Summit League Tournament: Preview & Odds

March 7th, 2009


This is one in a series of conference tournament previews, in which I run down all the teams involved, give a brief statistical review and present the log5 projections, using in-conference offensive and defensive efficiency. The basic log5 methodology comes from Bill James, and this is an area Ken Pomeroy has looked at in the past as well. I claim nothing new in the application, but obviously with slightly different methodologies, these numbers may differ from others you find.  I don’t claim to be an expert on any particular conference, and I’m sure there are some mis-characterizations on some players I’ve seen sparingly at best, so please add your thoughts in the comments. Anyway, with no further ado, the preview follows below:


Summit League


The Summit League Tournament is a pretty simple 8-team affair, with all games in Sioux Falls, SD.








North Dakota St.





Oral Roberts















Southern Utah





IUPU Fort Wayne





South Dakota St.










North Dakota St. will be a team to watch for an upset in the NCAA tournament, but only if they can get by tough challenges from the winner of an ORU-Oakland semifinal.


#1 – North Dakota St. Bison (23-6, 16-2) ; Efficiency Margin: +0.172

Last NCAA Tournament bid: None


North Dakota St. is one of the best stories of the season, poised to make its NCAA Tournament debut in its first year of post-season eligibility, after redshirting a whole class of players to ensure they could play in this important season. The Bison have lost just once in their last 14, and took the conference title by a full two games. They’re the only team in the league that is highly ranked in both offense and defense, second in each category. North Dakota St. shoots the ball well, and has one of the country’s best turnover rates. It also plays an effective defensive style, as opponents take most of their shots inside, where the Bison have been best defensively. They’ve also been excellent rebounders and rarely commit fouls.


Players to watch:

5-11 SR Ben Woodside, 23.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.4 APG, 53.5 eFG% - Woodside had one of the biggest scoring games of the season when he put up 60 in a triple overtime loss to Stephen F. Austin, but don’t think he’s a one game wonder; Woodside has been one of the best scorers in the country over the course of the season. He’s an excellent shooter, 44% from behind the arc and 84% on the free throw line, and has put up one of the nation’s best assist rates, while rarely turning it over. He can potentially score 30 points in any game he plays, and should the Bison win the tourney, is the kind of player who could cause havoc for a higher-seeded NCAA opponent.


6-6 SR Brett Winkelman, 18.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 55.7 eFG% - While Woodside is a great scoring guard, Winkleman is just as good inside, though he doesn’t take quite as many shots. Still, he’s a great shooter who can hit threes, while shooting well over 50% overall, and is the team’s leading rebounder. Like Woodside, he rarely turns the ball over, and there’s very few ways for the Bison to go wrong with these two players.



#2 – Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (16-14, 14-4) ; Efficiency Margin: +0.142

Last NCAA Tournament bid: 2008 (1st Round)


Oral Roberts has been the conference’s name program, claiming the last three tournament titles and the last four league championships, and will have a serious chance to earn the auto-bid, and while they should be favored make the final, they lost both regular season games against the Bison. The Eagles have had the conference’s best defense, holding opponents under 44% from inside the arc, and being strong rebounders. They’ve had a lot more problems with their own attack, struggling to make shots, especially from three-point range.


Players to watch:

5-11 JR Robert Jarvis, 17.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 48.6 eFG% - Jarvis takes a lot of shots and while his percentage hasn’t been great inside the arc, he’s made up for it with pretty solid outside shooting. He’s not too effective overall, and doesn’t do much besides score, but his role is large enough that he leads the team in scoring.  


6-8 SR Marcus Lewis, 13.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 58.9 eFG% - Lewis is a good inside compliment to Jarvis, one of the conference’s best rebounders and a high percentage shooter. His free throw shooting is regrettable, however, just 50% from the stripe.



#3 – Oakland Golden Grizzlies  (20-11, 13-5) ; Efficiency Margin: +0.100

Last NCAA Tournament bid: 2005 (1st Round)


Oakland made the NCAA Tournament four years ago by winning the Mid-Continent tournament as a long-shot, and while its odds are better in this year’s event, it will still be an upset if it could claim the bid. The Grizzlies enter the tournament on a seven game winning streak, and have had the Summit’s best offense by a fairly wide margin. Their 58% on two-pointers is a spectacular number, and they are also solid three-point shooters who rarely turn the ball over. Of course, with such a good offense, they would be closer to the leading pair of teams if they weren’t one of the conference’s worst defensive teams. Oakland forces very few turnovers, and is really vulnerable to the three-point shot, allowing opponents to shoot a lot of them and make a high percentage of those they shoot.


Players to watch:

6-11 SO Keith Benson, 14.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 62.6 eFG% - Benson is one of the country’s most efficient players, an excellent big man who does a lot of things well: he’s a high percentage player inside, gets to the line a lot, and hits 69% once there, is an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker, and has committed just 30 turnovers all year. The Grizzlies should try and get the ball to him more often, since it rarely results in something negative.


6-3 SR Erik Kangas, 18.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 57.1 eFG% - Kangas takes most of his shots from three, and hits 42% of them, and he puts up enough to be the team’s leading scorer.



#4 – IUPUI Jaguars (16-13, 9-8) ; Efficiency Margin: -0.021

Last NCAA Tournament bid: 2003 (1st Round)


With three teams dominating the conference, there’s a serious drop-off as we begin to delve into the teams at and around the .500 mark. IUPUI has been right on the conference average in both offense and defense, and so a 9-9 record seems a perfect fit.  The Jaguars have been the conference’s worst team at defending the three-point shot, allowing opponents to make over 41% of attempts, but have made up for that by rarely fouling and forcing a lot of turnovers. They’ve also been good at scoring inside, but are the conference’s worst free throw shooters.


Players to watch:

6-7 JR Robert Glenn, 14.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 61.7 eFG% - Glenn is one of the best forwards in the conference, an excellent percentage scorer inside who also asserts himself well on the boards and with shot-blocks.


6-7 JR Jon Avery, 9.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 67.7 eFG% - On most teams, Glenn would be the best field goal shooter, but Avery blows him away, at 68% from the floor. He doesn’t take as many shots as Glenn, but he’s a great second interior option.



#5 – Southern Utah Thunderbirds (10-19, 8-10) ; Efficiency Margin: -0.037

Last NCAA Tournament bid: 2001 (1st Round)


The Thunderbirds are the only team to beat the champions in North Dakota this season, and will get a chance to sweep them in the Dakotas if they win a tough opening round game with IUPUI. They’ve had an above-average defense despite letting opponents hit 54% on two-pointers, as they’ve done well on the defensive glass and caused a lot of trouble for opponents on the perimeter. They play a fairly slow, heavily inside-oriented offense, but are excellent shooters who are good behind the arc and absolutely brilliant from the free throw line, leading the nation by hitting more than 80% of their attempts.


Players to watch:

6-4 JR Davis Baker, 17.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 52.3 eFG% - Baker leads Southern Utah in scoring; he takes a lot of shots, and does a pretty good job of hitting them, making just enough to justify the high volume.


6-10 SR John Clifford, 9.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 62.6 eFG% - Clifford leads the Summit in rebounding, and while he’s not a really big scorer, he’s very effective inside when he does get chances.



#6 – IUPU Fort Wayne Mastodons (13-16, 8-10) ; Efficiency Margin: -0.041

Last NCAA Tournament bid: None


Fort Wayne had a solid finish to its second season in the Summit League, getting from a 3-8 conference record up to where it needed to make the tournament with a strong finish. It has been one of the country’s best teams at hitting three-pointers, over 40%, but most of its shots come from inside, where its percentage isn’t great and it struggles to get back its misses. The Mastodons have seen a similar pattern on the defensive end, stopping the outside shot well, but performing rather poorly inside.


Players to watch:

6-7 SR David Carson, 14.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 44.7 eFG% - Carson is Fort Wayne’s leading scorer, but hasn’t been a very efficient shooter. He does an good job at the free throw line, shooting just under 80%.


6-6 SO Deilvez Yearby, 8.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 49.3 eFG% - Yearby leads the team in rebounding, and is a good inside shooter who has found his scoring form of late, averaging 12 points a game over the month of February.



#7 – South Dakota St. Jackrabbits (12-19, 7-11) ; Efficiency Margin: -0.033

Last NCAA Tournament bid: 2006 (2nd Round)


The Jackrabbits haven’t made quite the splash of their northern counterparts, but they will make their Summit League tourney debut despite losing their last four games. South Dakota St. has actually had one of the conference’s better offenses, but its defense has been the worst of the tournament teams. It attempts a lot of threes, and makes a decent percentage, but does better from inside the arc. Defensively, though, the Jackrabbits are really vulnerable on two-pointers, and they force so few turnovers that opponents get a lot of chances at high-percentage shots.


Players to watch:

6-1 JR Garrett Callahan, 15.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 56.1 eFG% - The Jackrabbits’ leading scorer is the best three-point shooter on a team full of such shooters.


6-6 JR Kai Williams, 9.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 45.4 eFG% - Williams is a very good rebounder who shouldn’t be too much of an offensive focus, especially given his sub-30% three-point shooting. When he’s hot, he can be quite dangerous, but consistency has been a problem. 



#8 – Centenary Gentlemen (8-22, 6-12) ; Efficiency Margin: -0.049

Last NCAA Tournament bid: 2000 (1st Round)


The Gentlemen seemed to be on course for a solid season on the last day of January, as they sat just above .500 in the league. They would not win again until the end of February, racking up an eight-game losing streak, and just managing to sneak into the tournament. Centenary actually has one of the better defenses in the conference, leading the league in forcing turnovers and holding opponents under wraps from behind the arc. It just hasn’t been good enough offensively, having a lot problems with its shooting from all areas of the floor.


Players to watch:

6-1 SR Nick Stallings, 15.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 49.0 eFG% - Stallings leads the Gents in both scoring and rebounding, and is a excellent three-point shooter, at nearly 40%. He’s faced some foul trouble in recent games, fouling out of two of his last three.


5-10 JR Chase Adams, 14.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.7 SPG, 53.0 eFG% - Adams is a great ball-handling guard, putting up a very good assist rate, leading the league in steals and rarely turning the ball over. Like Stallings, he’s also had some recent foul trouble, fouling out of his last two.


My statistical all-Summit League team:

North Dakota St. SR G Ben Woodside, 23.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.4 APG, 53.5 eFG%

Oakland SR G Erik Kangas, 18.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 57.1 eFG%

Centenary JR G Chase Adams, 14.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.7 SPG, 53.0 eFG%

North Dakota St. SR F Brett Winkelman, 18.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 55.7 eFG%

Oakland SO C Keith Benson, 14.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 62.6 eFG%