[Last 5: 4-1; Remaining Games: @SUU, @UMKC, SDSU, NDSU, IPFW]
The Summit League leaders have a fairly easy schedule, mainly because they have three home games at the end of their schedule. Two of the games are absolute wins, at SUU and home against North Dakota State. The game at UMKC is interesting, they are pretty scrappy but I'm not sure if they can pull off the upset. The two I would watch out for if I were a Golden Grizzly are SDSU and IPFW. SDSU is still in the top-2 hunt (though they need some help) and this would be a perfect place to start their push into the tournament. IPFW is a two-faced team, losing to Centenary but beating IUPUI. Oakland is good - Center Keith Benson (17.5, 10.0) who will be going pro next year, Forward Derick Nelson (12.3, 6.0), and Guards Johnathan Jones (11.5, 6.4 APG) Larry Wright (10.7) lead the Grizzlies potent offense. Beware Oakland!
Best Case Scenario: 23-8 (17-1), First Seed Worst Case Scenario: 21-10 (15-3) Second Seed Tournament Prediction: Runner-Up [Favorite-tie]
IUPU-Indianapolis Jaguars 17-8 (10-2) Second Place (MMT25 - #22)
[Last 5: 4-1; Remaining Games: @Cent, @ORU, UMKC, SUU, @NDSU, @SDSU]
IUPUI has a few potential bumps in the road coming up (at ORU, at SDSU), but if they want to win the Summit Tournament they'd have to overcome them anyways. Centenary needs to be a big tune-up game, much like WIU was for the Jags. UMKC and SUU at home are going to be blow outs, especially Senior Night (for Robert Glenn, Billy Pettiford, and Jon Avery) against SUU. The leadership of said seniors is going to be VERY interesting to watch in the last six games, as well as into the Summit Tournament (after a very quick exit last year). I think that if Glenn and sophomore swingman Alex Young can get going, IUPUI is going to tear apart everyone in their path.
Best Case Scenario: 23-8 (15-2) Second Seed Worst Case Scenario: 21-10 (13-4) Third Seed Tournament Prediction: Champion [Favorite-tie]
Oral Roberts Golden Eagles 14-11 (9-4) Third Place
[Last 5: 4-1; Remaining Games: WIU, IUPUI, Cent, @TexAP, @SUU, @UMKC]
Oral Roberts had a chance to make a HUGE impact on the Summit League last Saturday against Oakland, up 13 at the half. Alas, a second half collapse gave the Golden Eagles their 4th Summit League loss, effectively ending their run at the first seed. However, they aren't completely out of the race, an fairly easy league schedule (WIU, Cent, SUU, UMKC) matched with a big home game against IUPUI could help push Oral Roberts into second place (with some help from anyone else playing IUPUI). ORU isn't as good as they've been in the past, but they're still a tough team to beat. Watch out for their IUPUI and last game (at UMKC)
Best Case Scenario: 20-11 (13-4) Second Seed Worst Case Scenario: 17-14 (11-6) Fourth Seed Tournament Prediction: Semi-Finalist [Dark Horse]
South Dakota State Jackrabbits 13-11 (9-4) Fourth Place
[Last 5: 3-2; Remaining Games: NDSU, @OAK, @IPFW, WIU, IUPUI]
One of the biggest surprises of the year (after a 79-57 blow out at IUPUI to start the season), the Jackrabbits (who are, remember, not scary) are making a great push to the post season. There are three tough games coming up (OAK, IPFW, IUPUI), and all three could be statement games across the board. Beating IUPUI in the final game of the season both would help propel SDSU into the post season as well as bring IUPUI's season to a disappointing ending. Having a deep bench helps a lot going into the Summit League tournament, but only two seniors might lead to a dire lack of leadership and experience.
Best Case Scenario: 17-12 (13-5) Third Seed Worst Case Scenario: 15-14 (11-7 ) Sixth Seed
Tournament Prediction: Probably Semi-Finalist, but possibly Quarter-Finalist [Dark Horse]
IP-Fort Wayne Mastodons 11-12 (6-7) Fifth Place
[Last 5: 3-2; Remaining Games: @UMKC, @SUU, NDSU, SDSU, SIUE, @OAK]
IPFW has already played spoiler once (at IUPUI), but I'm not sure they can do it again. The Mastodons are one of the hardest teams to figure out, and their remaining schedule has four "well...maybe..." games. UMKC is going to be a good game, showcasing two teams that desperately need a push before the tournament, NDSU and SDSU are both games that the 'Dons could potentially win, if the right mixture of defense and three-balls show up. Oakland is a very interesting game, IPFW could come out and smoke the Golden Bears, but most likely will fall short after a long season of "should have beens". I don't expect much from the undersized and under-skilled 'Dons as the season wraps up, though they should at least handle SUU and SIUE.
Best Case Scenario: 14-14 (9-9) Fifth Seed Worst Case Scenario: 13-16 (7-11) Sixth Seed
Tournament Prediction: Probably Quarter-Finalist, but watch out [Spoiler, LONG shot]
North Dakota State Bison 9-14 (6-7) Sixth Place
[Last 5: 3-2; Remaining Games: @SDSU, @IPFW, @OAK, IUPUI, WIU]
I'm pretty sure everyone else saw this coming. The senior-laden Summit League Champions of 2008-2009 lost too much skill with Bed Woodside and crew to be any sort of competition this year. Two of their three out-of-conference wins came at D2 schools (Minot State and Dickinson State). Three very tough road games (at SDSU, at IPFW, at OAK) are followed by a big challenge at home (IUPUI). I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bison fall at at least three of those last five games, possibly four.
Best Case Scenario: 11-17 (8-10) Sixth Seed
Worst Case Scenario: 10-18 (7-11) Seventh Seed
Tournament Prediction: Quarter-Finalist
Missouri-Kansas City Fighting Roos 10-13 (4-8) Seventh Place
[Last 5: 1-4; Remaining Games: IPFW, OAK, @IUPUI, @WIU, CENT, ORU]
If anyone is going to upset the balance of the top three, UMKC could to do it. Potential wins over OAK/IUPUI/ORU could spell disaster for any of them. The problem is the Fightin' Roos are 3-8 over their last 11, which doesn't bode well facing the three top teams in the league. It's possible they could beat IPFW, a game which I wish I could be at. They should beat WIU at Western Hall though the Fighting Leathernecks are playing for their post-season lives right now. The Gents of Centenary are also in the hunt for that elusive last spot (after picking up a HUGE win at IPFW), so that game will be very hotly contested - I expect UMKC to come out on top, though.
Best Case Scenario: 13-16 (7-11) Seventh Seed
Worst Case Scenario: 11-18 (5-13) Out
Tournament Prediction: Quarter-Finalist [Possible Spoiler]
Centenary Gents 8-16 (3-10) Eighth Place
[Last 5: 1-4; Remaining Games: IUPUI, WIU, @ORU, @UMKC, @SUU]
Centenary might be catching its second wind after a surprising win at IPFW. David Perez needs to step up big for the Gents who are looking to make the post season in the face of going D3 (that's right, they're skipping NAIA and D2) for the 2011-2012 season. With nothing to lose, games against WIU and SUU, and even lowly UMKC, could help put Centenary in the post season.
Best Case Scenario: 11-18 (6-12) Ineligible for Post-Season Play Worst Case Scenario: 8-21 (3-15) Ineligible for Post-Season Play Tournament Prediction: Ineligible for Post-Season Play
Western Illinois Leathernecks 9-14 (2-10) Ninth Place
[Last 5: 2-3; Remaining Games: @ORU, @CENT, SUU, UMKC, SDSU, NDSU]
WIU has the same last six games as IUPUI (in a different order, of course), but will fare far worse than their most recent defeaters. The Leathernecks play a scrappy brand of basketball, but when your best shooter is 5-11 from three (1-4 from inside the paint) and 4 of his three-balls are from further than 24 feet, you have a problem. Also, their four top point-scorers are guards - In a tall, strong, inside league like the Summit, there's no way you can win if you're constantly shooting 25-30 foot treys. Their scrappy play and long-range shooters might get them two or three lucky wins, but don't afraid of the "Purple Puppies". Everyone else is going all out right now, and I just don't see WIU being able to keep up.
Best Case Scenario: 13-16 (6-12) Eighth Seed Worst Case Scenario: 9-20 (2-16) Out
Tournament Prediction: Out/Quarter-Finalist
Southern Utah Thunderbirds 6-17 (2-10) Tenth Place
[Last 5: 1-4; Remaining Games: OAK, IPFW, @WIU, @IUPUI, ORU, CENT]
2-9 in their last 11, the SUU T-Birds are a very confusing team. Boasting one of the leagues top scorers (Davis Baker - 16.8 PPG), as well as wins over UMKC (69-56) and NDSU (85-79)...even though they lost to UMKC in their first meeting (53-50) and NDSU most recently (79-59). I feel like SUU is a team with a lot of potential, but they simply can't put a good complete team together. They might pick up a win against Centenary at home, but their 0-11 road record foreshadows losses at WIU and IUPUI.
Best Case Scenario: 8-21 (4-14) Eighth Seed
Worst Case Scenario: 6-23 (2-16) Out
Tournament Prediction: Out