The Summit League Tournament kicked off on March 4th, 2017 with a pair of opening round games. Interestingly enough, the first and second seeded teams were involved. The results of the games saw the number one seeded South Dakota Coyotes defeated the eight seeded Western Illinois Leathernecks, while the seventh seeded IUPUI Jaguars upset the second seeded North Dakota St. Bison. Last year too, the Jaguars and Bisons squared off in the opening round, with the Bison winning. So for the Jaguars, this was sweet revenge.
The Summit League is comprised of nine teams, but only the top eight qualify for the conference tournament. This particular tournament as I previously mentioned, had the top two seeded teams take on the bottom two that qualified in the opening round.
The schedule are as follows:
Saturday, March 4 (quarterfinals)
Game 1: No. 1 South Dakota Coyotes 78, No. 8 Western Illinois Leathernecks 69
Game 2: No. 7 IUPUI Jaguars 76, No. 2 NDSU Bison 57
Sunday, March 5 (quarterfinals), WatchESPN
Game 3: No. 4 SDSU vs. No. 5 Denver, 7 p.m.
Game 4: No. 3 Omaha vs. No. 6 Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.
Monday, March 6 (semifinals), WatchESPN
Game 5: No. 1 South Dakota vs. Game 3 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 6: No. 7 IUPUI vs. Game 4 winner, 9:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 7 (championship), ESPN2
Game 7: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 9 p.m.
Prediction: Obviously, since I missed the opening round, I have a much higher chance of being right here. However, the only team that showed any signs consistency within the conference was the South Dakota Coyotes. They finished the regular season with a 22-10 record and 12-4 within the division.
On the season, the Coyotes don’t have any real impressive wins to speak, but a neutral court victory over the Kent St. Golden Flashes isn’t that bad. The Coyotes tested themselves a handful of time out of conference, playing the likes of the Houston Cougars, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Gonzaga Bulldogs. They were blown out in every game but against the Cornhuskers, which lost by 12 points. But give them credit, as they rallied from a 22 point deficit in that game to bring the score within 2 in the final 7 minutes.
According to Ken Pomeroy, the Coyotes are the 141st ranked team. In the Summit League, they have the number 7th ranked offense, but the number one defense. In fact, KenPom has the Coyotes defense ranking in at 118th in the nation. Not too shabby.
The Summit League Tournament games are taking place in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. So, advantage the South Dakota Coyotes, who will have the clear home court advantage. With the Coyotes having home court advantage and currently have won seven straight games, it’s a no brainer here that this is their year to win the tournament.