Here’s a look at where things stand in Summit League men’s basketball as things get set to ramp up this week. There were two conference games Thursday and five more set for Saturday, including South Dakota State at North Dakota State. I’ll have live coverage from Fargo:
StatSheet.com ranks the teams in the following order so far in terms of RPI:
68. NDSU (10-3)
97. SDSU (10-4)
115. Oakland (5-9)
164. Western Illinois (9-3)
250. Kansas City (4-8)
260. IUPUI (6-10)
263. USD (5-8)
303. Fort Wayne (6-8)
307. Omaha (2-11)
The top four square off this week. Already, WIU gained a rare win over Oakland in Macomb to improve to 3-0 in league play. Up next, the Bison hosting the Jacks. Holding serve at home is expected – it’s road wins that will swing the standings.
One thing to keep an eye on in NDSU vs. SDSU: The teams are basically even in offensive points per possession, but the Bison have an edge of 0.89 to 1.02 in defensive points per possession.
The Jacks are ranked 13th in the mid-major poll, while NDSU is 22nd. But the Bison have the edge in most metrics – the Sagarin Ratings have them as a 13-point favorite – and are being projected by ESPN and CBS as the eventual Summit rep in the Big Dance. SDSU was the official preseason pick and is the defending conference tournament champ, while reigning regular-season king Oral Roberts is now a member of the Southland Conference.
As a whole, the league is down a bit compared to last year, checking in at No. 20 (instead of 16, an all-time best) in terms of RPI, according to StatSheet. (Sidenote: Get used to the StatSheet references. Fantastic site. Can’t believe I wasn’t aware of it until recently.)
The Sagarin Ratings have Oakland at No. 5 in all of Division in terms of strength of schedule. Newcomer Omaha is next at 89th.
Remember when SDSU beat then No. 16-ranked New Mexico on Saturday? The Lobos turned around and beat No. 8 and previously undefeated Cincinnati on the road Thursday night.
Fort Wayne standout guard Frank Gaines, a 20-point scorer last season, was suspended one game earlier this season for conduct detrimental to the team.
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.