As we highlighted in last week’s power rankings, the Summit League had failed to capitalize on its opportunities to pick up solid wins.
That is not the case thus far this week.
Overall, the league has gone 12-3 since this time last week, and two of those losses were by three points or less. It jumped up three spots to 14th in the KenPom conference rankings, and now has seven teams in the top 200. They’re taking care of business against their fellow mid-major programs, as evidenced by this tweet:
With a 3-0 record tonight, #SummitMBB is 14-2 in its last 16 games against fellow mid-major opponents for an .875 win pct. pic.twitter.com/JySP0ffqjp— Summit Hoops (@summithoops) December 20, 2016
This week, the league has its final tune-ups from the non-conference slate before league play kicks off.
1. Fort Wayne (9-3, Previous: 1)
Last Week: Win at Stetson
This Week: 12/22 at Detroit
In their lone game of the week, the Mastodons cruised to an easy 19-point victory at Stetson. Bryson Scott led the way with 27 points, four assists and complemented this with three steals on the other end. Scott seems to have finally found a role that allows him to play to his strengths (shameless plug), and the backcourt trio of Scott, Mo Evans, and John Konchar has been one of the best in the country.
2. Nebraska Omaha (7-5, Previous: 2)
Last Week: Wins at UMKC, vs Cal State Fullerton
This Week: 12/21 at Pittsburgh
The Mavericks escaped with a couple of close wins. They claimed a nice five-point road win at UMKC, but needed overtime on their home floor to escape Cal State Fullerton. They’ll need to be on their “A” game this week, as a tough trip to “The Pete” looms. If they hope to pull an upset, they’ll need to get Pitt to play into the Mavericks’ top-10 tempo.
3. North Dakota State (8-4, Previous: 3)
Last Week: Wins vs UC Davis, at North Dakota
This Week: 12/20 at Arkansas
The Bison were able to avenge their previous loss to North Dakota by returning the favor in a 17-point drubbing. The Bison have been one of the best teams in the country at converting shots inside the arc, coming in at 56.0 percent on two-point attempts. They’ll need squeeze out every point they can against an Arkansas team that scores 84 points per game.
4. IUPUI (5-7, Previous: 5)
Last Week: Wins vs Urbana, at Southern Utah
This Week: 12/20 at Northwestern
The Jaguars firepower was on full display last week as they eclipsed the century mark in back-to-back games. Matt O’Leary has become a skilled stretch-four, and is averaging 14.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game with 55.9/44.9/82.9 shooting splits. Jason Gardner and Co. will get their third chance at taking down a Big Ten team when they take on Northwestern.
5. South Dakota State (6-7, Previous: 6)
Last Week: Win vs Murray State
This Week: Win at Drake, 12/22 at Wichita State
The Jackrabbits continued to bounce back from a slow start, and have now won five of their last six. As usual, Mike Daum was a load to handle in the paint, but we’ll spare the details as he may get his own feature in the near future (another shameless plug). A great opportunity awaits them as they try to knock off Wichita State, which came in at No. 3 in our Power Rankings this week.
6. South Dakota (9-5, Previous: 5)
Last Week: Loss at Portland, Win at Montana State
This Week: 12/21 at No.7 Gonzaga
Since their 5-0 start, the Coyotes have struggled to build another win streak. They split games last week, and were only a possession away from beating a solid Portland squad. Their trip to the Pacific Northwest won’t get any easier, as they travel to Spokane to face unbeaten Gonzaga.
7. Denver (6-5, Previous: 7)
Last Week: Wins at South Alabama, vs Northern Colorado
This Week: Win vs Arkansas Pine Bluff, 12/22 vs UC Riverside
Rodney Billups appears to be building momentum in his first season. The Pioneers have won three straight, and have a pair of sub-300 KenPom opponents on the calendar this week. Joe Rosga has been one of the best marksmen in the league, and is tied for second in three-pointers made at 33.
8. Western Illinois (3-7, Previous: 9)
Last Week: Win at Milwaukee
This Week: Loss at Purdue
Hey! The Leathernecks picked up their first win over a Division-1 opponent last week with a nice win at Milwaukee. Western Illinois had five players in double-figures en route to a 16-point win, and shot the ball well from the floor. They’ll get multiple attempts at getting a win in the Hoosier state, as their next three games are at Purdue, Fort Wayne and IUPUI.
9. Oral Roberts (2-10, Previous: 8)
Last Week: Losses at Missouri State, at No. 9 Creighton
This Week: Win vs Little Rock, 12/23 vs Richmond
The Golden Eagles were sooooo close to pulling the upset over Creighton. Their offense went ice cold in the final minutes, and they fell just short of picking up what would have had a case for biggest upset of the year. Holding a dominant Blue Jay offense to only 66 points provides some hope for a defense that is allowing just over 79 points per game. They started off this week on a high note by picking up their first Division-1 win of the season over a solid Little Rock team.