January 3, 2011

Summit League Power Rankings and Awards - 01/03/2011

The time has come where we can actually gauge the performances of the Summit League's members so far. Every Monday, give or take a couple special exceptions where it will be moved to Tuesday, I'll be releasing my thoughts on the Summit League and each team's ranking compared to each other. It should be noted that the power rankings are, and will be, based on Summit League play ONLY thing weighing on my decision where to rank each team.


1) Oakland 9-8 (4-0)
BB State: 92
RPI: 72
SOS: 55
Greg Kampe's team could absolutely go undefeated in the League this year, especially after their dominating performance in Tulsa, where most teams seem to forget how good they are. Keith Benson is ridiculously good, and when he draws the double team (which is nearly every time he touches the ball), someone else is left unguarded and they've been just as dangerous as Benson. With half of the Big Ten in their rear view mirror, OU looks like a home run champion who just took off their warm-up bat weight. They've come out swinging for the fences, and no one in the Summit League looks able do much about it.

2) IPFW 9-4 (4-0)
BB State: 150
RPI: 117
SOS: 285
Absolutely the biggest shock of the season, IPFW also went into Tulsa and beat Oral Roberts the same as Oakland. I have a few reservations about the 'Dons, especially after they barely beat UMKC. They have five players averaging between 8.5 and 14.8 points per game, as well as nine players who have all show their faces for more than 11 minutes per game. Dane Fife is doing it with all kinds of help, pushing his kids to a true team effort.

3) Oral Roberts 5-10 (2-2)
BB State: 172
RPI: 72
SOS: 55
The Masters of the Mid Major Upset have done little this year to remain the sole guru, but hey, it's the Summit League. Oakland's start last year wasn't anything to shake a stick at, but then they plowed through The League like an angry bull plows through Spaniards on the streets of Barcelona. So far ORU has dropped games at home to Oakland and IPFW, though regaining home court advantage will be what determines how high they finish at the end of the season. In the upcoming weekend, they'll face SDST and NDSU, a trip that should finally show what kind of program Scott Sutton has this year.

T-4) South Dakota State 10-4 (2-1)
BB State: 162
RPI: 149
SOS: 287
The Jacks are back. They have a kid named Nate Wolters who, by all accounts, is the next Ben Woodside. For the entire Summit League, this is terrible news. Wolters is shooting 48.8% from superhoopland, and leads the League in points and assists per game as well as assists-to-turnovers. An early loss to North Dakota State shouldn't be a reflection on the way they dismantled UMKC and out-gunned Southern Utah. They are going to be a very dangerous squad down the stretch.

T-4) IUPUI 8-8 (2-1)
BB State: 140
RPI: 164
SOS: 163
The Jaguar's sole loss in the conference was to Oral Roberts on a last-second shot, but they haven't been overly impressive by any means. Centenary nearly came back at The Jungle, and WIU (minus Ceola Clark III) was able to claw back from 24-down to 11-down in the second half. Outside of the conference, the Jaguars have struggled with their identity, and an extremely important trip to Rochester and Fort Wayne awaits them this weekend.

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6) North Dakota State 7-6 (1-2)
BB State: 160
RPI: 196
SOS: 281
North Dakota State has fallen a long way from their days in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, but they're better than they were last year. Despite beating South Dakota State, they fell to both UMKC and Southern Utah. Expect to NDSU to make some noise around the middle, but with their inability to beat two of bottom teams (UMKC & SUU), they haven't done much to impress me so far. Watch out for Michael Tveidt 

7) UMKC 8-6 (1-3)
BB State: 289
RPI: 247
SOS: 328
The four teams at the bottom are all pretty bad, and so far UMKC has the most notable win. They were up 20 on NDSU at the half and won on a tip-in as time expired. So, that should tell you  how bad the rest have been. The Fightin' Roos are in the top 150 nationally in just three categories: three point field goal percent, efficiency field goal percent, and points per shot. Defensively, they aren't in the top 240 of any category.

8) Southern Utah 4-10 (1-3)
BB State: 321
RPI: 263
SOS: 171
Southern Utah also beat North Dakota State, and nearly beat South Dakota State in a shootout (lost 105-95), but their defense is absolutely atrocious. They've allowed 105, 81, and 76 in their losses to SDST, Oakland, and IPFW respectively. While IPFW is using different players effectively, SUU is just throwing them out onto the court, hoping something good happens. Every player but one averages around 10-20 minutes, but only one averages more than 10 points. 

9) Western Illinois 6-7 (1-2)
BB State: 251
RPI: 326
SOS: 342
I know I said this was supposed to be just about each team's play in within the league, but it is awfully hard to ignore a 6-7 record against the fourth-to-easiest schedule in the nation. Ceola Clark III, the Leatherneck's best player, has missed seven games due to injury. Five players, Clark included, have missed significant time. None of these things bode well for a defense-based team is only scoring 56.7 points per game.

10) Centenary 0-15 (0-4)
BB State: 345
RPI: 343
SOS: 296
Poor, poor Centenary. Coach Adam Walsh is doing everything he can to get one or two victories before his team disappears into the abyss of Division-3 college athletics. Their best League game was at Western Illinois where they were within six at the end, immediately following keeping IUPUI close. Bad news is they travel up all the way up to the Dakotas this weekend.



Player of the (So Far): Dominique Morrison, Oral Roberts.
In the four League games so far, Morrison is averaging 25.5ppg (66.0% FG, 55.0% 3P, ), 4.5 rpg, 1.75 apg, and an efficiency of 25. While Keith Benson might be the most dominant post player, Morrison is able to take over the game from a plethora of locations. His size (6-6, 210lbs) allows him to post up against nearly anyone in the League, but he can still pull back and hit superhoops at a ridiculous rate.

Biggest Surprise (So Far): IPFW
The 'Dons beating Oral Roberts in Tulsa was extremely impressive, though the fact they've only played 13 games and a very easy travel schedule (not leaving Illinois/Indiana/Ohio before going to Oklahoma) helped. Either way, no one expected them to win.

Stat of the (So Far): (The Tiers Exist! BBState.com rankings)
Tier 1: Oakland (92).
Tier 2: IUPUI (140), IPFW (150), Oral Roberts (172), North Dakota State (160), South Dakota State (162).
Tier 3: Western Illinois (251), UMKC (289), Southern Utah (321), Centenary (345).
Though they aren't exactly the same as they were in the pre-season, but they are there. Oakland is the clear favorite at #92, including their victory over then #7 Tennessee. The next tier includes IUPUI, IPFW, Oral Roberts, NDSU, and SDST, all of whom have a very real possibility of ending up second in the conference. Their tier ranges from 140-172. The final tier is WIU, UMKC, Southern Utah, and Centenary. They will battle it out amongst themselves to see who can get the coveted eighth spot, the seed that is basically going to be a sacrifice to Oakland in the first round of the tournament.

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