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Summit League Power Rankings: South Dakota and North Dakota State to battle down to the wire

The regular season title won’t be decided until the final day.

NCAA Basketball: South Dakota at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

If you want to follow a close conference race, look no further than the Summit League.

Going into the final week of games, South Dakota and North Dakota State are tied for first, and seeds 3-8 are all still up for grabs. The uncertainty surrounding the final games should make for a fun finish to an already exciting Summit League season.

This will likely be the last edition of the Power Rankings this year, but there will be plenty of #content next week in preparation for the Summit League Tournament. Thanks for tuning in every week, and let’s enjoy the chaos.

Last week’s rankings can be found here.

Power Rankings

1. South Dakota (19-10, 10-4, Previous: 1)

Last Week: W 86-72 vs. Oral Roberts

If the Coyotes want to win at least a share of the Summit League regular season title, they’ll have to do so on the road. The final stretch of their schedule consists of two games in three days at Western Illinois and IUPUI. They won their previous matchups against those teams, but it’ll hardly be a cakewalk to the title.

This Week: 2/23 at Western Illinois, 2/25 at IUPUI

2. North Dakota State (18-9, 10-4, Previous: 2)

Last Week: L 77-61 at Fort Wayne, W 100-91 2OT vs. Western Illinois

Getting beat by double digits by Fort Wayne and needing two overtimes on their home court to beat Western Illinois raises some concern for the Bison. Like South Dakota, the Bison will hit the road for their final pair of games. Trips to Oral Roberts and Nebraska Omaha await. The Bison trampled both earlier in the year.

This Week: 2/22 at Oral Roberts, 2/25 at Nebraska Omaha

3. Denver (16-11, 8-6, Previous: 3)

Last Week: W 78-72 at Western Illinois, L 83-72 vs. IUPUI

Denver squandered any chance it had of winning the regular season title with its loss to IUPUI. That game showed how vulnerable the Pioneers can be when shots aren’t falling. They don’t defend well enough to compensate for off nights, which could be their achilles heel in the postseason.

This Week: 2/22 vs. Nebraska Omaha, 2/25 at South Dakota State

4. South Dakota State (14-16, 7-8, Previous: 8)

Last Week: 81-67 Win vs IUPUI, 97-89 Win at Fort Wayne

So...who wants to face Mike Daum in the Summit League Tournament? The big man likely locked up the Summit League Player of the Year race with his 51-point (!!!), 15-rebound performance against Fort Wayne over the weekend. The Jackrabbits have now won five of their last seven, and might be the most dangerous team with Daum playing like this.

This Week: 2/25 vs. Denver

5. Fort Wayne (18-10, 7-7, Previous: 4)

Last Week: W 77-61 vs. North Dakota State, L 97-89 vs. South Dakota State

The Mastodons have become the league’s Jekyll & Hyde team, and last week displayed both personas. On some nights, their offense fires on all cylinders and the defense tightens up. On others, the shots don’t fall and their defense gets torched. That’s why it won’t be surprising to see them win the Summit League Tournament or get bounced in their first game.

This Week: 2/23 at IUPUI, 2/25 at Western Illinois

6. IUPUI (12-16, 6-8, Previous: 5)

Last Week: L 81-67 at South Dakota State, W 83-72 at Denver

Two wins this week would give the Jags their second straight .500 season, and a win over every other team in the league. Earlier this season, IUPUI faltered late against South Dakota, and got blown out by their in-state rival Fort Wayne. Coming off a great win at Denver, the Jaguars will have their minds focused on revenge and climbing the standings.

This Week: 2/23 vs. Fort Wayne, 2/25 vs. South Dakota

7. Nebraska Omaha (14-13, 7-7, Previous: 6)

Last Week: W 83-76 OT vs. Oral Roberts

With a road trip to Denver, then North Dakota State coming to town, the Mavericks have the toughest final week in the league. They are currently fifth in the standings, but that could change in either direction depending on how they fare in those matchups. They’ve needed overtime in each of their last two games, and have struggled defensively of late.

This Week: 2/22 at Denver, 2/25 vs. North Dakota State

8. Western Illinois (8-17, 5-9, Previous: 7)

Last Week: L 78-72 vs. Denver, L 100-91 2OT at North Dakota State

The Leathernecks are basically locked into the eight seed, so they’ll get South Dakota or North Dakota State in the first round. They gave the Bison a run for their money, and will get a crack at the Coyotes this week. A 3-1 start to league play provided a glimmer of hope, but it looks like Billy Wright won’t be able to match last season’s total of 10 wins.

This Week: 2/23 vs. South Dakota, 2/25 vs. Fort Wayne

9. Oral Roberts (8-21, 4-11, Previous: 9)

Last Week: L 83-76 OT at Nebraska Omaha, L 86-72 at South Dakota

The Golden Eagles have sputtered to the end of the season by losing seven of their last eight games, and will be the lone team excluded from the conference tournament. They could play spoiler with an upset over North Dakota State this week, but this will be the third straight season that they’ve decreased their win total under Scott Sutton.

This Week: 2/22 vs. North Dakota State