So I will be putting together my predictions for the weekend every week of Summit League play. I want to start out by explaining a couple of my overall thoughts this season which may help explain some of the picks.
- I don’t think playing at home this season is that big of an advantage. With such a small amount of fans and in some cases none, we can’t look at a home-court advantage the same. Denver and the altitude might still play in a little different.
- With these back to backs, I feel like there will be way more splits than we think. Just think it is hard to beat the same team two days in a row.
North Dakota State at Western Illinois
I would argue that this is a game with two teams that have things moving in a positive direction. The problem is before their positive movement they started in very different spots. Western Illinois might be in a spot where the results would have been different had they been able to play with fans this season. The Leathernecks seem to have a team that plays off each other’s positive energy and it seems the same would happen with the crowd.
Backcourt: Advantage NDSU. I am curious to see who defends Justin Brookens. However, Eady, Cook, and Griesel can likely all stay in front of him defensively and that length is going to be a major issue for the dynamic junior college transfer. I really see a need for Brookens to go off in order for Western to take one of the two games. This backcourt doesn’t look like the one you can go off against.
Frontcourt: Advantage NDSU. The Bison have the best frontcourt player in this game with Rocky Kreuser and the emerging Grant Nelson. Western Illinois probably has a little more pure frontcourt depth but part of the reason for this is NDSU doesn’t use a lot of pure frontcourt players given the length in the backcourt. It will be fun for Summit League fans who don’t have a lot of exposure to this new Leathernecks team to get their first taste of the remade team. Look out for the slick shooting Will Carius, Cam Burrell who’s always battling on the offensive glass, and the talented Tamell Pearson
What happens: NDSU sweeps this one. Western will surprise some teams this year. The problem is they have a tricky first matchup. NDSU will get them out of rhythm and barring some surprising offensive performances the Leathernecks come up empty this weekend.
Kansas City at North Dakota
Summit League fans get an opportunity to see the new members of the Summit League for the first time. Will the Roos come away with a win or two in their first series?
Backcourt: Advantage Kansas City. This one might surprise a little bit,, but I am going off the belief that Desean Allen-Eikens will either be out or limited. Also, the young players for UND are going to have to be ready to battle and work to get things to work. The Roos defend and will defend this weekend. I also have this feeling after entering and then exiting the transfer portal, a focused and motivated Brandon McKissic will be guiding Kansas City
Frontcourt: I am very excited to watch two talented Summit bigs go head to head. I can only hope Filip Rebraca and Josiah Allick will defend each other. He’s new to the Summit but get to know the talented Josiah Allick. The Sophomore has made a jump this season. Bouncy and active and he can step outside as well. Speaking of making a jump, Rebraca has become an absolute star. The Fighting Hawks get the nod due to their depth in the frontcourt and having the star in Rebraca
What happens: This one is a split. It has been frankly hard to figure out what we have in Kansas City as they have played an incredibly light schedule but UND has been far from consistent. KC defends enough and McKissic and Allick give them enough punch, this is a split.
Denver at South Dakota
The one great thing about this matchup is a couple of backcourt stars in Stanley Umude and Jase Townsend, that matchup alone is worth watching. Here’s what I think happens.
Backcourt: Advantage South Dakota. The one-two punch of Umude and AJ Plitzuweit make this pick pretty easy. Jase Townsend is a great player but Umude is better. Add in there just isn’t much help and it’s an easy pick here.
Frontcourt: Advantage South Dakota. South Dakota might have the 8th best frontcourt right now in the Summit. However, Denver without Tristan Green, Robert Jones, and possibly injury-riddled Frank Ryder might be the one team’s frontcourt I would rank lower. Even without Green and Jones Denver might still have the best frontcourt player in this game in Freshmen Sam Hines. Okay never mind Advantage Denver, Ryder probably plays with one shoulder.
What happens: USD sweep. I don’t like this pick. I am not confident in South Dakota at all. I just don’t think Denver overcomes the losses of Jones and Green (nothing is officially announced they are out by the way) and the combo of Umude and Plitzuweit carries USD. This is a series in which Denver can steal a game. If either Green or Jones plays they do steal one.
Oral Roberts at Omaha
Two teams that consistently finish top half of the Summit meet in a matchup that will give us a chance to find out what we have in these two teams.
Backcourt: Advantage Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles have the star in Max Abmas and a whole bunch of others who give solid contributions in the backcourt. Marlon Ruffin’s injured ankle has slowed him down after a tough start to the season and Ayo Akinwole has struggled until their last game against K State. At this point in the season, the backcourt is advantage ORU.
Frontcourt: Advantage Omaha. Kevin Obanor is the best frontcourt player in this game but the duo of Wanyang Tut and Matt Pile gives Omaha the advantage. It really comes down to which version of Tut shows up. It will be interesting who Obanor is asked to defend and who Francis Lacis will defend. While the Golden Eagles have some depth with Deshang Weaver and even can use versatile defenders like Kareem Thompson, Pile and Tut give Omaha the edge.
What happens: I want to say ORU will sweep this matchup. It would be a way for them they belong as the predicted #2 in the conference. Sweeps will be hard to come by for these two-game series, so I think these two teams split.