Dom’s Summit League Picks

Since Jeff boldly went out and picked South Dakota to win the men’s championship this weekend, I feel I had better get my picks in so they can be ridiculed come early next week!

MEN

  • Western Illinois vs SDSU – SDSU
  • Fort Wayne vs South Dakota  – Fort Wayne
  • IUPUI vs Oral Roberts  –   ORU
  • Denver vs NDSU   – NDSU
  • Fort Wayne vs SDSU  –  SDSU
  • Oral Roberts vs NDSU  – ORU
  • Oral Roberts vs SDSU –  South Dakota State

WOMEN

  • Fort Wayne vs South Dakota – USD
  • IUPUI vs Western Illinois  –   Western
  • Denver vs SDSU –  SDSU
  • NDSU vs Oral Roberts –   ORU
  • Western Illinois vs USD   – USD
  • ORU vs SDSU  –  SDSU
  • SDSU vs USD –  South Dakota

So there you go, have SDSU on the men’s side and USD on the women’s side. Plenty of Summit League Tournament coverage on Kolpack and Izzo tomorrow at 9 am on 970 WDAY, WDAY/Forum team coverage begins on Saturday from Sioux Falls!

Thursday’s hot links

bisontoday

Handicapping the Summit: Fifth-seeded USD will win it

It was about this time last year when the Summit League men’s basketball tournament looked to be NDSU’s to lose. The Bison had the Summit Player of the Year in Taylor Braun, South Dakota State no longer had Nate Wolters and the Bison had the veteran team with the veteran center (Marshall Bjorklund) and playmaking forward (TrayVonn Wright). The Bison also had a defensive stopper in forward Kory Brown, always an important role in any title-contending team.

This year is one big muddled mixture. If there ever was a year when a lower seed could win the tournament, this would be it. The Bison are the No. 2 seed, but they went overtime in both regular season games with No. 7 Denver, their first round opponent Saturday. I think this tournament is going to blow up from the conventional way of higher seeds advancing. So here’s my prediction:

First round: No. 1 SDSU over Western Illinois. No. 5 USD over No. 4 Fort Wayne. No. 2 NDSU over No. 7 Denver. No. 3 ORU over No. 6 IUPUI.

Semifinals: No. 5 USD over No. 1 SDSU. No. 3 ORU over No. 2 NDSU.

Title: No. 5 USD over No. 3 ORU.

Reasoning: South Dakota is hot winning five of its last six including a convincing win over the Jackrabbits to close the regular season. The Coyotes have six players, six, who averaged double figures in scoring in Summit League games with Tyler Larson, who is one of the top overall players in the league in scoring and rebounding. They’re a veteran team loaded with juniors and seniors, look out for this team. SDSU has one of its better defensive teams under Scott Nagy, but I’m not convinced there’s enough overall scoring to get through three games. Brown’s bad knee is not a good sign for the Bison. Like a shutdown corner in football, you need a defensive stopper in tournament time and if he’s not 100 percent, that’s pretty tough. Lawrence Alexander can carry a team in a weekend series, but to do it for three games may be asking too much. Oral Roberts is intriguing after bombing the Bison, but that may have been an emotionally-charged win as much as anything after one of its top players was suspended. Over three games, reality will set in for the Golden Eagles. Fort Wayne has a chance with center Steve Forbes, but the Mastodons are also coming in losers of two of their last three including to a very average Nebraska-Omaha team.

The Field Is Set

The Summit League Tournament begins on Saturday at the new Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, plenty of anticipation about getting a look at the new building. Jeff and Jody Norstedt will be heading down for coverage over the weekend. Here’s a look at the brackets, let’s start with the men:

Summit League Men's Bracket

Summit League Men’s Bracket

 

NDSU will play Denver on Saturday night around 8:30. The Bison swept the Pioneers this season, but both were overtime wins, 61-54 in Fargo (that was the game where NDSU had just 16 points at halftime) and 73-69 in Denver (that was the game where Brett Olson hit a half court shot at the buzzer to force overtime). I’m not sure this the best matchup for NDSU, the Pioneers have given them a hard time this season and head coach Dave Richman told me this matchup is difficult just because of the offense and style Denver runs. The Bison will need to put Thursday’s beatdown from Oral Roberts in the rearview mirror quickly. A win on Saturday would be huge, considering the extra day off for the semifinals, no team since NDSU has entered the league has won the tournament playing three straight days.

As for the rest of the field, SDSU should get by Western Illinois, but could face a tough Fort Wayne team in the semis, the Mastodons get USD on Sunday. In NDSU’s bracket, the Bison could see Oral Roberts again if they advance, the Golden Eagles matchup with IUPUI in the late game on Sunday night. ORU eliminated NDSU from the Summit League tourney in back to back years in 2010 and 2011.

On the women’s side, NDSU enters as the six seed and will try to end a five year drought at the tournament on Sunday. The Bison have not won a game in Sioux Falls since 2009, the longest drought in the conference. NDSU faces off with Oral Roberts on Sunday at 2:30, the Bison split with the Golden Eagles, winning in Fargo in January, before losing big in Tulsa in the middle of February. ORU is led by 6’7 Vicky McIntyre (who by the way used the grad transfer rule that Vernon Adams just used at EWU; McIntyre graduated from Florida) and had 13 points and 18 rebounds against NDSU three weeks ago.

Summit League Women's Bracket

Summit League Women’s Bracket

South Dakota is the defending tourney champ and the top seed, and I may be crazy for saying it, the favorite. The Coyotes have shown all year they’re tough and not intimidated by SDSU, I think it’s the Jacks and Coyotes who will be playing next Tuesday afternoon for the dance and it has the potential of another great game.

Much more on the tournament as the week continues, I’m heading to Minot for the Girls State B Tournament, but Jeff and Jody will have you covered!

Monday’s hot links

bisontoday

Another trip to Tulsa

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NDSU heads to Tulsa today with the opportunity to win the Summit League title tomorrow night with a win against Oral Roberts and some help from South Dakota State.

Brett Winkelman and NDSU won a huge game at Oral Roberts in 2009.

Brett Winkelman and NDSU won a huge game at Oral Roberts in 2009.

This trip takes me back six years ago when the Bison went to ORU needing a win to lock up the Summit League championship. Or so they thought. All heck broke loose the night before, when league commissioner Tom Douple informed then Bison AD Gene Taylor and coach Saul Phillips that they would have to beat the Golden Eagles to take the top seed, which was completely the OPPOSITE of what NDSU and everyone else was led to believe that week. Going in Phillips told the media that even if NDSU lost to ORU, the Bison would get the top seed because of a higher RPI rating. Douple said that was not the case and if ORU won, they would win the title. What made this news even more frustrating was at the time the Golden Eagles were humming, winners of 35 straight home conference games.

What happened remains a great night in NDSU basketball history. Ben Woodside scored 29 points, Brett Winkleman chipped in 21 and the Bison won their first Summit League championship. The trip back to Fargo lives in infamy in terms of celebration, I remember greeting the team at the airport and you could still see the excitement in their faces the next morning.

To me that signaled a changing of the guard in the Summit. Oral Roberts had won four straight regular season titles prior to NDSU winning and the Golden Eagles won just one title after that. The Bison and SDSU have combined to win four since then(counting 2015). That night signified to me and many others that the Bison were going to be a factor in the league race and it all comes full circle tomorrow night.