Summit League (conference rank: 16th)
March 4, 6, 7
All games at Sioux Falls, S.D.
kPOY: Mike Daum, South Dakota State
Regular season champ: South Dakota (preseason #274 / 9th Summit, current #134)
Overachiever: South Dakota
Underachiever: South Dakota State (preseason #113, current #191)
I’m not sure there was a more surprising conference champ than South Dakota. Picked seventh in the league’s preseason poll and last by the algorithm on this site, the Coyotes closed the season with six consecutive wins, overtaking preseason favorite North Dakota State for the league crown.
The Coyotes ranked 347th in minutes continuity, meaning they basically had a whole new roster from last season. Craig Smith’s bevy of transfers and freshmen didn’t take long to come together. I have some good news and bad news for USD fans, though. They are the favorite in the Summit tourney, but the Coyotes have among the nation’s worst chances for any favorite.
We also have our best early example of seeding malfeasance as Fort Wayne gets the nod as the second choice despite being the six-seed in an eight-team field. In their opening game, the Mastodons are a slight favorite against third-seeded Omaha in what promises to be a high-scoring contest between the two foes that like short possessions and sacrifice defense for offense.
The South Dakota schools are given half home-court advantage for these games played at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
Semis Final Champ 1 South Dakota 84.5 51.3 29.9 6 Fort Wayne 60.4 33.2 17.3 2 North Dakota St. 60.2 32.1 16.3 4 South Dakota St. 50.7 22.9 10.9 5 Denver 49.3 22.0 10.4 3 Nebraska Omaha 39.6 18.0 7.6 7 IUPUI 39.8 16.7 6.8 8 Western Illinois 15.5 3.8 0.8