North Dakota State versus IUPUI preview

It may not be so likely for Western Illinois to score a Saturday upset in the Summit League tournament, but it may be possible for IUPUI to live some March Madness glory.

Ever since the Jaguars became serious, every game between IUPUI and North Dakota State has come down to wire except for their meeting in the conference tournament last season, a game that IUPUI’s leading scorer over the last two years Darell Combs did not play in.

Seven teams in this conference have a legitimate argument for winning this tournament, and you got to like IUPUI’s chances in this one…just a little.  This is like watching two of your friends going after the affection of the same girl, but one of your friends has a good job and his life pretty much together, while the other cannot hold down a job, barely showers, and is one bad financial decision away from moving back in with his parents.  This pal doesn’t really do anything great, but he just kind of exists and keeps chugging along in life. While you’re watching this play out, you like the second friend’s chances and you really don’t have that great of a reason.

The Bison have a systematic offense designed to find the best shot.  Their coaches preach quality decision making.  They showed last year that they live for moments like the Summit League Tournament.  North Dakota State is your friend that shows up to the party in a dress shirt and a pair of khakis.

The Jaguars play more chaotic.  Players are taking ill-advised shots.  A majority of the players appear lost on defense at times.  IUPUI is your pal that shows up to the party in a shirt that says Slacker across the chest and jeans with holes they have owned since they were in high school.  It’s possible they were hand me downs.

Your unorganized pal appears to have something up his sleeve.  Sure, he isn’t going to win the affection of the girl talking about how he just wreaked havoc on 200 zombies in some video game with a Mature rating earlier that day, but he is going to win on his personality and heart.  As much of his life appears to be in disarray, this pal is still the life of the party. That’s not to say your organized friend doesn’t have any heart, but your unorganized pal is willing to lay everything on the table for a shot at this.

The Jaguars lost to the Bison last year in the first round of the tournament without their leading scorer Darell Combs.  They struggled to find any offense in that game, and ended up only scoring 45 points.  It was one of the toughest Summit League games to watch all of last year.  Now, as far as we can tell, Combs will be in the lineup and he will be with his back court teammate Kellon Thomas, who averaged over 11 points per game in the Summit League this year.  The Jaguars have to have a sour taste in their mouth over their early exit from the tournament last season, so it must be a nice feeling to have the same team that ousted them last season.

IUPUI is not going to shoot 29 percent again in the tournament this season.  They have a senior point guard, they have a senior shooting guard, they have a senior post player that can stretch the defense, and they have high energy guys off the bench.  The Jaguars were playing like a team that needed to build chemistry all year, and it was coming together more and more all season.

I’m not saying that IUPUI is a lock in this game, just pointing out that they actually have a chance.  There is not separation from the 2 seed to the 7 seed in this conference.  The 7-9 record for the Jaguars is the best winning percentage for a 7 seed in the Summit League since 2011.  The Jaguars match up well with the Bison, and it shows as biggest point differential in their regular season meetings was a 5 point overtime win for IUPUI earlier this season.

Even with Combs in the lineup, he has struggled against the Bison in his 2 years at IUPUI.  Combs has averaged 15 points per game against the Bison, which isn’t too far off his career average at IUPUI, but he has shot 36 percent from the field versus North Dakota State against his 42 percent career average.  He has averaged 3.5 turnovers against the Bison in 2 years, but had 10 turnovers in 2 games this season against NDSU.

On the other end, North Dakota State is the best in the conference at taking care of the basketball.  They only averaged 10 turnovers a game against the Summit League, and only turned the ball over 18 times total in two games against IUPUI.

A key match up could be the two benches for the teams.  There was a total of 50 fouls called in their first meeting with each other this season, which is going to happen when the game is so close and someone is trying to put the other on the foul line to get back into the game late.

Evan Hall and Dexter Werner is a great match up off the bench.  Werner has made his career of being the best post player to come off the bench and create instant energy for his team.  Hall can muscle Werner out of the post and bother him just enough to counter that energy.  In addition to Hall, the Jaguars have Ron Patterson to come off the bench and make big plays on offense, and the Bison do not really have a guard to match off the bench, but Paul Miller will be fine if he can stay out of foul trouble.

The Bison are going to have to play their well disciplined style of basketball, and not let IUPUI’s chaos take over the game.  Otherwise the pal with holes in his jeans is going to get the girl’s gamer tag and be killing zombies online.

South Dakota versus Western Illinois preview

I have heard commentators say that if there was any year for a 7 or 8 seed to upset one of the top two seeds in the Summit League conference tournament that this would be the year.  Not sure if anyone is feeling that great about it being Western Illinois coming in for the upset in the first round, but we will see.

It is not impossible for the Leathernecks to come take away South Dakota’s NCAA Tournament possibilities, but the Coyotes are riding a 6 game winning streak into the conference tournament which is a 1 hour drive away from their campus.

South Dakota probably has the deepest bench in the entire league, and Western Illinois has the least.  You could make an argument that the one team not playing in the tournament, Oral Roberts, has more talent and depth than the Leathernecks.  With Garret Covington and Mike Miklusak it’s like watching a movie with two up-and-coming stars while the rest of the cast is made up of personalities that made their debuts to entertainment in Tosh.0’s Web Redemption segment.  The movie also has you wondering, sure the up-and-coming stars were good, but would they really be able to have an impact on a likable movie?  Everything about this should remind you that someone once made a Smokey and the Bandit 3.

The Coyotes are the opposite of that.  There is a plan, and every player on the team understands their role.  South Dakota is more like a really good ensemble film that have you leaving the theater realizing that the whole thing worked because of the great ensemble.  That is the usual typecasting that creates the Summit League favorite.

To pull off the upset, the Leathernecks are going to need their offense to show up.  The Leathernecks are a decent defensive team, but much of the team seems instructed to not take a shot on offense unless you have to.  They did struggle to score the ball for most of January and February, but they did end the season averaging 88 points over the last three games.  Two of those last three games did go to overtime.

In their two match ups, Garret Covington combined for 10-of-30 from the field.  I’m lucky enough to know enough math to not need a calculator to figure out that is 33 percent from the field.  Mike Miklusak shot 9-of-24 in the two games against the Coyotes.  So the two leading scorers for the Leathernecks both struggled against the top defense in the Summit League.  They’re going to be going up against South Dakota in what is basically a home game for the Coyotes, so I can sum that up in three words: It’s not good.

While the Leathernecks are filled with inconsistent and players that not appear to have a load of confidence on offense, the Coyotes have players that appear confident and always ready to take a big shot.  Trey Burch-Manning can match up well with Miklusak and battle him on the low block and defend him on the perimeter, and he is the perfect type of player to make every single hustle play a contender needs.  Matt Mooney can also match up well against Covington, and watching Mooney as an opposing fan is incredibly difficult.  He averages 18 points per game and it seems like he averages 12 points per game when the games are on the line.  Mooney also comes off as a smug jerk, but that’s a conversation for another day.  It’s the bands on both wrists.  It’s a typical smug jerk look.

In conference play, Mooney was 3rd in the Summit League in scoring and Covington was 4th.

If there is one fault to South Dakota’s team, it is their free throw shooting.  They finished the season 8th in the conference in free throw percentage, and the Leathernecks were not that much better at 7th.  Still, there were several moments that Craig Smith had Trey Burch-Manning on the court in the final minutes and teams knew to foul the guy who shoots around 60 percent from the line, and it definitely got scary for the Coyotes.

Again, it’s not impossible for the Leathernecks to pull off an upset, but it will take a lot.  They will need guys who have rarely shown up to rise to the occasion to make big shots on offense and big stops on defense.  We have witnessed that the teams in this conference are incredibly close in competition.

Percentage wise, they are not an above average three point shooting team either.  The Coyotes finished 8th in three point shooting in conference games, but players like Mooney, Tyler Flack, and Trey Dickerson can make the big threes when they matter the most.

The Leathernecks are essentially walking into the casino, going straight to the roulette table, and putting all their chips on double-zero green and closing their eyes.

 

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.

The most trivial Summit League rankings: Feb 21

There is no way to even pretend ranking the Summit League one to nine would even be accurate at this point.  So this week, we’re going to rank them by tiers.

Tier 1: The all around and consistent

North Dakota State & South Dakota

North Dakota State

Remaining Schedule: Wednesday @ Oral Roberts, Saturday @ Omaha

South Dakota

Remaining Schedule: Thursday @ Western Illinois, Saturday @ IUPUI

Let’s just put this out there right now:  Neither of these teams are a lock to win both of their remaining games, but they are both guaranteed the top two spots in the Summit League tournament.  The two top seeds have a day off in the bracket, assuming they win their first game.

South Dakota is playing two of the possible teams to end up as the 7th or 8th seed, so that’s nice.

Tier 2: The fun, but also frustrating to watch

Denver, Fort Wayne, Omaha, South Dakota State

Going into the final week of the regular season, all four teams could finish as high as 3rd in the Summit League or as low as 7th.  Such a weird year.  Amazingly, all four teams have fast paced offenses and struggle to find consistency on defense.  These are most likely to be the 3 to 6 seeds in the Summit League tournament, and really all of their match ups will just come down to dumb fouls being called and watch coach doesn’t lose their mind in the middle of a first round tournament game.

Might be helpful if either of them can come up with some defensive stops in the tournament.  That would be like asking Hugh Grant to actually be interesting in a movie.

I assume neither Denver, Fort Wayne, or Omaha want to play South Dakota State in Sioux Falls for the first round, and then possibly play South Dakota in the second round.

Denver

Remaining Schedule: Wednesday vs. Omaha, Saturday @ South Dakota State

Fort Wayne

Remaining Schedule: Thursday @ IUPUI, Saturday @ Western Illinois

Omaha

Remaining Schedule:  Wednesday @ Denver, Saturday vs. North Dakota State

South Dakota State

Remaining Schedule: Saturday vs. Denver

Tier 3: The IUPUI

IUPUI

The one thing keeping IUPUI out of Tier 2 is that they have so much inconsistency, you really have no idea what you’re getting when you see them play.  They pick up wins against North Dakota State and Omaha one week, and then the next week drop games to Oral Roberts and South Dakota State.  Still, they can finish as high as 3rd in the conference and as low as 8th.

Remaining Schedule: Thursday vs. Fort Wayne, Saturday vs. South Dakota

Tier 4: The Ouch

Oral Roberts and Western Illinois

Oral Roberts

Remaining Schedule: Wednesday vs. North Dakota State

I actually do not think a win Wednesday night will matter for the Golden Eagles.  Even if they beat North Dakota State, Western Illinois swept Oral Roberts.

Albert Owens had a decent year.

Western Illinois

Remaining Schedule:  Thursday vs. South Dakota, Saturday vs. Fort Wayne

Good for the Leathernecks having their final two games at home, but the team that struggles to score is going to have to figure out a way to outscore two of the better offenses in the league in three days.

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.

My trivial Summit League rankings: Feb 14th

We’re getting closer to the end of the season, and we still have no idea what the Summit League bracket will look like.  Might as well just do something like this, I guess.

1. South Dakota

Somehow, the team of mostly newcomers is the best defensive team and the most efficient offensive team in the Summit League.  Their roster also only has one senior on the team.

The Coyotes are also more dimensional than they appear.  Unlike most the other teams in the conference, they can survive stretches without their stars on the court.  Bench players are starting to come around and find their roles, and the entire team is filled with confidence at the right time of the season.

This team reminds me of old NBA and NCAA video games, actually NBA games may still have this, I wouldn’t know because I don’t play a lot of video games… but, where you can just hit a button and put in your best defensive 5, your three point shooting 5, you big lineup, your small lineup, and whatever.

I think it was generally agreed upon that the most difficult stretch of the conference season for the Coyotes was going to be their three game home stretch at Omaha, North Dakota State, and Fort Wayne and they would really prove themselves if they could get through that tough stretch.  They went 2-1 on that stretch.  We were taking the Coyotes seriously before, now it’s time to take them even more seriously.

2. North Dakota State

Right there with the Coyotes, just not quite as consistent as South Dakota, but still more consistent than the rest of the Summit League.

3. Fort Wayne

Top 3 team in the Summit League in offensive efficiency, bottom 3 in defense.

If the ‘Dons are in the first round against Denver or Omaha, they probably have the greatest chance to make it to the 2nd round.  Getting to the Summit League championship game though, seems like a challenge…but it’s going to be a challenge for everyone.

4. Denver

You take the young players of an efficient system from the old Pioneers and combine it with the fast run-and-gun type of offense like Fort Wayne, and it turns out to be pretty solid.

Like South Dakota, their roster only has one senior.  Denver’s lone senior has played 5 minutes this entire season.

I think I figured out the two teams that will be at the top of the 2017-2018 preseason rankings.

5. Omaha

I have never left or turned off a UNO basketball game before the end of regulation.  I came close and debated it when the Mavs played IUPUI in the Baxter Arena.

The Jaguars embarrassed the Mavericks, and IUPUI wasn’t doing anything special except for not being completely dysfunctional as they have been for a majority of the season.

The mindset of this team is questionable right now.  They have confidence with the base that you need to win the conference tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament, so it’s not like it’s a big deal if they don’t win all the conference games.  It’s going to be difficult to win three games in three days if your team is averaging 15 turnovers, and 12 of those turnovers are completely unforced.

6. IUPUI

It’s February and transfers Ron Patterson and Kellon Thomas seem to be finally gelling in a back court with Darell Combs

Without a doubt, the Jaguars appear to be the biggest I Wonder Which Team of Theirs Will Actually Show Up Tonight team.

7. South Dakota State

Through injuries, lack of talent, and a transfer, the Jackrabbits have a serious depth problem.  A struggling Reed Tellinghuisen was finally able to break out of a slump on Saturday with 28 points on 8-of-13 threes but while playing 38 minutes against a tough South Dakota defense, Tellinghuisen became noticeably tired and couldn’t hit clutch shots.

If Tellinghuisen can be consistently good, and Ian Theisen and AJ Hess can come back healthy and ready to go, the Jackrabbits can be a tough out in Sioux Falls…but could that be asking for a lot?

8. Western Illinois

Out of all the teams that should make the Summit League tournament, you would be the absolute most shocked if it was Western Illinois who got on a hot streak and won the tournament, right?  I think we all understand that it’s not impossible, but in the last 6 games the Leathernecks have not even reached 70 points in a game.  They’re going to need some offense to surprise anyone in the Summit League tournament, especially North Dakota State or South Dakota.

9. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles are not out of it yet, but they are currently sitting in 9th and their remaining games are: @ Omaha, @ South Dakota, and versus North Dakota State.

IUPUI’s remaining schedule: @ South Dakota State, @ Denver, vs. Fort Wayne, vs. South Dakota

South Dakota State’s remaining schedule: vs. IUPUI, @ Fort Wayne, vs. Denver

Western Illinois’ remaining schedule: @ North Dakota State, vs. South Dakota, vs. Fort Wayne.

After putting that out there, I actually don’t feel great for IUPUI.  Don’t feel great for anyone, actually.  Not even super confident about Omaha.

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.