The energy and competitive nature of getting to the NCAA tournament is one of my favorite things about college basketball. In some situations, there are conferences with eight teams that reach the NCAA tournament, regardless of the conference tournament results. In other conferences, only one team will be represented at the Big Dance, and it will be the team that won their conference tournament. The amount of importance the conference tournament has for certain teams as opposed to others is massive. For the Summit League specifically, this is every teams’, every coaches’ and every players’ opportunity to be a part of March Madness. Win and you’re in!
With five conference tournaments already underway, I want to shift your attention to the Summit League tournament happening this weekend at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This tournament is a classic eight game, single elimination tournament with the winner getting an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.
The majority of teams in the Summit League tournament are .500 or better in conference play. The top four teams in the conference by record are South Dakota State (9-3), South Dakota (10-4), North Dakota State (11-5) and Oral Roberts (10-5). All have beaten up on one another in some form or fashion this season. My positions heading into this tournament are SDSU and SD to win the Summit tournament outright. Along with those two futures, I’ll also be active from a game-by-game perspective regarding totals.
South Dakota State University Jackrabbits (2U at +130, currently +125)
South Dakota State is the favorite to win the Summit League tournament as it currently stands. They’ve won it five out of the last 10 seasons, and currently boast the best record in the conference. The way the bracket is set up with South Dakota State as the No. 1 seed, they won’t have to face South Dakota or North Dakota State, unless they make it to the championship game. SDSU has already lost to South Dakota twice this season and they lost to NDSU two weeks ago at home. Historically (last 10 seasons, excluding 2011), it’s been either SDSU or NDSU in the Summit League championship. One team that gives me concern on the SDSU top half of the bracket is Oral Roberts. My hope is that North Dakota “upsets” Oral Roberts in the quarterfinals, and SDSU faces North Dakota in the semifinals. SDSU has beat North Dakota by double digits in each of their three matchups this season.
Favorite stat: South Dakota State is fourth in the nation for offensive effective FG% (55.8%).
Player to watch: Douglas Wilson (‘19-’20 Summit League POY) averaging 16 points and five rebounds for the Jackrabbits.
South Dakota Coyotes (0.3U at +500, currently +300)
South Dakota started off the year with a tough non-conference schedule that didn’t necessarily yield the best W/L results, but got the Coyotes prepared for conference play, where they rattled off nine straight conference wins to start the season before losing to SDSU in their second matchup of back-to-back scheduling. South Dakota is 2-1 against SDSU, and I’d consider the Coyotes to be the biggest threat to SDSU’s chances of making the tournament. Because South Dakota has the No. 2 seed, they will be in the bottom half of the bracket with NDSU, meaning both SDSU and South Dakota could reach the championship game. South Dakota’s first game will be against Western Illinois, whom they’ve defeated twice already on the road this season, by five and 10 points, respectively. If both South Dakota and NDSU were to win their first games, they would face off in the semifinals to get to the championship. This season, NDSU is 2-1 versus South Dakota, outscoring the Coyotes 234 points to 224 points in total across those three matchups.
Favorite stat: South Dakota is a top 20 team in FT%, 3-PT% and turnover%.
Player to watch: Stanley Umude has only gotten better every single year he’s been with the program, now averaging 21 points, 7 rebounds, and three assists in his senior season.
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Over the top totals
I’m not entirely sure what to expect across sportsbooks when it comes to what they’ll set the game totals at within the Summit conference tournament matchups. This is a great reminder to always shop for the best numbers available. Throughout this year, bettors were profitable betting the over in nearly every Summit League matchup, with six out of nine teams posting an over record of 60% or higher.
This conference boasts teams in the top 175 for adjusted offensive efficiency, as well as teams in the bottom 175 in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency. AdjO and AdjD according to KenPom are “the amount of points a team would score/surrender per 100 possessions, or trips down the floor, against an average Division I opponent.”
Oral Roberts has been a team that has stood out all year for the overs in their matchups (14-6 ytd). They’re currently ranked 70th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 298th in adjusted defensive efficiency, with two players who can score at will in Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor.
Via the NBC Sports EDGE⁺ tool, I’ve provided a breakdown of Summit League results from this season. In conference games for the Summit League, the Over is 41-16 and 37-14 (72%) since January 1st, 2021 (image below shows results since January 1st).
I may be OVERconfident in the home cooking, but I promise this conference tournament won’t UNDERdeliver.