Summit League Tournament 2nd round preview

We should have expected some intense match ups in the 2nd round of the conference tournament, but there is an in-state battle, and both match ups had teams split their season series.

Neither of these games are easily predictable.

For me, it’s also difficult because I did not get to really watch the Saturday night games.  I was babysitting my 5 year old niece and she was more interested in watching the Secret Life of Pets and not what I wanted to watch.  How rude?

I did watch some of the South Dakota versus Western Illinois game on my tablet, but couldn’t give it my undivided attention.  Was trying to not be a terrible uncle.

South Dakota versus South Dakota State

Monday night tournament game with a trip to the conference championship on the line between the two teams in the conference from the state of South Dakota.  So you guys think the arena will sold out?

The two regular season games between these two teams showed that these teams do match up well together.  Their best players match up at the same positions, and their benches are relatively the same as well.

The first game was won on a last second shot by the all powerful Mike Daum.  The second game saw South Dakota win after almost giving up a big lead, but the Coyotes battled through it to hold on for a 2 point win.

The difference in this game could come down to two key match ups between Mike Daum and Tyler Flack, and also Reed Tellinghuisen and Matt Mooney.

Mike Daum is going to score the ball no matter what teams do.  It’s like watching Robocop take down a biker gang at a gas station.  There are times where he almost does not seem guard-able.  He can score from anywhere on the court, and at 6’9″ he can get his fade away jump shot over anyone.  Tyler Flack is one of the few that can actually guard him.  In Vermillion, Flack got his chest right into Daum and made him struggle to get into the paint.  If Flack gets caught in foul trouble, the two back up centers for the Coyotes, Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech, cannot guard Daum in big minutes.

Mooney has proven he is one of the toughest players on the court in the Summit League.  He hits key shots, makes smart plays, and bothers opposing guards on defense.  Tellinghuisen has struggled at times of the season and been an inconsistent player all year.  He was on fire for most of the game between these two in Vermillion, but struggled to hit key shots down the stretch.  Tellinghuisen is also not the greatest defender in the league, so he will have to come up big against Mooney.  I say this, not knowing what defensive plan TJ Otzelberger will go with this game as he has been up and down with this all year.


Omaha versus IUPUI

I don’t even want to talk about IUPUI.  I’m so done with IUPUI.  They are like the more inconsistent version of the inconsistent Mavericks.

The Mavericks had one of their signature dry spells late in the first half going into the part of the second half and ended up finding themselves down 11.

Tre’Shawn Thurman and Tra-Deon Hollins were incredible in that second half.  Both of them were making huge plays for the Mavericks and were hustling their asses off.  When the Mavericks needed energy, they brought the Kyler Erickson energy to will the Mavericks to the win.  That three that rattled in late at the end of the game by Daniel Norl was seriously one of the biggest shots in the history of the Mavericks.

Still, there are things that need fixed.  The Mastodons missed three wide open threes in the last minute of that game, and the ‘Dons made the right plays to get those open shots.  When Hollins slipped on the floor giving John Konchar the wide open look, the only thing I could think was that this was my hell.

The biggest fear I would have for the Mavericks is their emotional level and mindset now.  Getting past the first round was a huge goal of theirs, and you could see the emotion in the players and Derrin Hansen’s eyes after finally earning the win.  The ‘Dons had been in their heads, and to get a win against them in that situation was a highly emotional moment for all of the Mavericks.

Now, let’s see if they can continue with the momentum and pick up another win.

Luckily, the Mavericks may find more inspiration than just getting past a team.  Their loss to IUPUI in Baxter Arena was an embarrassing loss.  The Mavericks could never quite get into the game after starting the game down 11, and it was all on them.  Omaha made bad plays, turned the ball over with IUPUI not even really playing defense, and were just outplayed in energy.

The Mavericks know how important a big start is against the Jaguars this time around, hopefully the moment can energize them to give them the edge they never found when they lost at home to IUPUI.

 

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Summit League Predictions: Feb 22-25

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

February 22

North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

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

Omaha @ Denver

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

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

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

February 23

Fort Wayne @ IUPUI on ESPN3

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

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

South Dakota @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

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

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

February 25

Denver @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

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

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

South Dakota @ IUPUI on ESPN3

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

North Dakota State @ Omaha

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

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

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

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

Fort Wayne @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

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

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

Western Illinois somehow won that game.

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

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

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

Summit League Predictions: Frantic February 14-19

Low amount of motivation and confidence in myself after going 2-6 last week, my worst week since starting this stupid thing.

Every game is going to be important from here on out in Frantic February.

February 14th

Denver (7-5) @ Western Illinois

Happy Valentine’s Day, Denver!  Get set a fine getaway in Macomb, Illinois!

I imagine being a college kid on the road on Valentine’s Day has to be rough.  Or not, actually, no, you probably don’t care.

Anyway, Western Illinois’ offense can barely get into the 60s, and they’re going to have to up that offense to match with Denver.

February 15th

North Dakota State (9-3) @ Fort Wayne (6-6)

So their match up in Fargo was a very fun game, and there were some weird moments, especially with a fire alarm in the arena going off.  The Bison won that game by 2, and these teams split the season series last year with the home team winning each game.

North Dakota State had a great week last week with a 17 point win over South Dakota State and an 18 point win over Denver, the more efficient version of Fort Wayne.  So you could be getting a rolling offense up against a struggling defense.

Fort Wayne is going to need to defend AJ Jacobson, Paul Miller, and keep Dexter Werner out of the paint.

This game could come down to who has less fouls and can actually keep their players out on the court, but North Dakota State might have the edge.

IUPUI (5-7) @ South Dakota State (5-8)

The outcome of this game, either way, helps and hurts the Mavericks.

How did IUPUI beat North Dakota State and Omaha, and then lose to Oral Roberts?

I’m just done with IUPUI.  Done!

February 16th

Oral Roberts (4-9) @ Omaha (6-7)

Essentially, this game could end up ruining the loser.  If Oral Roberts loses, they almost have no chance at making the Summit League tournament.  If Omaha loses, they’re going to have to play at Denver and then face North Dakota State at home.

Omaha’s loss in Oral Roberts stings them, the same way their loss at Western Illinois did last season.  They lost in Tulsa by 17, but were thrown off drastically in the first half with foul trouble to Marcus Tyus, and then when trying to make a comeback, Tre’Shawn Thurman picked up a technical foul at the worst possible time to give Oral Roberts the momentum to finish out the game.

Both teams are going to come out with some fire, but Omaha should hopefully have some more.

February 18th

Oral Roberts (4-9) @ South Dakota (9-4) on ESPN3

The Golden Eagles were able to beat South Dakota in Tulsa, but the Coyotes were playing without Tyler Flack and the Coyotes had no answer for AJ Owens.

Flack, while not the biggest post player in the league, is actually a quality defender that can keep other post players out of the post.

Western Illinois (5-7) @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

The Bison beat Western Illinois by 32 in Macomb.  Okay, that’s all.

South Dakota State (5-8) @ Fort Wayne (6-6) 

The Jackrabbits needed 42 points and 10 rebounds from Mike Daum to beat Fort Wayne in Brookings.  Daum will more than likely go off again considering how bad Fort Wayne’s defense is, and the fact that Brent Calhoun and Xzavier Taylor are not forwards designed to defend the Daum.

Fort Wayne went 7-of-21 on threes in Brookings, and they are a better three point shooting team at home.  They can hit the threes at home and put a deep scare of Jackrabbit fans of making the Summit League tournament.

February 19th

IUPUI (5-7) @ Denver (7-5)

Basketball on a Sunday!

The Jaguars have two tough offenses to defend on the road this week.

The only Summit League team to beat the Pioneers in Denver is South Dakota.

Summit League predictions: Feb 8-11

4-4 again last week.  This is actually a lot harder than it looks with everyone in the conference being so close.  The Tuesday to Thursday games always kill me.

February 7th

South Dakota (7-4) @ Fort Wayne (5-5)

The Coyotes defense held the high scoring Fort Wayne offense to 63 points last month, and most notably held John Konchar to 4-0f-12 shooting.  The game was a offensive struggle for both teams, and Tyler Flack was not playing in that game for South Dakota.  Can the ‘Dons have such an offensive struggle at home on a Wednesday night?

IUPUI (4-6) @ Omaha (6-5)

First off, if South Dakota loses and Omaha wins on Wednesday, they will be in a tie for third place.

Second off, IUPUI is so hit or miss this season, it’s hard to get a feel for them.  The Jaguars are also 0-3 in Wednesday/Thursday conference road games.

Third, the Mavericks had 10 blocks against the Jaguars in Indianapolis?

Fourth, there are going to be like 40 turnovers in this game, right?

Fifth, if you love half court offense, you should probably find a seventh grade YMCA game to attend tonight instead of this.

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

This loser of this game may very well be the team that does not make it into the Summit League tournament, so this game could sadly have a decent amount of intensity.  Intense like Luke Wilson and Will Ferrell chasing Jeremy Piven at the end of “Old School” intense but not that intense.

Western Illinois didn’t have a great rebounding advantage in Macomb, and each team had the same amount of turnovers, and made the exact same number of free throws, but Western Illinois made 7 more threes than Oral Roberts. That game was the 5th game in a row that Western Illinois had made at least 10 three point field goals, and since then they haven’t made more than 8 since or shot better than 35 percent on threes.  The difference in the game might not be the threes this time.

South Dakota State (5-6) @ North Dakota State (7-3) on ESPN3

It’s always fun when these two square off.  South Dakota State is on a three game winning streak with the last two wins against the two teams playing for last place.  North Dakota State has lost two in a row against South Dakota and IUPUI.

The Jackrabbits are not nearly as good on defense as the Coyotes or the Jaguars, and they don’t really match up that well against AJ Jacobson and Paul Miller.  If the Jackrabbits can play defense against Paul Miller, usually the Bison as a team do not play well.  Reed Tellinghuisen is just kind of a bad defender…

I also don’think it’s possible for North Dakota State to lose twice in a row at home.  I’m pretty sure the state has laws against this, so this is a safety thing for the Jackrabbits.

February 11th

South Dakota State (5-6) @ South Dakota (7-4) on ESPN3

What a tough week for the Jackrabbits.  Going from the bottom two teams in the Summit League at home to the top two teams in the Summit League on the road has to be a weird feeling.

The Coyotes are out for revenge after losing by 1 in Brookings on New Year’s Eve.

Seriously, are we not worried about the Jackrabbits’ safety this week?

Denver (7-4) @ North Dakota State (7-3) on ESPN3

Boring But Good meets Odd and Somehow Good.  You would think we should apply revenge factor to the Bison, and they probably will be out for revenge, but they were embarrassed in Denver.  That game probably led to the Pioneers to roll around the rest of the Summit League with a load of confidence.

Also, Denver is coming to Fargo with a week of rest.

Oral Roberts (3-6) @ IUPUI (4-6) on ESPN3

Prove that you can win on the road Oral Roberts.  I dare you.

Omaha (6-5) @ Fort Wayne (5-5) on, oh wait, it’s not on anything.

And I’ve just reached full on homer status.

I just want to start off saying that I’ve come to actually appreciate Fort Wayne fans.  They have a heart beat in them, and they engage in fun banter online against other Summit League fan bases.  They typically always back up their talk with an actual frame of reference.  If you point out something that their team is bad at, they see your point-of-view and can agree with your claim if factual. They don’t take you saying that they’re team is bad at defense, for example, as a personal attack and wish death upon your entire family like another fan base we know.

Now, the second half of conference play is a lot about revenge factor, intangibles, depth, and how you’re getting shafted on your schedule.  Sure, Fort Wayne is a better rebounding team.  Yes, John Konchar is unstoppable against the Mavericks.  Of course, Omaha has only beat Fort Wayne twice since transitioning to division 1.

Every game between these two teams has come down to the wire.  Omaha has been rebounding and playing better defensively ever since it was made obvious that they were a terrible rebounding team at home against South Dakota State.  Well that’s only two games, but you get it.  Daniel Meyer has played in the last two games like he has something to prove on the boards, so perhaps the Mavericks can actually defend Brent Calhoun for once.

John Konchar may be unstoppable against the Mavericks, but Derrin Hansen has been playing Daniel Norl off the bench more lately.  If you remember in the home game against the ‘Dons, and I’m going to throw out a guess that you don’t, Norl was the only Maverick that could stay in front of Konchar and keep the ball out of his hands.  Expect Norl to get more minutes against Konchar on Saturday.  I’m not claiming Norl is going to stop Konchar, the freaking guy shoots 64 percent from the field, but Norl defending Konchar for a few more possessions in Omaha could have made the difference.

Oddly, as much as the Mavs haven’t been able to stop Konchar and Calhoun, they have kept Mo Evans down in their meetings.  Evans has shot 37 percent in his career against Omaha, and he has shot 46 percent from the field during his career.

So if you’re wondering if the Mavericks are thinking revenge factor, and that they love playing on the road in big environments (in their minds) and haven’t been thinking about winning in the same building that Indiana lost in for a few months now…we’re wondering the same thing.

Summit League predictions: Jan 31-Feb 4

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

January 31

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

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

February 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Dakota (6-3) @ Omaha (4-5)

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

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

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

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

February 4th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

My trivial Summit League rankings – Jan 17

1. South Dakota

Last week’s ranking : 3rd

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

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

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

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

2. Fort Wayne

Last week’s ranking:  2nd 

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

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

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

3. North Dakota State

Last week’s ranking: 1st

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

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

4. Omaha

Last weeks’s ranking: 5th

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

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

5. Denver

Last week’s ranking: 8th

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

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

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6. IUPUI

Last week’s ranking: 6th

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

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

7. Western Illinois 

Last week’s ranking: 4th

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

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

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

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

8. Oral Roberts

Last week’s ranking: 9th

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

9. South Dakota State

Last week’s ranking: 8th

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

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

At least Mike Daum is balling.