Summit League

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Introducing Cinderella: Meet the North Dakota State Bison

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Conference: Summit League

Coach: Dave Richman

Record: 23-9 (12-4)

Ratings and rankings:

Kenpom: 158
RPI (per NCAA.com): 108
AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: In our latest bracket top seed South Dakota State was seen as a 15-seed, but North Dakota State could land on the 16 line.

Names you need to know: Lawrence Alexander (18.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg), A.J. Jacobson (11.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg), Kory Brown (8.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Carlin Dupree (7.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.7 apg)

Stats you need to know: The Bison shoot 38.1 percent from three and they’ve scored nearly 32 percent of their points by way of the three-point shot entering Tuesday’s game. What will also help the Bison in the NCAA tournament is the fact that they’re one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country. NDSU ranks third nationally in defensive rebounding percentage (77.1 percent), and they accomplish this by committee with seven players averaging between 3.7 and 5.4 rebounds per game. The tallest player of those seven: 6-foot-8 Chris Kading (4.0 rpg).

Tendencies: With Marshall Bjorklund and Taylor Braun gone from last season’s team, it’s understandable that the Bison don’t convert inside of the arc as well as they did in 2013-14. After shooting 55.4 percent from two last season (ranking sixth nationally), North Dakota State are making just over 45 percent of those looks this season. That’s why they’ve relied so much on the perimeter shot, with Alexander (94), Jacobson (52) and Paul Miller (34) being the leaders in three-pointers made. Defensively, the Bison play man the majority of the time.

Big wins, bad losses: Their best non-conference win came at home against Akron. Outside of that there isn’t a whole lot to sell when it comes to getting off of the 16-line. The Bison have two wins over South Dakota State, but their losses include Southern Miss, South Dakota and Oral Roberts.

How’d they get here: North Dakota State won the Summit League tournament as the two-seed, beating Denver, Oral Roberts and South Dakota State. The Bison limited the Pioneers and Golden Eagles below 60 points, and in their win over ORU they avenged a 16-point loss in the regular season finale for both.

Outlook: Not as good as it was a season ago. With Braun and Bjorklund inside the Bison had two talented front court prospects who could give opponents fits. They don’t have that kind of interior productivity, but they do have a stud in Alexander (Summit League POY) who can get hot from anywhere on the court. But given the likely seed, that’s unlikely to yield a result as memorable as last year’s.

How do I know you?: You saw them beat Oklahoma in last year’s NCAA tournament as a 12-seed, and in that game Alexander scored 28 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field. The head coach of that team, Saul Phillips, is now at Ohio and the head coach of their first NCAA team (2009) was Nebraska head coach Tim Miles.

Pregame Shootaround: NEC showdown headlines light Friday slate

St. Francis (Ny) v Georgetown
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: St. Francis-Brooklyn at Robert Morris, 9:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

There are only seven games on the schedule Friday night, and this matchup in Moon Township is the one of greatest importance. Both the Terriers, who were the preseason pick to win the NEC, and Colonials enter with 3-1 conference records and the winner will keep pace with Bryant (4-1) and Saint Francis (PA) (3-1) in the loss column. Seniors Jalen Cannon and Brent Jones are combining to average just over 28 points per game for St. Francis-Brooklyn, but the Terriers aren’t a team that has shot the ball particularly well (40.7% FG, 29.6% 3PT).

Will that change against Robert Morris, whose opponents are averaging 70.6 points per game while shooting 43.3% from the field? That will have to be the case for the Terriers if they’re to win at Robert Morris, which boasts three players averaging at least 13.0 ppg led by freshman guard Marcquise Reed (13.6 ppg).

THE REST OF FRIDAY’S ACTION

  • MAAC leader Iona should take care of Niagara (7:00 p.m., ESPNU) in the first game of their two-game swing through western New York, especially with an offense that’s scoring nearly 84 points per game. Junior guard A.J. English (20.8 ppg) leads the way for a team with four of the MAAC’s top ten scorers.
  • Siena and Canisius enter tonight’s game in Buffalo with matching 3-3 conference records, with the Saints also having to navigate a lack of depth thanks to health issues. The Saints are averaging 72.7 points per game, but they’re also allowing 75.7. That could be an issue against the Golden Griffins.
  • Manhattan’s just a game out of first in the MAAC ahead of their game at Saint Peter’s (7:00 p.m., ESPN3), and two of the conference’s better forwards will be on display in Manhattan’s Emmy Andujar and SPC’s Marvin Dominique. Neither team is a high-scoring outfit, and the Peacocks will need to take care of the basketball against a team that’s forcing more than 17 turnovers per game.
  • The fourth and final MAAC game matches a struggling Marist (1-15 overall, 0-6 MAAC) squad and Fairfield (7:00 p.m., ESPN3), with the Stags having lost six of their last seven. Fairfield, which is 3-3 in league play, is led by talented forward Marcus Gilbert (15.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg).
  • St. Francis-Brooklyn/Robert Morris isn’t the only NEC game on the slate, with Sacred Heart visiting 3-1 Saint Francis (PA) (NEC FrontRow). The Red Flash haven’t started NEC play with a 4-1 record since the 1997-98 season, and senior forward Earl Brown (15.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg) leads the way for a team that has four players averaging between 7.9 and 15.0 points per game.
  • North Dakota State looks to move to 4-1 in Summit League play as they host Western Illinois. The visiting Leathernecks are shooting just 39.2% from the field this season, and they’re looking to snap a three-game losing streak against a team that is 8-0 at home this season.

South Dakota’s Tyler Larson drained an impressive game-tying shot Tuesday night (VIDEO)

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No team should ever go into a game with the goal of picking up a moral victory, because the only “credit” received for such a result is a loss. That being said, South Dakota gave Creighton everything it wanted and then some Tuesday as they pushed the Bluejays to double overtime.

Ultimately players such as James Milliken (career-high 23 points) and Austin Chatman (24 points, eight assists) made key plays down the stretch as Creighton won 91-88. Greg McDermott’s Bluejays have now won 24 straight home games.

But how did the game get into overtime? South Dakota’s Tyler Larson knocked down a three-pointer as time expired at the end of regulation, with Creighton’s Ricky Kreklow falling as a result of Nelson’s stepback move. While we can’t put this one on the same level as Kemba Walker getting the best of Gary McGhee in 2011 since Walker’s shot won the game for UConn, there’s no denying the fact that this was an impressive play by Larson.

2014-2015 Season Preview: NDSU, SDSU take step back in Summit League hierarchy

Scott Sutton (AP Photo)
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Scott Sutton (AP Photo)

Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we will be previewing the Summit League.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

Turnover is the name of the game for the Summit League as we head into the 2014-2015 season. There will be five new head coaches in the nine-team league and that doesn’t include Scott Sutton, the head coach at Oral Roberts, who will return to the conference after a two-year stint in the Southland. Just one first-team all-conference player is back this season, and among those who have left were the league’s best player (Taylor Braun) and biggest personality (former North Dakota State head coach Saul Phillips).

That said, the Summit League should end up being one of the tightest conference races in the country this year, as the separation between the top teams in the conference is quite small.

Our pick to win the regular season title is Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles had enjoyed a terrific run near the top of the Summit League for a decade-and-a-half before the school got swept up in the realignment chaos and wound up in the Southland. After a two year hiatus, Sutton is back with one of his better teams. Senior Obi Emegano is healthy after tearing his ACL last season and junior guard Korey Billbury had a terrific sophomore campaign in Emegano’s absence. Losing Shawn Glover will hurt, but the key for ORU will be whether Brandon Conley takes a step forward this season.

ORU’s biggest challenger will be Joe Scott’s Denver Pioneers. While he loses Chris Udofia to graduation, Scott does return Brett Olson, a first-team all-conference guard last year and our Preseason Player of the Year. He’s a sharp-shooter who hit more than 50 percent from three in league play, but he’s also going to have to learn to be “the guy”. In total, the Pioneers bring back four starters from last year. Denver joined the Summit prior to the 2013-2014 season.

New IPFW head coach Jon Coffman will enter this season without three of the Mastodons’ top six players from a year ago, but he does get back sophomore point guard Mo Evans, who is expected to be one of the league’s breakout stars, as well as big man Steve Forbes. Forbes is a dominating presence in the paint, but he only averaged 21.3 minutes as a junior due to fitness and foul trouble.

South Dakota State loses a number of key pieces, but former Florida big man Cody Larson will be one of the league’s most athletic players. The Jackrabbits will also get a boost when former Wisconsin point guard George Marshall gets eligible in December. North Dakota State will be without Taylor Braun, Marshall Bjorklund and former head coach Saul Phillips, but the Bison have built a strong enough program to withstand the turnover. Expect big seasons from Lawrence Alexander and Kory Brown.

source:
Brett Olson (AP Photo)

REALIGNMENT MOVES

In: Oral Roberts
Out: None

PRESEASON SUMMIT LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Brett Olson, Denver

Olson is the only player from last season’s all-Summit first-team to be returning to school this season after averaging 14.5 points, 3.6 assists and 3.5 boards. He shot 51.5% from beyond the arc in league play, but with Chris Udofia graduating, Joe Scott is going to need Olson to take on a more commanding role this season if the Pioneers are going to play their way out of a tough, balanced conference.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-SUMMIT LEAGUE TEAM:

  • Cody Larson, South Dakota State, Sr.: Larson, who began his career at Florida, might be the bst athlete in the conference.
  • Obi Emegano, Oral Roberts, Jr.: Emegano was on pace to have a huge season in 2013-2014 but tore his ACL in the fourth game of the year.
  • Lawrence Alexander, North Dakota State, Sr.: A four-year starter at the point, Alexander will be the catalyst for the Bison, will have plenty of scoring to replace.
  • Steve Forbes, IPFW, Sr.: The big fella needs to get in shape and stay out of foul trouble, but he’s a monster when he does.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @TerryVandrovec

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Oral Roberts
2. Denver
3. IPFW
4. South Dakota State
5. North Dakota State
6. South Dakota
7. Western Illinois
8. Nebraska-Omaha
9. IUPUI

IUPUI unveils new court design (PHOTO)

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IUPUI recently unveiled a new court design in the Fairgrounds Coliseum that includes the skyline of Indianapolis on the floor in a silhouette.

The school released photos of the new floor on the team’s Twitter this week and it looks pretty cool.

New head coach Jason Gardner has some talented transfers coming into the equation and he could have the program talented enough to compete in the Summit League soon.

But in the meantime, what do you think of the new floor?

Realignment Catchup: More changes come on July 1

Mark Turgeon, Kevin Anderson
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July 1, 2013 was a busy day on the college sports landscape, with a “new” league (American Athletic Conference) coming into existence and some 46 schools moving from one conference to another. But while the major shifting took place on that day, today — July 1, 2014 — hasn’t lacked for moves, with the majority of those shifts coming at the mid-major level.

Will this be the end of realignment for the foreseeable future? Or is this all just the tip of the iceberg, with NCAA issues such as the Ed O’Bannon and Sam Keller lawsuits and the threat of unionization possibly changing the structure of intercollegiate athletics? Only time will tell.

Below is a summary of each move that has taken place, with the ACC, American, Big Ten and SoCon among the conferences adding and/or losing members.

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American Athletic Conference: Mike Aresco’s league loses two members in Louisville and Rutgers (Big Ten), but gains three as East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa make the jump from Conference USA. Basketball-wise this is a tough “trade” for one reason: the loss of Louisville. Rick Pitino’s Cardinals are off the the ACC, where they’ll be a contender from the start. Of the three basketball programs joining the conference Tulsa’s best positioned for immediate success, with the Golden Hurricane returning the majority of their rotation from last season’s NCAA tournament team.

Atlantic 10: Last year the A-10 lost programs to the American (Temple), Big East (Butler and Xavier) and Conference USA (Charlotte) while adding one in George Mason, and they’ll add another program this summer with Davidson on board. Bob McKillop’s Wildcats were an excellent program during their time in the Southern Conference, making them a quality addition to the Atlantic 10.

ACC: For the second time in its existence the ACC will be losing a school, with charter member Maryland moving to the Big Ten with economics playing a major role in the decision. In place of the Terrapins will be Louisville, who have experienced greater success on the basketball court in recent years. With a now stable membership, the ACC will look to live up to the “best conference ever” chatter that began with the arrivals of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

Atlantic Sun: The A-Sun lost two members on July 1, with East Tennessee State and Mercer both moving to the Southern Conference. Those are big losses, especially when considering just how good Bob Hoffman’s Mercer Bears have been in recent years. Those moves make the A-Sun an eight-team league with FGCU expected to lead the way. And only seven of the eight teams will be eligible for the conference tournament, with Northern Kentucky still a transitional Division I member.

Big Sky: An 11-team league last season, the Big Sky moves to 12 members with the arrival of Idaho. The Vandals, whose football program will be a part of the Sun Belt, took one of the biggest hits in realignment with the Mountain West picking apart their former home (WAC).

Big South: The Big South loses one program, as VMI will join the Southern Conference. The Keydets may not have reached the NCAA tournament in recent years, but Duggar Baucom’s program played an entertaining style of basketball that led to a lot of points being scored.

Big Ten: Jim Delany’s conference doesn’t lose any members but they gain two in Maryland (ACC) and Rutgers (American). Maryland will be under some pressure in its first season in the league, with Mark Turgeon yet to lead the program to the NCAA tournament during his tenure in College Park, and they’re talented enough to end that streak. As for Rutgers, year two of the Eddie Jordan rebuilding project looks to be a difficult one. But on the bright side for the conference, adding Rutgers means another state with quality high school programs (New Jersey) is now within the conference’s “footprint.”

Colonial: The CAA was another league hurt by conference realignment, with Old Dominion, VCU and George Mason moving on in recent years. The CAA won’t lose any members this summer but they do gain one, as Elon’s moving in from the Southern Conference. Elon is the second school in as many seasons to move from the SoCon to the CAA, with the College of Charleston doing so last year.

Conference USA: Three more programs are leaving C-USA, with ECU, Tulane and Tulsa all moving on to the American. Conference USA adds one member this summer, with Western Kentucky making the move from the Sun Belt. Ray Harper’s Hilltoppers didn’t reach the NCAA tournament last season but they did in each of the two seasons prior.

Southern: No conference will experience more change on July 1 than the SoCon. Final count: four schools out, and three schools in. While Davidson (A-10) and Elon (CAA) have made their moves for basketball reasons, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will both join the Sun Belt with football being the catalyst. The three entrants are ETSU, Mercer (both from the A-Sun) and VMI (Big South).

Southland: The Southland loses a member this summer, with Oral Roberts moving back to the Summit League after spending two seasons in the Southland.

Summit League: Just two years after beginning play in the Southland Conference, Oral Roberts is headed back to the Summit League. So obviously there will be some familiarity, and the return of ORU gives the Summit League another solid program to compete with the likes of Denver, North Dakota State and South Dakota State.

Sun Belt: The Sun Belt loses one member in Western Kentucky but gains two as Appalachian State and Georgia Southern move in from the Southern Conference. Appalachian State will have a new head coach as well, with former Davidson assistant Jim Fox taking over for Jason Capel.

WAC: The WAC loses a member as Idaho’s moved its non-football programs to the Big Sky (football is in the Sun Belt). Grand Canyon remains a transitional Division I member, meaning that the Antelopes won’t be eligible for the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in 2014-15. Seven of the eight remaining members will be able to play in the conference tournament next March.

And here’s the full list of schools changing leagues on July 1:

  • Appalachian State: Southern to Sun Belt
  • Davidson: Southern to Atlantic 10
  • East Carolina: Conference USA to American Athletic
  • Elon: Southern to Colonial
  • East Tennessee State: Atlantic Sun to Southern
  • Georgia Southern: Southern to Sun Belt
  • Idaho: WAC to Big Sky
  • Louisville: American Athletic to ACC
  • Maryland: ACC to Big Ten
  • Mercer: Atlantic Sun to Southern
  • Oral Roberts: Southland to Summit League
  • Rutgers: American Athletic to Big Ten
  • Tulane: Conference USA to American Athletic
  • Tulsa: Conference USA to American Athletic
  • VMI: Big South to Southern
  • Western Kentucky: Sun Belt to Conference USA