Here goes with a bunch of notes leading up to the Saturday start of the Summit League tournament, the fifth edition held in Sioux Falls.
A reminder that I’ll be hosting live chats during every South Dakota State game throughout the event and will take part in preview shows at ArgusLeader.com. The first is at 4 p.m. today. To get ready for that, go out and buy our special preview section:
The Summit League is ranked 23rd out of 31 NCAA Division I conferences in men’s basketball based on the Sagarin Ratings and 22nd on the women’s side.
Using that same metric, the SDSU women will be favored by 7-20 points in any matchup even if considering Sioux Falls a neutral site. The men’s side is more tightly packed as NDSU and SDSU are separated by 0.21 points when ignoring any sort of home-state advantage. (The traditional home-court edge is worth 3.31 points.)
Here’s how the league stacks up in terms of the Sagarin Ratings.
172. Western Illinois
247. Fort Wayne
260. South Dakota
313. Kansas City
314. Omaha (tourney ineligible)
213. Omaha (tourney ineligible)
226. Western Illinois
249. Fort Wayne
295. Kansas City
As the No. 1 seeds, the SDSU men and women are guaranteed of berths in the NIT and WNIT, respectively, if they do not win the conference tournament. The Jacks have pursued hosting potential home games in both of those events, according to AD Justin Sell.
SDSU is the only Summit squad that could be given an automatic bid to the NIT, despite finishing in a tie with WIU, per event rules. But the league is certain of getting at least one spot in the WNIT - that will go to the top regular-season finisher that doesn’t win the conference tourney.
Jacks men’s coach Scott Nagy on the idea of trying to “defend” the conference tournament title: “Winning the regular season, to me, is more difficult to do than to win the tournament. Just playing well for three days where winning the conference you have to play good all year. I would say going into next year that would be more of a title defense in terms of the regular season.”
The NDSU men have been picked to win the tournament by several experts and metrics this week. Coach Saul Phillips thinks the field is wide open, but acknowledged that his club feels considerably better after the way it played in the regular-season finale at Omaha, the second game back with top scorer Taylor Braun.
“We walked out with a different feeling - it felt like it felt early in the year when things were humming along,” he said. “It’s hard to believe 40 minutes could do that to you one way or another, but it did.”
Meanwhile, WIU maintains that standout center Terell Parks is day-to-day due to a foot injury. But he looked hobbled enough during a senior night ceremony to cast doubt on his return and/or his effectiveness.
Nagy called Parks, a former juco transfer, the best center in the league.
The contrasting styles in the top half of the men’s standings is a jumping off point for a discussion about pace of play: Is it more fruitful to be fast or slow? Recent Summit history favors the former.
Since 2001, the team that led the conference in scoring offense has won five league tournament titles. That’s 5 of 11 as NDSU was tops in 2008 when it was ineligible for the tourney.
In that same time, the No. 1 team in terms of scoring defense has just two Summit tournament titles. Oral Roberts accounted for those in 2007 and ‘08.
All-session tickets for the 2014 event - the last before the tourney moves into a new 12,000-seat venue - go on sale at noon today. That’s a change from last year when the passes went up for sale during the opening session.
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.