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Summit League bracket, preview and schedule: Popular sleeper pick Oral Roberts looks to clinch auto bid

The Golden Eagles are looking to cap a perfect Summit League season with a trip to the Big Dance

Oral Roberts v New Mexico
Max Abmas was named Summit League Player of the Year after posting 22.3 points per game and leading Oral Roberts to an undefeated mark in conference play.
Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

For the second consecutive season, we could have a program run the table in the Summit League.

Oral Roberts is the candidate this year, sitting at 27-4 while running one of the best offenses in the country. The Golden Eagles picked up 10 of their 18 league wins by double digits.

Outside of that, there’s a ton of talent scattered throughout the league. If one person catches fire for a few days, we could be in serious talks of a two-bid Summit League.



Note: All games are in Sioux Falls, S.D. and all times are Eastern.

First Round (Friday, March 3), MidCo/ESPN+

Game 1: No. 9 North Dakota vs. No. 8 Denver, 7 p.m.

Game 2: No. 10 Omaha vs. No. 7 Kansas City, 9:30 p.m.

Quarterfinals (Saturday-Sunday, March 3-4), MidCo/ESPN+

Game 3: Game 1 Winner vs. No. 1 Oral Roberts, 7 p.m. (Saturday)

Game 4: Game 2 Winner vs. No. 2 South Dakota State, 9:30 p.m. (Sat)

Game 5: No. 5 St. Thomas vs. No. 4 Western Illinois, 7 p.m. (Sunday)

Game 6: No. 6 South Dakota vs. No. 3 North Dakota State, 9:30 p.m. (Sun)

Semifinals (Monday, March 5), MidCo/ESPN+

Game 7: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 3 Winner, 7 p.m.

Game 8: Game 6 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 9:30 p.m.

Finals (Tuesday, March 6), ESPN2

Game 9: Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner, 9 p.m.

The Favorite

Oral Roberts (27-4, 18-0): Wagon. That’s what Oral Roberts has been this season.

Finishing conference play with a perfect record, it never seemed in doubt that the Golden Eagles would have this kind of success.

Its only losses were to Houston, New Mexico, Saint Mary’s, and Utah State, all teams who are in the picture for an at-large bid. Their offense ranks 23rd in the nation and ranks in the top 30 of eight KenPom offensive categories.

They’ve obviously beaten everyone in the league too, averaging wins by 16.9 points.

Oh yeah, the players that make up the team are interesting too. 7-foot-5-inch Connor Vanover is insane off the pick-and-pop, and they still have Max Abmas who is averaging 22.3 points per game.

The Darkhorse

South Dakota State (18-12, 13-5): Zeke Mayo is a difference maker. The sophomore from Lawrence, Kan., has scored double digits in 17 straight games, playing no less than 30 minutes in any Summit League game.

They lost pretty much everyone else from that team who ran the table last year in the league but have been red hot, winning seven of the last eight and taking ORU to the wire in the season finale.

The Long Shots

North Dakota State (14-16, 11-7): You can’t bet against David Richman in March. The Bison are playing good basketball right now, winning five of their last six. They also have one of the best dunkers in all of college basketball in Grant Nelson. He is averaging just shy of a double-double with 17.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.

Western Illinois (16-13, 9-9): Trenton Massner will go down as one of the best players to ever put on a Leathernecks jersey. While averaging 19.3 points per game this season, it’s seemed like he’s made every clutch shot for WIU. He has that ability and the team takes really good care of the ball as it ranks fifth in offensive steal percentage.

St. Thomas (18-13, 9-9): Johnny Tauer’s bunch in the definition of disciplined. The Tommies rank first in the nation in offensive steal percentage, 10th in free throw percentage, and 81st in effective field goal percentage. It’s their first opportunity to win a postseason tournament as a DI member, so expect them to come out hungry.

South Dakota (12-18, 7-11): It’s been an interesting season in Vermillion. They have a crop of former first-team All-Summit League guys, but the Coyotes have struggled to string wins together, only winning consecutive games once in league play. The 3-point shooting has been consistent though, ranking sixth in the country at 39%.

Kansas City (11-20, 7-11): Marvin Menzies has won in the month of March and RayQuawndis Mitchell is a special talent. Outside of that, the Roos have had their struggles this season especially on the offensive end.

Players to Watch

Max Abmas, Oral Roberts (22.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.7 APG, 44.5% FG%)

Connor Vanover, Oral Roberts (12.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 51.3% FG%)

Isaac McBride, Oral Roberts (12.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 49.1% FG%)

Zeke Mayo, South Dakota State (18.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 44% FG%)

Matt Dentlinger, South Dakota State (12.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 58.8% FG%)

Grant Nelson, North Dakota State (17.9 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 53.2% FG%)

Boden Skunberg, North Dakota State (14.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 44.3% FG%)

Andrew Rohde, St. Thomas (16.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 45.5% FG%)

Parker Bjorklund, St. Thomas (14.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 49.6% FG%)

Trenton Massner, Western Illinois (19.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.3 APG, 44.3% FG%)

Alec Rosner, Western Illinois (13.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 41.4% FG%)

Kruz Perrott-Hunt, South Dakota (14.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 40.4% FG%)

Tasos Kamateros, South Dakota (12.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 45.3% FG%)

A.J. Plitzuweit, South Dakota (11.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 43.8% FG%)

RayQuawndis Mitchell, Kansas City (17.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 34.8% FG%)

Shemarri Allen, Kansas City, (17.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 41.4% FG%)

Tommy Bruner, Denver (15.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.2 APG, 40.2% FG%)

B.J. Omot, North Dakota (12.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 39.0% FG%)

Frankie Fidler, Omaha (14.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 42.9% FG%)


Just as they’ve done all season, Oral Roberts will take care of business. The Golden Eagles will reach the 30-win plateau and be the second team in Summit League history to run the table through the regular season and tournament play.