win again if they barely play JC Fuller like they did against Omaha.  The kid has an awful shot selection, and Billy Wright decided to play De’Angelo Bruster a bulk of the minutes.  Bruster did not make any shots, but he only took 3, and he got his teammates involved and made some really good decisions on the court as a freshman.

SDSU and NDSU should make for an important week for Omaha

Currently sitting tied at third in the Summit League, the Mavericks have the most important week that they have had since transitioning to division one.

It feels like crowds at both games should be bigger than normal this week.  A big crowd on a Wednesday might seem unlikely, but there are a decent number of South Dakota State alums that live in the Omaha area, and they all act like the Jackrabbits are the Spurs.  The Jackrabbit fans did declare Omaha as the “most dangerous” Summit League team, so we have that to hold onto. Omaha’s attendance has been up this season, for a number of reasons, but they have already surpassed the amount of fans that they had all of last season.  The Mavericks are currently averaging about 2050 fans per game, and they averaged nearly 1350 last season at the Ralston Arena.  The Mavericks averaged an attendance of 1970 in the three games that the Jackrabbits played at the Ralston Arena, so perhaps with more on the line this week, the Mavericks can have one of the biggest attendance weeks they’ve ever had in basketball…or at least since transition.  There is no Creighton game on Wednesday, and Nebraska is at Wisconsin, so there really could be more Omahans playing attention to this game than normal.

Not many teams have done well when facing the Jackrabbits and Bison in the same week over the past few seasons, and now the Mavericks unfortunately have to face that schedule after dropping two winnable games last week. There is obviously some pressure for the Mavs to do well here.  Losing two straight games made this week a must win week.  Omaha dropped 30 spots in RPI after dropping those two games last week. Starting off at 7-1 in the conference, and then dropping 3-of-4 games is certainly like watching the first half of a season of The Walking Dead, getting super jacked, and then sitting through 4 episodes where 75% of each episode is awful and you just want to get to the good stuff.

If the Mavs win (especially) Wednesday and Saturday , they still hold a chance to win the regular season title, and if they lose…well then.  The Mavericks have not done well against South Dakota State since transitioning to division one, only winning 1 game.  In fact, in the 6 losses to the Jackrabbits, SDSU has shot 51% from the field and Omaha has shot 38% from the field.  Omaha has also lost those 6 games by an average of 17 points.  The last time South Dakota State came to Omaha, the Mavericks shot 27% from the floor in the game.  I remember feeling confident about the Mavericks going into that game, but a few minutes into the second half made me want to take up a stress relieving hobby.  Like brewing my own craft beers, or just drinking craft beers…okay the drinking craft beers was in my wheelhouse all along.

The good news for Omaha is that road teams do not do very well in conference games on Wednesdays in the Summit League.  This season so far, road teams are 0-5 on Wednesday in conference games, and last year they were 3-9…but South Dakota State did have one of those wins; a 2 point win at Western Illinois last season.  Summit League players must just be upset that they have to wait for 2 Broke Girls, or Arrow.  Jurassic Park 3 is on TV this Wednesday night.  Okay, maybe the crowd wont be that big with that kind of competition.

The Mavericks are going to need senior guard Devin Patterson to step up on Wednesday.  Do you have a garbage can nearby?  Patterson in his last three games against South Dakota State has shot 24% from the field and 0-of-8 on threes.  The Jacks were able to, not stop but, contain the Mavericks penetration and ability to get to the line on the 28th.  Patterson might be the fastest player in the Summit League, although De’Angelo Bruster of Western Illinois is pretty damn fast, but he has had trouble with George Marshall and Deondre Parks, and he needs to penetrate and get to the line on Wednesday night.  Anything to force one of South Dakota State’s Big 3 to the line.

I mention these shooting woes in hopes of maybe reversing a jinx.  Patterson in his career against North Dakota State was pretty poor before the start of this season.  I mentioned weeks ago that in order for the Mavericks to beat the Bison in Fargo, that they would need Patterson to play better.  In 4 career games, he shot 22% from the field 21% on threes against the Bison, but he one of the better games of his career a few weeks ago going 11-of-14 from the field with 32 points; and the Mavericks were able to pick up their first win in Fargo.  The Mavericks need that Patterson on Wednesday night.

Patterson needs help though.  Tra-Deon Hollins has to step up a notch defensively with Patterson to help contain Marshall and Parks.  He only had 2 steals against South Dakota State.  It is good and sad that I said “he only had 2 steals.”  Marshall and Parks combined for 50 points and 19-of-25 from the floor in Brookings on the 28th.  It’s not like Jake Bittle should be ignored either.  In Omaha last year, Bittle went 7-of-7 from the floor with 21 points and 7 rebounds.  Oh, and the Jacks are 15-2 with Bittle in the lineup, and 4-3 without him in the lineup…so yes, he is important.

The Jacks are not quite as good as normal on the road, but the Mavericks are also probably slightly better on the road themselves than they are at home.  The Jacks lost at IUPUI and at North Dakota State, both games were without Bittle, but the Bison just absolutely embarrassed the Jackrabbits in Fargo.

The Mavericks have to play smart as a whole to pickup a win against South Dakota State.  They cannot have the missed dunks and layups, and the bad fouls, and the dumb turnovers against the Jacks; like they did against Denver.  The Jacks best lineup of Mike Daum, Reed Tellinghuisen, Bittle, and Parks really makes smart passes on the floor together, and every single one can knock down threes.  Tellinghuisen has struggled a bit this season, and he did well against the Mavericks last season, but he should be matched up mostly with Tre’Shawn Thurman on Wednesday night.  Thurman needs to attack Tellinghuisen, who appears to be the least confident looking player on the Jacks.

Then there is North Dakota State.  The Mavericks’ win in Fargo a few weeks ago is probably the best win that they have had since transitioning to division one, and the Bison struggle on the road with a 1-3 road record in Summit League games.  But the Mavericks just dropped two games to Western Illinois and Denver, and North Dakota State is not a team that should be taken lightly.

AJ Jacobson, last week, finally looked like the All Conference player he was predicted to be at the start of the season.  Jacobson averaged 21 points and 5.5 rebounds, going 15-of-23 from the floor and 9-of-15 on threes, in two games last week against Oral Roberts and IPFW, both at home.  Before that, he had really been struggling and it was questionable if he would even be named to the Honorable Mention Team in the Summit…well it’s still in question, but you get the idea.

North Dakota State’s defense was known for being very stingy last season, but they could only force the Mavericks to 8 turnovers on the 28th, and they had no answer for Devin Patterson.  The Mavericks also hold an advantage down low against the Bison.  Jake White had 17 points and 7 rebounds against the Bison and Thurman had 16 points and 9 rebounds against the front line of North Dakota State…which is banged up and undersized.

Still, whatever officials the Summit League puts in Omaha appear to be out to get White and Thurman.  Every home game I feel like the Mav fans are going to have to put in money for a bailout fund to collectively put together money to bail an entire arena out of the slammer for an altercation with referees. s

Randy Reed did not play last week with concussion symptoms, and Tim Smallwood appeared to be playing through some pain.  The Bison played without their leading scorer this season, Paul Miller, who sat out with a knee injury, and it is undetermined when he will be back at this point.

This week could really affect how the Mavericks finish.  They could end up in the top half of the seedings, and potentially even in the lower half of the seedings after this week.  So, no pressure at all.


Looking at the schedule this week and the standings…

  1. South Dakota State plays @ 7-4 Omaha and in Brookings against 3-8 South Dakota
  2. IPFW plays in Fort Wayne against  5-6 Denver
  3. Omaha plays in Omaha against 8-2 South Dakota State and 6-4 North Dakota State
  4. IUPUI plays @ 3-8 Oral Roberts
  5. North Dakota State plays @ 3-8 South Dakota and @ 7-4 Omaha
  6. Denver plays at home against 1-9 Western Illinois and @ 8-3 IPFW

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Feb 1

1. South Dakota State, 7-2

Last week: 2nd

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

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

2. IPFW, 7-2

Last week: 3rd

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

3. Omaha, 7-2

Last week: 1st

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

4. IUPUI, 7-2

Last week 5th

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

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

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

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

5. North Dakota State, 4-4

Last week: 4th

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

6. Denver, 3-6

Last week: 8th

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

7. South Dakota, 2-7

Last week: 7th

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

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

8. Oral Roberts, 3-6

Last week: 6th

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

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

9. Western Illinois, 0-9

Last week: 9th

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

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

Summit League Predictions: Jan 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.

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

Summit League Predictions: Jan 6-9

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

January 6th

South Dakota @ IPFW

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

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

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

Oral Roberts @ Denver

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

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

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


January 7th

South Dakota State @ IUPUI

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

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

Omaha @ North Dakota State

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

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

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


January 9th

IUPUI @ Western Illinois

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

Omaha @ South Dakota

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

IPFW @ Denver

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

North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts

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

 

 

 

 

My trivial Summit League Rankings – Jan 5

Why not do some “power rankings” for the Summit League?  It’s a top 10 conference right now, and it probably still will not get enough respect from the tournament committee to get two teams into the big dance.  If you’re really impressed by Joe Lunardi’s fake bracket in July, then you might actually love something like this…but please, don’t even talk to me.  Power rankings are kind of like a movie that has a pretty good story going up until the end and you find out it was all really just a dream and you realize the story sucked all along and Blake Lively has a really short range even if she was great in “The Town”…but here we go.

1. South Dakota State

  • A 9 point win and a 4 point win over who many think to be the two worst teams in the Summit was not the best way to start off conference play for numero uno, but they still came out 2-0.
  • The Jackrabbits look different without Jake Bittle.  He may not be their flashiest player, but he is by far their smartest player that runs their offense and makes a low amount of decisions.  His injury was only listed as 2-3 weeks, but they may not be favored in a road game against IUPUI without Bittle.
  • The big question mark for the Jacks was: who were they going to play at the center position?  Redshirt frosh, and Nebraska native, Mike Daum has been the answer for SDSU and has been averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds per game in 17 minutes a contest.  Sophomore Ian Theisen has been putting up nearly 7 points and 4 rebounds per game, and both players can knock down threes.

2. North Dakota State

  • The Bison put up a 10-4 record in non-conference play even while battling with injuries to two of their top players: Chris Kading and Kory Brown.
  • NDSU recently moved Carlin Dupree to the bench and he scored 16 in 28 minutes.
  • Head Coach David Richman acknowledges that they are a young team, but they still have a target on their backs and everyone in the conference is going to give them their best.  Don’t worry about Globo Gym, they’ll be fine.
  • Curious who was going to make up the scoring for the loss of Lawrence Alexander?  Did you think it would be sophomore Paul Miller?  Miller is scoring 16.6 points per game and he is making 2.7 threes per game at 43%.

3. Omaha

  • Clearly it looks like I have issues putting them here, but you shouldn’t be surprised.  The Mavericks have won 4 games in a row and that is the longest streak they have had over division one teams.
  • In the year of the foul, they get to the line more than anyone else in the Summit League.  The Mavericks have shot 52 more free throws than South Dakota State, who has the second most free throw attempts on the season.  If you’re not a deep team, especially at the wing, you could really run into foul trouble on the Mavs.  They are also second in free throw percentage in the Summit League behind Denver.
  • Tra-Deon Hollins is still leading the country in steals.  Back courts have had issues getting the by Hollins and Devin Patterson.

4. IPFW

  • They are 12-4, but I challenge you to find a meaningful win.  Oral Roberts is their best win.
  • Head Coach Jon Coffman wanted to play more small ball this season and shoot more threes to match the rest of the Summit League, and they currently have the second highest three point shooting percentage in the league behind Western Illinois.  They are even second in scoring behind Omaha.
  • Mo Evans could be the most difficult player in the Summit League to defend, after Obi Emegano, Evans is tied for second in the conference in scoring (17.3) and he is third in assists (5.1).
  • The Dons were really excited about redshirt freshman John Konchar, who Coffman said would have been worth 5 wins last season.  Konchar is averaging 11.2 points and a league leading 7.7 rebounds per game.  He’s also 5th in field goal percentage in the Summit League.  He has been playing mostly the 4 position, so he will soon have to go up against AJ Jacobson, Tre’Shawn Thurman, and Tre Burnette.
  • Max Landis has made more threes than any other player in the League with 3.3 threes per game.

5. South Dakota

  • The Coyotes lost at home to IUPUI, but then beat Oral Roberts on the road.  They had similar situations like this last year.  Losing at home to Omaha, beating Omaha on the road.  Losing to Oral Roberts at home, beating Oral Roberts on the road.  Losing to Denver at home, beating Denver on the road.  They are a hard team to predict for.  This season they have beat Minnesota, lost to CSU Bakersfield, seriously, a hard team to figure out.
  • Last year, their defense forced teams to take the more threes than any other team in the Summit League and they have done the same thing so far this season.  So teams have to be able to knock down threes against the Coyotes.  **Looks at UNO’s three point field goal percentage…hits head on table**

6. Oral Roberts

  • Oral Roberts had a very difficult non-conference schedule, but they now have lost 6 games in a row…5 of those 6 games were on the road.
  • The Golden Eagles have the best player in the league with Obi Emegano, but after that they are an incredibly young and inexperienced team.  They are going to have a few “Seriously!” losses.
  • ORU lost to South Dakota at home without Obi Emegano, who was out with concussion symptoms.

7. IUPUI

  • Another team with an incredibly difficult non-conference schedule, the Jaguars are currently 5-12, but they did manage to beat South Dakota on the road.  They are a gritty team and head the Coyotes to 2 of 15 on threes in that game.
  • The Jaguars are playing with a large portion of their team as newcomers, so they could have some “Seriously” wins.

8. Western Illinois

  • They gave up a 16 point lead to Omaha and only lost by 4 to (a Jake Bittle-less) South Dakota State.
  • The Leathernecks are a deep team in the sense that they have a ton of players on the roster, but there is a significant talent drop off after their top 4 players.  They were an injury filled team last season, and there have been a few little injuries so far this season…but they have had the same starting lineup in every game.
  • They are an inconsistent team, in the sense that everyone on their team is incredibly inconsistent.
  • The Leathernecks do have the best three point field goal percentage in the league, but they played an incredibly weak non-conference schedule.  Yes, yes, we all know they beat Wisconsin…cool.

9. Denver

  • Starting the conference season against North Dakota State and South Dakota State was not fun for them…and now they have Oral Roberts coming to Denver.  Denver has been a good home team the last 3 seasons, but can Oral Roberts really drop 7 in a row?  Yes, it is possible.
  • The Pioneers also played a weak non-conference schedule facing no power conference teams, but they may have done this to get their basically new roster some much needed experience.

Seriously, Blake Lively was only really given 15 minutes of actual screen time in the “The Town.”

 

A few surprises in The Summit League so far

The coaches were not kidding when they said that The Summit League is a conference on the rise.  Every team has an identity, and every team thinks they have a legitimate chance at winning The Summit League.  Western Illinois with a win over Wisconsin and being 5-1 at the moment has definitely been the biggest surprise so far.  The season is still young, but we are done with the first calendar month.

I was going to come up with something looking at who the 1st and 2nd All Summit League teams were up to the end of November, but then I realized there is still a ton of basketball to be played out, so what is the point?  Instead, why not look at who and what have been some of the biggest surprises so far around the Summit?


Western Illinois with a win over Wisconsin is clearly what sticks out the most.  J.C. Fuller’s scoring going up is not that big of a surprise as he was getting better and better as the season went on for the Leathernecks last season, but shooting 72% from threes so far is big surprise.  He is not going to finish the year at 72% but he should continue to give the Leathernecks a second option after Garret Covington.

Obi Emegano being a scoring machine is not a surprise, but he has already made 21 threes on the year after making 29 all of last season.

We knew North Dakota State had to find someone to make up for the loss of scoring from Lawrence Alexander, but Paul Miller averaging 19.6 points per game, after scoring 6.7 per game last season, has been quite the jump through 5 games.

Jake White being healthy for the Mavericks has been like getting an entirely new player.  He is 5th in the Summit League in scoring right now at 16.3 points per game through 6 games, while only averaging 21.5 minutes per game.

Marcellus Barksdale did not get a double digit scoring performance until his 7th game.  He does not have a history of being a prolific scorer, but you would think the senior leader would be scoring a little more.

Tre’Shawn Thurman and Reed Tellinghuisen have caught up to AJ Jacobson.  It is not a huge surprise really.  Thurman was expected to get an increased role for the Mavericks as they lost Mike Rostampour, was Jacobson supposed to get more shots from the departure of Lawrence Alexander and the addition of a couple more post players?  Tellinghuisen is still not expected to be the main option for the Jackrabbits, but he is an efficient scorer that has added on some muscle.  The class of 2018 is a big time class for the Summit League, and there are still some junior college players and transfers that could be huge additions to the class.

John Konchar is what IPFW had been advertising.  Jon Coffman stated that Konchar would have been worth 5 more wins for the ‘Dons had he not redshirted last season.  He is averaging 11.6 points and 8.1 points per game so far.  Watch an IPFW game too, he looks like the most mature player the team has.  Coffman was also pretty big on the improvement of Brent Calhoun, but he is only averaging 1.8 points per game and shooting 31% from the field.

Nate Engesser is not starting for Denver.  He is leading the Pioneers in scoring with 16.2 points per game, but he has yet to start a game, and he is only playing 22.5 minutes per game.  Also Denver, who was thought to be the worst team in the league by many is 5-1 so far.  Many had it between Denver and Western Illinois as the two worst teams in the league, and they are both 5-1.

There are 4 freshmen averaging more than 10 points per game so far:  Konchar (IPFW), Mike Daum (South Dakota State), Dan Jech (South Dakota), and Joe Rosga (Denver).

Tra-Deon Hollins currently leads all Summit League players in assists and steals.  He leads the nation in steals as of right now.  He reminds of what it was like to play with Eddie Jones in NBA Live 99…on rookie mode.

I was pretty down on AJ Owens of Oral Roberts before the start of the season, but he is proving me wrong with 12.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, and he even leads the conference in blocks so far.  My bad.

If you look up the scores on ESPN before any games are played, and you see South Dakota, ESPN lists Eric Robertson has their must see player.  Every time.