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Summit League Men's Hoops: Mid-Season Review

“OHHHHHHHH! WE’RE HALFWAY THERRRRRRE!” - Bon Jovi

Anyone? No? Ok.

Alas, we are halfway through The Summit League men's basketball schedule. (Okay, slightly more than halfway, but I wanted you to all have a second to breathe after such a riveting Super Bowl.)

After the first lap (and a few more games from this week), here’s how things shook out. (Yes, I calculated in the tiebreakers – a.k.a., if The Summit League Tournament started today, here are the seedings. See you at the Denny. I recommend the Dakota Nachos.)

The Summit League MBB - 1st Half of League Play

TeamLeague RecordOverall RecordStreak

1. South Dakota State

9-1

19-6

W8

2. Omaha

7-2

13-9

W1

3. Purdue-Fort Wayne

7-3

15-10

W3

4. North Dakota State

6-4

12-12

W3

5. Oral Roberts

4-6

8-17

L4

6. South Dakota

3-6

9-13

L2

7. Western Illinois

3-7

8-15

L2

8. North Dakota

2-8

9-15

L2

9. Denver

2-7

 

L2


And, as a friendly reminder, here is the preseason poll.

The Summit League MBB - Preseason Poll

Team (First-Place Votes)Points

1. South Dakota State (34)

570

2. South Dakota (1)

470

3. Denver (1)

454

4. Purdue-Fort Wayne

384

5. North Dakota State

280

6. Oral Roberts

215

7. North Dakota

186

8. Omaha

177

9. Western Illinois

161

What in tarnation?

 

Biggest Takeaway

I don't care who you are – winning on the road is hard. With that, kudos to the teams that bring in those road dubs. For example:

  • SDSU at UND (8th in the standings right now) - 78-74
  • SDSU at Oral Roberts (5th in the standings right now) - 86-80
  • SDSU at Denver (9th in the standings right now) - 92-82

Also of note: the Jacks' one loss in league play came on the road at Purdue-Fort Wayne (104-88 defeat back on January 3, 2019).

Now, this is not to take anything away from South Dakota State or the road teams that were listed. I used SDSU as the measuring stick because they’ve been the premier team in the conference, and the teams listed (except for Purdue-Fort Wayne) all finished in the bottom half of the league after the first half of play. Are you picking up what I’m putting down?

Let me also add that SDSU notched road wins of 42 points (at WIU, 100-58) and 18 points (at South Dakota, 79-81), so yes, not every road win is a grind. But it’s significantly harder to notch those W’s in another team’s barn for a variety of reasons.

 

Surprises

Team

Omaha, good to see you. Or: "Started from the bottom, now we here." (Are the kids still listening to that song? Am I cool?)

Anyway, the Mavs have been impressive, even more so considering that they were picked second to last in the preseason poll. I know that every coach will say, “We don’t pay attention to that. We’re focused on us,” whether their team is ranked first or last. But, if we're being honest, if you see your team is picked second to last in the league, you're either:

  1. Motivated to prove everyone wrong and will put in the work to do so,
    or
  2. Motivated to prove everyone wrong until you realize what it takes to prove everyone wrong (and then maybe you just sleep in on days you don't have morning class instead of getting some shots up in the gym).

I see Omaha has gone with Option 1. Nice work, Mavericks.

Player

Stanley Umude (South Dakota) – Sophomore Guard, 6'6", 210 lbs

Summit League Stanley!

A new coaching staff plus injuries to key players plus losing their do-it-all guy in Matt Mooney meant the Coyotes knew that the 2018-19 season was going to have its challenges early on, but they were up for it. 

After only seeing the court in 14 games last year as a freshman (3.1 MPG, 1.1 PPG), fans expected improvement from Umude in his sophomore season, but I don't think anyone knew we would see what we're seeing now. This athletic sophomore has answered the call for USD, and has especially stepped it up in league play.

Umude's Summit League Stats:

  • 18.9 PPG (shooing 52.5%)
  • 5.4 RPG
  • 32.3 MPG

Oh, and if we want to talk about non-conference play, remember when Umude put up 28 points at Kansas, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time? Same. Following the game, Bill Self said, “He was the best player on the floor tonight.” Casual.

 

Sleepers

Team

Purdue-Fort Wayne

Yes, I’m picking a team that’s 7-3 in league play right now as a sleeper, simply because any team that can get on a roll and score like P-FW is dangerous (see: current three-game win streak). If they get it going at the right time, they can beat anyone. 

Konchar is a stud and has a solid supporting cast. Yes, the Mastodons were a little more up and down than people expected through the first half of league play, but when they're rolling, they're rolling. P-FW is riding a three-game win streak right now, and I see them continuing that momentum.

Plus, they have WIU tonight at home and probably want some revenge after dropping the last game in Macomb - just saying.

Player

Kevin Obanor (Oral Roberts) – Redshirt-Freshman Forward, 6’8”, 225 lbs.

He was a solid freshman through non-conference play, but then along came The Summit League, and it was like a lightbulb switched on for Obanor. He currently sits at 17.3 PPG in league play, which is tied for fifth best. He also sits at fifth in the league in field goal percentage, and also sits at 7.2 boards per game. 

Is it almost insulting that I put Obanor in the sleeper category? He has his oppononents woke. (Too much? Okay.) But again, this was a freshman that was “pretty good” in non-conference play, and then – BOOM!

Also of note: he had 31 points vs. USD (season high), including shooting 16-18 from the free throw line. Not bad.

 

What I'm Looking Forward to in February

  • Off-balance road vs. home games for certain teams
  • Crunch-time performers (foreshadoing the Summit Leauge Tourney)
  • Anything that even remotely hints at how close we are to March Madness1
  • James Taylor concert with my mom at the Denny

 

 

1 NCAA March Madness is a trademark of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Filed Under Basketball | College | North Dakota State University | South Dakota State University | University of North Dakota | University of South Dakota