Although we are only a quarter of the way through the Summit League men’s basketball season, one trend is starting to show.
Every team has the potential to put a lot of points on the board on any given night. Through the first four games, Fort Wayne is fourth in the country in points per game, averaging 90 per contest. The Dons also lead the NCAA in three-point shooting at 43%.
The rest of teams in the league are also keeping scorekeepers busy. Denver is the lowest scoring team through four league games, averaging 76 points. Last year, averaging 76 points a game would have been in the top four. It is strange to see shoot-outs over defensive battles, but it has led to many games getting decided in the last few possessions and some unexpected results.
Four games may not be a big enough sample size, but what is clear to me is that teams have more scorers, and coaches have a good idea of where they have an advantage on the offensive end. It also feels like a lot of teams are playing faster with higher possession games.There are two new coaches in the league at South Dakota State (T.J. Ozelberger) and Denver (Rodney Billups). Both run more up-tempo styles of play than their predecessors did, which also may be a factor.
As the grind continues and opponents play teams for the second time through the schedule, the numbers may start to fall off, but the ability and talent across the board may be as good as we have seen in a long time in the conference. It is hard to believe one of these teams won’t make the conference tournament, and it may be a team not used to sitting home and watching.
Recent history shows that the best defensive teams typically advance in the Summit League Tournament, but this year, it’s hard to tell if that trend will continue.