The Summit League schedule is finally under way and it’s off to a fast start. There’s been a few high-scoring affairs, and there haven’t been any blowouts yet. The games have been pretty competitive so far, as expected.
The usual suspects are at the top of the standings through a few games. South Dakota State, North Dakota State and...ORAL ROBERTS!
Every team has at least two games under their belt, so let’s take a look at how the league stacks up thus far.
1. South Dakota State (14-5, 2-0, Previous: 2)
It didn’t take long for the Jackrabbits to get back to the top of the rankings. Through two games, South Dakota State is putting up an absurd 1.297 points per possession thanks to 87 and 101 point outings. Mike Daum has been doing Mike Daum things so far, but the Jacks are more than just him. David Jenkins Jr. scored 22 in a win over Omaha, and Reed Tellinghuisen did the same against North Dakota State. TJ Otzelberger has weapons at his disposal and knows how to use them.
This Week: 1/11 vs Oral Roberts, 1/13 vs Denver
2. North Dakota State (9-7, 1-1, Previous: 4)
After dropping a close one to South Dakota State, the Bison bounced back with a strong win on the road against South Dakota. The Bison have now handed the Coyotes both of their home losses since opening the Sanford Coyotes Sports Center last year. Cameron Hunter had a breakout game against the Coyotes with 35 points, and the freshman has begun to perform well as his role expands. The Bison offense is firing on all cylinders right now, which is a positive sign for a traditionally defensive-minded team.
This Week: 1/11 vs Denver, 1/13 vs Oral Roberts
3. South Dakota (14-5, 2-1, Previous: 1)
The Coyotes had the luxury of opening up conference play with three consecutive home games, but hardly looked the part of a league favorite. The aforementioned loss to North Dakota State hurts, especially without Carlton Hurst. He’s their best perimeter defender, and it showed how much the Coyotes missed him as Paul Miller and Cameron Hunter each went off. The Coyotes are still among the league’s best, but they’ll need him to stay healthy for the long run.
This Week: 1/11 at Fort Wayne
4. Oral Roberts (7-11, 3-0, Previous: 6)
The arrow continues to point up for Oral Roberts under Paul Mills. The Golden Eagles played a tough non-conference schedule, and are reaping the benefits to the tune of three straight wins. They’ve posted the league’s best defense in those three games, and are absolutely pounding their opponents on the offensive glass. Oral Roberts has had double digit offensive rebounds in every game thus far, and has rebounded a gaudy 43.4 percent of their misses so far. An upcoming three-game stretch against the three teams above will tell us a lot about ORU.
This Week: 1/11 at South Dakota State, 1/13 at North Dakota State
5. Fort Wayne (12-7, 1-1, Previous: 3)
A road trip split is never a bad thing when you have to travel longer distances than anybody else. The Mastodons got beat up in the paint against Oral Roberts, which is probably the biggest concern for them. However, they bounced back against Denver thanks to a strong defensive performance. The Mastodons have actually been the best in the league so far at turning opposing teams over, which has been a surprising trend all season long for Jon Coffman’s group.
This Week: 1/11 vs South Dakota, 1/13 vs Omaha
6. Denver (6-10, 0-2, Previous: 5)
This really has been a disappointing season for Denver so far. They turn the ball over as much as anybody in the country, and that’s unsurprisingly plagued them in their first two games. The offense has regressed significantly in Rodney Billups’ second season, and it’s hard to foresee those issues rectifying themselves. The dreaded NDSU/SDSU road trip awaits this week, and the Pioneers could be looking at a hole that’s too big to dig out of.
This Week: 1/11 at North Dakota State, 1/13 at South Dakota State
7. Western Illinois (8-6, 0-2, Previous: 7)
Outside of Dalan Ancrum and Kobe Webster, Billy Wright just doesn’t have much offensive firepower at his disposal. Western Illinois has put up a paltry .863 points per possession so far in league play, but some of that can be attributed to their opponents. Defensively, they’ve actually been pretty good so far. They’re holding teams to just over 25 percent from three-point range, and still have Brandon Gilbeck around to protect the rim. But that offense...oof.
This Week: 1/11 vs Omaha, 1/13 vs Oak Hill Christian (Non-D1)
8. Omaha (5-13, 0-2, Previous: 8)
The Mavericks got torched by both Oral Roberts and South Dakota State in their first week. We’ve said before that the talent on this roster isn’t near the level that it was last year, and it’s clear that Derrin Hansen misses Tra-Deon Hollins wreaking havoc on opposing ball-handlers. Zach Jackson has continued to be a solid offensive option, but it’s clear that Mitch Hahn’s absence has been a hinderance.
This Week: 1/11 at Western Illinois, 1/13 at Fort Wayne