Summit League

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Introducing Cinderella: North Dakota State upends Omaha to claim Summit title

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When South Dakota State inexplicably became the first top-seed ever in the Summit League tournament to lose to an eight seed as the Jacks did last week, suddenly the conference’s automatic NCAA bid became a free-for-all.

North Dakota State just went and got it.

The fourth-seeded Bison upended No. 2 Omaha, 73-63, in Sioux Falls in book its trip to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015, coach Dave Richman’s first season at the helm.

Vinnie Shahid scored 21 points to lead NDSU while Tyson Ward had 15 points and seven rebounds and Cameron Hunter scored 12 off the bench. The Bison led by as many as 14 points, but saw that lead disappear when Omaha knotted things with just under 9 minutes to play. Shahid, though, connected on a 3 to kickstart a 9-0 Bison run that would prove to be the difference.

For Omaha, it’s the second time in three years its fallen in the Summit League title game as the recently-christened Division I program continues to look for its first NCAA tournament appearance in program history. Mitch Hahn had 16 points and seven rebounds while Matt Pile had 12 and 14 in the losing effort.


COACH: Dave Richman

RECORD: 18-15, 9-7 Summit


  • KENPOM: 207
  • NET: 225

PROJECTED SEED: Given the Bison were only the fourth-best team in the Summit League, there’s a good chance they’ll have one of the weaker resumes in the field. They’re likely headed toward a 16 seed this weekend.

NAMES YOU NEED TO KNOW: Vinnie Shahid is the Bison’s best player, averaging 12.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the floor and 36.3 percent from beyond the arc. Jared Samuelson doesn’t accumulate a ton of stats, but he’s ultra-efficient.

BIG WINS, BAD LOSSES: There isn’t really a win on NDSU’s resume that would qualify as “big” other than the one they earned Tuesday night that clinched an NCAA tournament spot. Bad losses? There’s a couple of those, like Incarnate Word (KenPom 345), Denver (312) and South Dakota (230).

STATS YOU NEED TO KNOW:The Bison are Me. Thod. Ic. al. That spells methodical, if it was a little confusing. They rank 330th nationally in average offensive possession length at 19.1 seconds. When they do pull the trigger, though, they’ll fire away from 3-point range as 48.3 percent of their overall attempts come from beyond the arc. Defensively, they keep teams off the line, but that’s about the extent of their strengths on that end.

HOW DO I KNOW YOU?: Do you live in Fargo? Then you definitely know Dave Richman. Maybe you’ve seen him at a Hornbacher’s grocery store, the Chili’s at the mall or a game at the Fargodome sometime over the last 20 years or so. Richman is a 2002 graduate of NDSU and has been a graduate assistant, assistant, associate head coach and now is in his fifth-year helming the Bison. So you’ve probably seen him around town.

FINAL THOUGHT: North Dakota State had lost three of four heading into the postseason, so this run to the NCAA tournament is a welcome surprise in Fargo, but the win against the Mavericks is overwhelmingly likely the last one of the season for the Bison.

Introducing Cinderella: Meet the North Dakota State Bison

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AP Photo

Conference: Summit League

Coach: Dave Richman

Record: 23-9 (12-4)

Ratings and rankings:

Kenpom: 158
RPI (per 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

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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).


  • 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

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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 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.

Brett Olson (AP Photo)


In: Oral Roberts
Out: None


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.


  • 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.



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

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?