This game against the Leathernecks is an important one

I know what you’re thinking.  It’s Western Illinois, and the Mavericks have won 14 straight home games, so you’re expecting an Omaha win, but don’t underestimate how important this game is for the Mavericks.

In a preseason post, I pointed out how the Mavericks’ last 5 of 7 games are on the road, so being in 1st place in the conference at the end of this 4 game home stand is the most important thing to the Mavericks. Their lack of depth and loss at Denver, makes protecting home court even more important.

Every conference game is important, but given the Mavericks only regularly playing 8 players, a day off in the Summit League tournament is what they need*. After a loss at Denver, the Mavericks are going to need to play their best basketball against the Leathernecks to gain that confidence and momentum with these 4 home games to head into the end of the regular season.

*Most of the Summit League teams aren’t really deep, so the first 2 seeds are important to everyone. Teams in the 5th and 6th spots with 2 weeks to go in the regular season might want to consider intentionally losing games to drop to the 7 seed to get a day off.

Ayo Akinwole started off the season hot, but has cooled off and gone missing as KJ Robinson has been playing strong for the Mavericks.  In the last 4 games, Akinwole has averaged 2.3 points and shot 29% from the field.  Don’t blame Robinson on this. I don’t know why you would, unless you’re a psycho, but Akinwole isn’t getting by dudes like he was at the beginning of the season.

Zach Thornhill also went missing against the Pioneers not scoring at all.

Marlon Ruffin has turned into the perfect energy guy off the bench to lift the Mavericks when the team runs into a drought.  When the Mavericks hit a lull in the game, he’s capable of starting the run.  KJ Robinson has also been that guy, but you expected that since the start of the season when you didn’t see him in the starting lineup.

The Leathernecks give up the most points per game in the Summit League at 84 points per game, and have the worst defensive field goal percentage at 50%.  So this is the game for the Mavericks to regain composure and confidence after a 2 game losing streak.

However, Western Illinois does have experienced players on their roster. Coming into the season, they had the 4th most division one minutes returning to their team in the Summit League.  They currently have 4 guys averaging double figure scoring numbers, and all 4 are capable of knocking down big threes.  I mention this, because at most Mavericks games I find myself some kid from the opposing team shooting lights out on a career day and screaming: “WHY CAN’T HE MISS!”

If the Mavericks have one of their typical lulls in the game, and they allow the Leathernecks to get hot, things could get dicey for the Mavericks.  I’m imagining a world where Omaha drops consecutive games to Denver and Western Illinois, it’s bad. It’s as bad as the time Netflix recommended I watch “Ghost Rider” as a 97% match.

 

 

My trivial Summit League rankings: Nov 12

The first week of college basketball passed on by, and now we no longer have to discuss basketball teams in terms of what they have coming back from last season.  We can gauge them on how they beat up on division three opponents and how they kind of came close against teams from better conferences.

1. South Dakota, 3-0

My preseason ranking: 1st

The Coyotes started their season undefeated in Hawaii as part of the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic with 2 neutral games against Pacific and Florida A&M, as well as a game at Hawaii.

Even though Nebraska transfer Brady Heiman was granted a waiver, it appears he’ll still be sitting out this season. The Coyotes were still able to prove they had plenty of depth with 5 players scoring in double figures over the weekend.

The Coyotes shot over 50% from the field and 50% from behind the three point line over the weekend. Three players averaged 17 points or more in Hawaii.

6’7″ true freshman Hunter Goodrick out of Australia showed off as a nice surprise averaging 7.3 points and 5.7 rebounds through the first three games.

2. Oral Roberts, 1-1

My preseason ranking: 2nd

Down by as many as 14 in the second half, Oral Roberts was able to come back and almost beat Oklahoma State. The Golden Eagles are now 2-0 against the spread this season.

With three seniors off the bench, the Golden Eagles will be a mature team and that teams will have to play a complete 40 minutes against.

Sophomore RJ Fuqua came back to the lineup after sitting out 2018-2019. Maybe it was rust, but Fuqua had 10 turnovers and shot 25% from the field through the first two games and may not be the appropriate point guard to lead this team who had the most turnovers in the Summit League this season. He almost seems to be too fast, if that’s possible.

Kevin Obanor hasn’t had a great start to the season. Coaches say the biggest jump for players can be from their freshman to their sophomore season, but sometimes a sophomore slump can occur. Obanor got in foul trouble in his first two games this season and has shot 2-of-12 on the year. He really didn’t use his large frame to get inside baskets and relied on the three just a bit much.

Still with Obanor and Fuqua struggling, the Golden Eagles took Oklahoma State to the wire and beat Houston Baptist by 14.

3. North Dakota State, 2-1

My preseason ranking: 3rd

The Bison haven’t started as hot as they would have hoped to, shooting 29% on threes, but it’s the North Dakota State Bison and they will come around.

4. Omaha, 2-1

My preseason ranking: 4th

The suspension of KJ Robinson has allowed for Ayo Akinwole to step up into a starring role, and allow Zach Thornhill and Wanjang Tut to showcase their talents as they’re being integrated into the starting lineup.

Without Robinson, the Mavericks are averaging nearly 15 turnovers a game.

Not having Robinson and UMKC transfer Marco Smith, the Mavericks are only playing with 7 players, which is depth that won’t get you too far in conference season.

5. South Dakota State, 3-0

My preseason ranking: 8th

The Jackrabbits are 3-0 with a team entirely made up of newcomers. We’ll have a little to compare them to as their first opponent, UT Rio Grande Valley will square off against North Dakota State this Friday.

Sophomore Matt Dentlinger was a huge surprise notching a double-double in their home opener.

Junior college transfer Douglas Wilson is on his way to being candidate for Newcomer of the Year, averaging 21 points and 8.7 rebounds through three games.

6. North Dakota, 1-0

My preseason ranking: 5th

The Fighting Hawks haven’t fought too hard, only playing one game so far against division three Crown College.

Paul Sather’s team will play the opposite of opponents tonight when they faces off against Gonzaga.

7. Fort Wayne, 1-2

My preseason ranking: 7th

The Mastodons only beat Division 3 Manchester by 11 points?

With not much of a point guard presence, the Mastodons look lost on offense and everything appears to be played in random.

8. Denver, 1-1

My preseason ranking: 9th 

The team everyone thought would get beat up by everyone this season actually has not looked bad to start the season.

With an 11 point loss to Colorado State and an 12 point win over Utah Valley, the young team can look to build on some confidence. They were able to beat Utah Valley with Ade Murkey scoring just 9 points, and people said the Pioneers would live and die with Murkey.

9. Western Illinois, 0-2

My preseason ranking: 6th

I don’t even want to talk about Western Illinois right now. They’re 0-2 with an understandable loss to Indiana and a 2 point loss at home to Stetson. They lost at home against Stetson only committing 5 turnovers in the game.

A not very confident Summit League preseason ranking preview: 6th place

Western Illinois

Projected Conference Wins: 5 to 8

Projected Regular Season Finish: 5th to 7th

Key returning players: CJ Duff (Sr), Ben Pyle (So), Kobe Webster (Jr)


“I kind of like this Western Illinois team” is something I have never said or heard another human being say, but I kind of like this Western Illinois team.

robocop

Now, Western Illinois hasn’t finished better than 7th in the Summit League since 2013-2014. They finished 2nd in the league in 2012-2013.

The Leathernecks graduated Gilbeck, Summit League Defensive Player of the Year, but does that even really matter? They’re going to lose some rim protection without Gilbeck, but their offense should flow much better without Gilbeck.

Gilbeck slowed down the offense, and he had the 3rd most turnovers in the league.  He had the most for any forward/centers in the conference. How effective of an offense can you run if every time you throw the ball in down low you main post presence gives the ball to the other team?

The Leathernecks also lost Isaac Johnson, who transferred to Nicholls State. Johnson was the 3rd leading scorer for the Leathernecks last season, and their 2nd leading rebounder, behind Gilbeck.

Anyway, now that I’ve said a few hurtful things, I’ll try to explain why they’re 6th.

For starters, their schedule is somewhat easy. They’re one of three conference schools to never have three consecutive away games in the conference. They at one point have a entire week of rest in between home games against Oral Roberts and Omaha. Oral Roberts has lost 3 years in a row in Macomb, by the way. At another point they have a week of rest in between playing at Fort Wayne and then playing at South Dakota.  Even after that South Dakota game, they go home to face Omaha who will be coming off an away game at Fort Wayne and one less day of rest.  After playing Omaha, they get another week of rest to play at home against North Dakota, but North Dakota will also have a week of rest for that game.  So that’s neat. The toughest part of their schedule is when they’ll have to travel to Tulsa for a Thursday night game against Oral Roberts, and then fly to Denver for an away game on a Saturday…and that’s the last week of the regular season.

Summit League teams like to go on the road and play multiple big conference schools in the non-conference season. They say it tests them and they want to play the best competition to be the best, but they really just want money.

The Leathernecks will start the season at Indiana, but they won’t play another larger conference school the rest of the way. After Indiana, they’ll play 4 consecutive home games. Their non-conference schedule won’t test them like other conference teams’ schedules but they should be able to pick up confidence as the season goes, and hopefully not get beat up and be healthy when the conference season starts.

Even with the losses of Johnson and Gilbeck, the Leathernecks return 67% of their scoring from last season, which is the 5th most in the conference.

Losing their two leading rebounders, the Leathernecks appear to lack some size, but they do bring in some post players with a collection of interesting resumes. They don’t need an all conference center, but they do need post players to rebound and not turn the ball over on offense.  Billy Wright added 6’10” junior college transfer Kyle Addington, who played on the same NJCAA Championship team as South Dakota State’s Douglas Wilson.

We’re not really going to go too far into depth about what Western Illinois is returning, because, well, even if they’re returning a lot, they were still plain bad last year.

However, they were a young team last season, and they will be returning a Big 3 of their own in Kobe Webster, CJ Duff, and Ben Pyle. Webster and Duff make up for one of the better and most experienced starting back courts in league, and Pyle apparently added a good amount of muscle, according to Wright. This team is probably the deepest team we’ve seen the Leathernecks have under Wright, but that really isn’t saying a lot. The Leathernecks are 2 players deep at every position, which hasn’t really happened under Wright.

Even though its been bad experience for the Leathernecks, there are over 8000 division one minutes on the roster, which is the 4th most in the conference. This will be the third straight year for the Leathernecks having Duff and Webster as their starting back court. That is the most games started together by any Summit League back court at 118 games. The next closest is Omaha’s back court of JT Gibson and KJ Robinson starting 99 games together in the last 2 seasons.

At 6’7″, Pyle can play like a shooting guard playing at the 4. He stretches the floor, and honestly, looking back at it I literally cannot remember when Western Illinois had a weapon like that.

Pyle definitely showed potential last season as a true freshman and certainly is an x-factor for the Leathernecks. In conference wins last season, including the conference tournament, Pyle averaged 12.6 points per game, 6.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, he shot 45% from the field and 37% on threes. In conference losses, he scored 6.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, shot 33% from the field, and 29% on threes.  In a 29 point win over Fort Wayne, Pyle was just short of a triple-double when he scored 9 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and had 9 assists. If Pyle has put on more muscle like Wright stated (the Western Illinois website lists him as the same weight as last season) and he can be a more consistent player, the Leathernecks should be able to improve on their 4-12 season.

Their conference tournament win over South Dakota State appears to giving the team a lot of confidence. They just look together as opposed to past seasons, they look like they actually give a shit in the team’s social media posts.

Expectations are never high for the Leathernecks, and 6th place would be considered an outstanding year for Western Illinois. They have a good and experienced core, and quality role players to go around them. They’ll probably never surprise us again as they did in the 2019 Summit League Tournament, but they are capable of giving everyone in the league a fight this season.

With the high team chemistry, confidence building schedule, and playing experience, the Leathernecks might finally finish better than 7th in the conference.


My trivial Preseason Summit League rankings

6th Western Illinois

7th Fort Wayne

8th South Dakota State

9th Denver

 

Some things to think about with basketball teams around the Summit League

College basketball is back in two weeks, so I’ll be coming out with some of my own Summit League preaseason rankings and obviously biased team previews over the next couple weeks.

How about we start you off with a little something to think about around the Summit League.

DENVER

The Pioneers had a disaster of a season in 2018-2019. Rodney Billups’ staff  had picked up two graduate transfers, Ronnie Harrell from Creighton and Tory Stewart-Miller from Colorado, to go along with a veteran team, and the preseason expectations were high. Some even thought the Pioneers were going to be able to compete with Mike Daum and South Dakota State for a conference championship.

Unfortunately, the team had injuries up and down the roster, and Pioneers season seemed to get worse and worse as time went on. There were only 3 players on the roster who played in every game for the Pioneers last season.

The injuries allowed for more playing time and development for freshmen David Nzekwesi and Jace Townsend, who are expected to be young leaders in 2019-2020.

As the least experienced team in the Summit League, most are expecting the Pioneers to miss the conference tournament again this season. In combination with being the youngest team in the conference, the coaching staff will also have 3 assistant coaches in their first year in their roles.

One thing helping the Pioneers is that they are one of three teams in the conference to never have 3 consecutive conference road games this season. Also, with only 6 returning players, it could be difficult to scout Denver.

NORTH DAKOTA

Did you know the Fighting Hawks had the best defensive three point field goal percentage in the Summit League last season, but the worst overall defensive field goal percentage?

Another weird stat: they were 3-0 playing at home on Saturdays, and 0-4 playing on the road on Saturdays in the Summit League.

North Dakota will be returning 68% of their scoring, and that’s the 4th most in the conference. One of their best players last season, Marlon Stewart, was slowed down with injuries last season, but is apparently the healthiest he has been in a while.

It’s hard to get a feel for North Dakota with a brand new coaching staff.

Head Coach Paul Sather appears to be quite excited about redshirt freshman De’Sean Allen-Eikens, and thinks he’s a future star in the league.

NORTH DAKOTA STATE

The Bison were picked as the preseason favorite in the Summit League, with good reason.

They won the conference tournament last season, and they only lost Deng Geu who transferred to North Texas, so they do lose some height and energy off the bench. Dave Richman has a steady track record of finding replacements, so it’s not really something to worry about.

It’s hard not to like the Bison. One thing to think about is that Cameron Hunter was playing with an injury last season. Hunter averaged 9 points a game as a freshman and saw a drop in production his sophomore year, and he’s just going to be another weapon for the Bison if he comes back at 100%.

OMAHA

Everyone in Omaha is talking about the losses of Mitch Hahn and Zach Jackson, and yeah it’s a lot to lose.

Something no one in Omaha seems to be discussing is the losses of 6’9″ Brett Barney, 6’8″ Logan Strom, and 6’11” Evan Tricker. With just 4 upperclassmen on the roster, the Mavericks will be younger, but they’re also going to lack some serious size, even with Matt Pile on the roster.

We’re going to discuss Omaha more at a later time. I think that’s obvious.

One thing to consider…The Mavericks and the Creighton Bluejays never have a home game on the same day this season. With some energy and attention brought on with a successful 2018-2019 season, the Mavericks home games could start seeing some larger crowds.

Also, did you know that last season was the first season the Mavericks have had a winning road record since joining division one?

ORAL ROBERTS

The Golden Eagles started the conference season in 2019 with three straight wins, and they eventually faced injury situations with Emmanuel Nzekwesi and struggled with consistency.

Though, they are the biggest team in the conference, the Golden Eagles struggle with taking care of the basketball. They had the most turnovers in the Summit League last season, and teams were able to outrun them.

The Golden Eagles were picked 3rd in the preseason poll, but they are intimidating on paper.

In addition to returning 83% of their scoring from last season, the Golden Eagles are adding experience to their roster. Paul Mills’ staff added two graduate transfers and will also have point guard R.J. Fuqua coming back to the roster, who redshirted his sophomore season.

Paul Mills has also stated that Nzekwesi is 100% healthy, and had the best summer that he has ever seen in all of his years of coaching.

If Oral Roberts can cut down on the turnovers and Nzekwesi is healthy, the Golden Eagles can beat anyone in the league.  Maybe even any team in the state of Nebraska.

Purdue Fort Wayne

I initially wasn’t feeling impressed with the Mastodons. John Konchar was one of the best players ever to play in the Summit League, and I’d argue that he was a better overall player than Mike Daum. Making up that loss seems like it’s too much.

I don’t think they’ll be better than the likes of North Dakota State or South Dakota, but they’ll be competitive, and they will frustrate anyone in the league.

The ‘Dons will be adding Brian Patrick, a 6’5″ transfer from Kansas State, who didn’t see the floor much for the Wildcats, but he does have experience in 4 NCAA Tournament games. In addition to losing Konchar, the ‘Dons also lost guard Matt Weir to transfer, and I thought Fort Wayne would be light at the point guard sport. Jon Coffman landed junior college transfer point guard DeMieere Black, who was made the Honorable Mention List on JUCOrecruiting.com’s Top 100 recruits list. The website also listed him at 6’3″ and Fort Wayne’s website lists him at 6’0″, so maybe just no one knows what they’re talking about.  Fellow incoming junior college transfer Jalin Wimberly also made the list. Wimberly scored 15 points on 73% from the field as a freshman. Yikes!

Fort Wayne might be the most sneaky good team in the conference, but maybe the Summit League will sabotage the Mastodons’ last Summit League season?

The Mastodons have never been particularly deep, at least since I started paying attention to them after Omaha joined the Summit League, and last year the Mastodons had 9 players play in all 33 games on the season. Can they be that lucky with health again?

That may sound like a threat of some kind after mentioning the Summit League might be out to sabotage their season, but it’s not. Welp, this is awkward.

South Dakota

With 5 seniors and 2 juniors, the Coyotes will be the most experienced team in the Summit League.

The roster has 11,455 division one minutes played on the active roster. That’s over 1000 more minutes over the North Dakota State with the second most.

According to Jeff Goodman, Nebraska transfer Brady Heiman was granted a waiver to be immediately eligible to play this season for South Dakota. It is unclear if Heiman will still use his redshirt, but the 11,455 minutes does not include Heiman.

The Coyotes are another team we’re going to discuss more later.

South Dakota State

Who gave the Jackrabbits first place votes in the preseason poll? Seriously, who? Two people apparently did this.

I’d love to meet the two maniacs who went camping on the hottest day of the year, saw who could chug a bottle of Fireball the fastest, then had a candy corn eating contest, bumped each other in the head, and then rolled down a hill into a bee’s nest…then apparently came to and said: “Yeah, South Dakota State is definitely better than North Dakota State, South Dakota, and Oral Roberts.”

The Preseason Summit League Notes in the press release for the preseason rankings said something nice about all the teams in the conference except the Jackrabbits. They couldn’t even think of a positive note about this team, but two people thought they’d be the best team in the conference.

The Jackrabbits lost the Dauminator, their top 4 scorers, and their head coach.

Western Illinois

Riding the confidence of upsetting South Dakota State, and almost beating North Dakota State in the Summit League Tournament, this Leatherneck team could be the most talented and well rounded team Billy Wright has had at Western Illinois. I understand that isn’t saying much, but it’s true.

 

 

 

 

Summit League predictions: Jan 24-27

I was 5-2 last week.  My best week.

Amazingly, Oral Roberts has no conference games this week.  They play two non-D1 opponents.  It’s like they’re an SEC football team that plays a FCS team in week 9.

January 24

South Dakota State @ South Dakota on ESPN3

How fun of a game is this going to be?  INCREDIBLY FUN.

Daum versus Hagedorn.  Jenkins versus Mooney.  Blue versus Red.  Okay, I ran out of things.

Is it wrong of me to think that the Coyotes are the best team overall in the conference, even though the Jackrabbits have the best overall player in the Summit League?  Probably not.

With their home court advantage, in what should be a sold out crowd, the Coyotes will be able to utilize more depth and a better defense.

The x-factors of this game could be Reed Tellinghuisen and Trey Burch-Manning.  They’ll be guarding each other, and have two totally different styles of play.  Whichever of them can make key plays in big moments and take control of the other may be the difference maker in this game.

January 25

Omaha @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

Each team is on a…I have no idea what to call this…a streak of conference games where you go W-L-W-L-W-L.  A Pattern Streak?  I don’t know.  I got nothing.  If the patterns hold true, both teams will win this game.  No, wait.  Crap.

The Bison have dropped 3 of their last 4 home games, which seems unheard of.  So really, what Bison team is going to show up?

I don’t think the Bison have an answer for Zach Jackson, and Mitch Hahn might be back.  So we will see what happens.  Hopefully, it’s good.

Western Illinois @ Denver

The Leathernecks have yet to win a game outside the state of Illinois this season.

Was it even noticed that the Leathernecks held Mike Daum to just 11 points last weekend?  Probably not since South Dakota State was still able to win by 28 points.  With Brandon Gilbeck being Daum’s primary defender, it plays into my theory that the one thing that bothers Daum is length.

January 27

Western Illinois @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

The Leathernecks have yet to win a game outside the state of Illinois this season.

Fort Wayne @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

The Mastodons have not won in Brookings since 2007, and Mike Daum scored 42 points the last time Fort Wayne came to town.  He also had 51 in Fort Wayne last season.

No one really has an answer for Mike Daum, but the ‘Dons don’t even have a clue.

Maybe with a full week off, the Mastodons can be well rested against the Jackrabbits who will be coming off an emotional game in Vermillion on Wednesday.

South Dakota @ Denver

The Coyotes are better at basketball on almost every level.  Home court advantage really shouldn’t matter that much.

My trivial Summit League rankings – Jan 16

This weather has me too mad for words.

1. South Dakota State, 4-0

The Jackrabbits have the best player in the Summit and they’re undefeated in the conference.

They did have 0 bench points against Oral Roberts last week. The lack of a bench hasn’t hurt them yet.

2. South Dakota, 3-1

Without a doubt, they miss Carlton Hurst’s defense, but they were able to hold Fort Wayne to shooting 3-of-20 in Fort Wayne last week.

3. North Dakota State, 2-2

An up and down start to the conference schedule for the Bison, and they have already lost 2 in Fargo, which seems unheard of.  They’re not the only Summit League team having an up and down season, but they’re probably the best of the teams having an up and down season.

Their home loss to Denver seemed like a fluke.  The Bison were finding open shots, but just couldn’t knock them down.  Denver wasn’t doing anything spectacular.

4. Fort Wayne, 2-2

They can beat anyone in the Summit League when they’re knocking down threes, but when they’re not knocking down threes, the Mastodons are kind of bad.

5. Oral Roberts, 3-2

As somewhat expected, the young Golden Eagles couldn’t stay undefeated going into a weekend on the road against South Dakota State and North Dakota State.

The team did get Austin Ruder back from injury, and the rust was really showing, but with Ruder back on the team, the Golden Eagles have more depth and three point shooting.  If Ruder can be healthy, he could make up that three point difference in to South Dakota State.

6. Denver, 1-3

I’m still lost as to how Denver was able to pick up a win in Fargo.  The Bison just couldn’t hit wide open shots.

7. Omaha, 1-3

The Mavericks were able to finally pick up a road win in Macomb and held on for a competitive game in Fort Wayne last week.  Hopefully, the team can take advantage of a week at home against a kind of bad Pioneer team and a South Dakota team playing without Carlton Hurst.

They were able to hold John Konchar to 6 points on Saturday night, which is actually one of their bigger accomplishments this season.

8. Western Illinois, 0-3

Everything make sense again.

Summit League predictions: Jan 11-13

I don’t want to be that guy that just picks all the home teams, but I just really like all the home teams in their match ups this week.

January 11

South Dakota @ Fort Wayne

A little surprised this game is not on ESPN3, but what are you gonna do?

Carlton Hurst is going to be out with a broken hand, so who can guard Bryson Scott is a very big question mark for the Coyotes.

Omaha @ Western Illinois

So there probably won’t be a ton of defense in this game, but the Mavericks are starting to get a few things to click, finally.  The Mavericks know this is a winnable game, and if they put in the effort and energy they can overcome the Leathernecks’ home court advantage.

Denver @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

Denver is currently struggling, and they have yet to get a win in Fargo since joining the Summit League.  The Bison might not have anyone to match up with Daniel Amigo, but they can defend Denver at every other position on the floor.

Oral Roberts @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

This is actually a tough pick, and it should be since these are the only two undefeated teams in the league.  The Golden Eagles have three different looks to throw at Mike Daum with Javan White, Emmanuel Nzekwesi, and Albert Owens…also, how hard is it going to be for Reed Tellinghuisen to guard any of those guys?

I don’t like how much I am talking myself into Oral Roberts right now, but I will take the Jackrabbits at home.  They are an 11 point favorite, and I feel like Oral Roberts will end it at a closer game than that.


January 13

Denver @ South Dakota State

Daniel Amigo averaged 7.3 points and shot 24% against the Jackrabbits last season in 3 games.  So that might be bad.

Oral Roberts @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

What a tough week for Oral Roberts.  This is a game that is another mismatch for them, and in their favor.  They’re not a bad defensive team, and they can really force it down low against a smaller Bison team.  If there is any game that I have the least amount of confidence in, it is this one.

Omaha @ Fort Wayne

The Mavericks really seemed to have a weight lifted off of their shoulders when they defeated Fort Wayne in the Summit League tournament last season, but they are an entirely new team now.

Fort Wayne has been quite inconsistent, but Omaha has been bad at guarding John Konchar.  Terrible, actually.  Zach Jackson will likely be the primary defender to Konchar, but Daniel Norl actually did a decent job in his minutes defending Konchar in Omaha last season.  Konchar went 13-of-15 in Omaha last season, and I’m pretty sure both shots were missed when Norl was guarding him.

The good thing about this game is that we can finally unravel the conspiracy that Xzavier Taylor and Lamar Wofford-Humphrey are two different people.