In a week full of opportunities to further improve their standing among mid-major conferences, the Summit League failed to capitalize on its marquee matchups.
With six games against opponents in the top-100 of the KenPom rankings, the league went home empty handed. Of those six games, only IUPUI kept the margin to single-digits.
The league dropped a spot to 17th in the KenPom’s conference rankings, and now have only three teams above the .500 mark. With a lighter schedule this week, it could be the last chance for teams to pick up some wins before conference play starts.
Week 4 rankings can be found here.
1. Fort Wayne (8-3, Previous: 1)
Last Week: Loss at No. 23 Notre Dame, Win vs. Austin Peay
This Week: 12/18 at Stetson
The Dons’ conquest for domination in the state of Indiana had a setback last week as they fell to No. 23 Notre Dame in South Bend. Jon Coffman’s squad has worked its way into the top 10 in points per game at 88 per contest. For Wayne should roll into conference play with 10 wins and will be the presumptive favorite moving forward.
2. Nebraska Omaha (5-5, Previous: 2)
Last Week: Loss at No. 25 Iowa State, Win vs. Montana State
This Week: 12/15 at UMKC, 12/18 vs. Cal State Fullerton
Nebraska Omaha went into its game in Hilton Fieldhouse with an upset in mind, but walked away upset with their play. They gave 91 points to the Cyclones, and continue to show an aversion to other teams putting the ball in the hoop. Luckily, the Mavericks can fill it up nearly as fast as they give it up, but they will need to lock down on the defensive end if they want their up-tempo play to translate into wins.
3. North Dakota State (6-4, Previous: 3)
Last Week: Loss vs. North Dakota
This Week: 12/14 vs. UC Davis, 12/16 at North Dakota
The Bison came out and laid an egg in a game that they should have won on their home hardwood against North Dakota. They shot an anemic 1-20 from beyond the arc and gave up 10 more points than their season average. They’ll have a chance to split the season series however, as they take on North Dakota in their building on Friday.
4. South Dakota (8-4, Previous: 6)
Last Week: Wins vs. Montana State, vs. Sacramento State
This Week: 12/16 at Portland, 12/18 at Montana State
After a brief two-game skid, the Coyotes added a pair of Ws to their win column. They got it done on the defensive end, holding both opponents to under 40 percent shooting. Tyler Flack has continued to be their most consistent player, and has scored in double figures in every game this year. The Coyotes get a pair of road games this week with a trip to Gonzaga looming shortly after.
5. IUPUI (4-7, Previous: 4)
Last Week: Losses at Illinois, at Miami (OH)
This Week: Win vs. Urbana, 12/17 at Southern Utah
The Jaguars just can’t seem to get over the hump in their close games. After flirting with an upset in Champaign (I had an incredible headline prepared btw), they fell short of rallying back against Miami (OH). Four of their seven losses have come by 10 points or less, and only have one loss of 15 points or more. They’ll have another chance at signature win when they take on Northwestern next week.
6. South Dakota State (5-7, Previous: 5)
Last Week: Loss at Northern Iowa, Win vs. Idaho
This Week: 12/17 vs. Murray State
One of the lone bright spots for the Jackrabbits has been the play of Mike Daum. The sophomore forward is one of the best players that most people haven’t heard of. He’s averaging 20.8 points per game on .526/.425/.890 shooting splits, and is pulling down 8.6 rebounds per contest. He may have to play hero ball moving forward to give the Jackrabbits the best chance of winning, similar to his 33-point performance against Idaho.
7. Denver (4-5, Previous: 7)
Last Week: Loss at Texas A&M, Win at Air Force, Win at South Alabama
This Week: 12/17 vs. Northern Colorado
The Pioneers just can’t seem to string together a win streak. They continue to shoot the ball well from the three-point range at nearly a 40 percent clip, but haven’t been able to shoot well in consecutive games. They’ll have a chance to gain some steam heading into conference play as five of their next six games are at home.
8. Oral Roberts (2-8, Previous: 8)
Last Week: Win vs. John Brown
This Week: 12/14 at Missouri State, 12/17 at No. 10 Creighton
The Golden Eagles are still in search of their first win against a Division I opponent. Unfortunately, they have four straight games against teams in the top-150 of the KenPom rankings. The site gives them a 1 percent chance of winning at a red-hot Creighton team this weekend (youresayingtheresachance dot gif).
9. Western Illinois (2-7, Previous: 9)
Last Week: Loss vs. Eastern Illinois
This Week: 12/17 at Milwaukee
The Leathernecks may become a staple at the bottom of these rankings. KenPom has them favored in only a single game the rest of the year, and it’s against Oral Roberts for that matter. One bright spot has been the play of Garrett Covington, who is leading the conference in scoring at 21.1 points per game.