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Summit League 2016 Season Recap: A step forward for a conference looking for respect

After a season that sent three teams to the postseason, we take a look at the historic Summit League campaign.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015-16 season in the Summit League was one of the best in conference history. The league's nine teams combined to win 54.2 percent of their games, their highest mark since being renamed in 2007, and the fourth-highest percentage dating back to 1982, while it was still the Mid-Continent Conference. The league set an all-time mark by beating four Power 5 teams, including one win over a top 25 team. The combined record of 53-21 against other mid-major schools was also a league record by a wide margin. Five teams finished with records above .500, and three teams reached double-digit wins in the conference season.

South Dakota State

The Jackrabbits capped off the 2015-16 campaign by winning the regular season and conference tournament for the third time in four and five years, respectively. They finished with a 26-8 (12-4 in conference) record, winning the conference tournament and earning a bid to the NCAA tournament. The Jackrabbits were granted a 12 seed and faced Maryland in the round. South Dakota State came close to adding its name to the long list of 12-5 upset winners, but ultimately fell to the Terrapins, 79-74.

The Jackrabbits will need players to step up to fill the void that seniors George Marshall and Deondre Parks will leave in the backcourt. The combo combined for 29.8 points per game, which accounted for nearly 39 percent of their offense. Luckily, they will return Summit League Freshman & Sixth Man of the Year in Mike Daum, who will look to shoulder an increased scoring load and improve upon his team-high 15.2 points per game.

IPFW

Coach Jon Coffman's second season at the helm of IPFW left a little to be desired, but ultimately can be considered a success. The Mastodon's went 24-10 (12-4) and shared the regular season title with South Dakota State. Unfortunately for them, their March Madness aspirations were quelled when they fell to North Dakota State in the conference tournament. The Mastodons earned an NIT bid, but lost to San Diego State in their first round match-up

Max Landis capped off his senior year with a Player of the Year award and First Team All-Conference selection. IPFW will miss his shooting and ability to stretch the floor. That said, it helps to have the luxury of returning arguably the best backcourt in the league. Standout freshman John Konchar, Purdue transfer and hometown returnee Bryson Scott, and Mo Evans will be the main factors in helping the Mastodons getting to the Big Dance for the first time in school history.

Nebraska-Omaha

The 2015-16 season was the best in the school's five-year history as a Division I program. The Mavericks finished with an 18-14 record (10-6), the school's first time over the .500 mark in conference. A high octane offense to the tune of 85.3 points per game (4th in the nation) was pertinent to their success, and consisted of four players that averaged at least 12.5 points per game. In addition to a third-place finish in the regular season, the Mavericks were another Summit League team to find themselves in a postseason tournament. Nebraska-Omaha matched up with Duquesne in the College Basketball Invitational, but fell 120-112.

The departure of their two highest scorers, Devin Patterson and Jake White, will require the Mavericks to either find new sources of offense or tweak their play style. Allowing 81.8 points per game (341st of 351) last year shows how dependent Nebraska-Omaha was on its scoring. A stronger commitment to playing both sides of the ball will be essential if the Mavericks hope to continue to make strides as a program.