It would be disingenuous to say that defense is optimal in the Summit League. It is actually imperative that you do not play any defense. Using Bart Torvik’s conference ratings, only the Northeast, MEAC, and Big South grade worse in adjusted defensive efficiency than the Summit League.
It is, however, a great conference for offense. Collectively, a 51.4% eFG% ranks third in the nation. A 17.3% TO% on offense ranks second. A 51.3% 2P% ranks fourth. A 34.4% 3P% ranks fifth. This is also a top-five conference in tempo.
The top eight teams qualify for the conference tournament, so Western Illinois’s season is finished. North Dakota State and South Dakota State jockeyed for the top spot into the final week of the regular season and the Bison prevailed. All that really does is set up a rivalry game between SDSU and South Dakota in the semifinals. The tournament starts on Saturday March 7.
Here are the teams, seeds, standings, and odds from BetOnline Sportsbook for the 2020 Summit League Conference Tournament:
- North Dakota State 22-8 (13-3) (record vs. South Dakota) +200
- South Dakota State 22-9 (13-3) +200
- South Dakota 20-11 (10-6) +350
- Oral Roberts 16-13 (9-7) (record vs. NDSU) +350
- Omaha 16-15 (9-7) +1600
- North Dakota 13-17 (7-9) +2500
- Purdue Fort Wayne 13-18 (6-10) +3300
- Denver 7-23 (3-13) +10000
Fort Wayne actually has the best defense in this conference, but that doesn’t really help in a conference where teams regularly get into the 80s. Fort Wayne can’t score and thus finished seventh in the league. This league is all about offense to say the least. South Dakota State was first in 3P% against and North Dakota State was second in 3P% against. That goes a long way in a league like this and that is one of many reasons why those two are the top two seeds.
Here’s the ironic thing: The under is 33-23 over the last 56 Summit League Conference Tournament games at the Sanford Center. Things do tend to tighten up as games get more important and that seems to be the case here in this league. Keep that in mind when you see some really big totals here.
Here is the schedule for the 2020 Summit Tournament:
Saturday March 7
6 p.m. CT: 8 Denver vs. 1 North Dakota State
8:30 p.m. CT: 7 Purdue Fort Wayne vs. 2 South Dakota State
Sunday March 8
6 p.m. CT: 5 Omaha vs. 4 Oral Roberts
8:30 p.m. CT: 6 North Dakota vs. 3 South Dakota
Monday March 9
6 p.m. CT: 8/1 winner vs. 5/4 winner
8:30 p.m. CT: 7/2 winner vs. 6/3 winner
Tuesday March 10
8 p.m. CT: Championship Game
There are no byes in this conference tournament, but the #1 and #2 seeds get a big boost in that they have a day off after their quarterfinals games to rest up for the semifinals, assuming they both advance. The 3 through 6 seeds have to win three games in three days in order to snag the automatic bid. That has to factor into the equation when you handicap this conference tournament.
In a way, all of the teams in this league are dangerous because they can score. Every defense allowed over 50% on two-point shots for the season in conference play. SO they are all bad and just about all of these offenses can score. Some are just a lot better at it than others, mostly because they make threes. Just about all of these teams are good from the free throw line as well.
Oral Roberts has the offense to knock off Omaha and potentially beat North Dakota State. The Golden Eagles lost twice to South Dakota State, but split with Omaha and North Dakota State. That could throw everything out of whack in this conference tournament. Oral Roberts took a lot more threes late in the season as well, which could yield more of a high-variance type of situation.
South Dakota State is probably the best team in this conference and came up just short of being the #1 seed and regular season champion with an overtime loss on the last day of the regular season. In that game, the Jackrabbits were just 4-of-10 from the free throw line. It was a game played to 74 possessions that finished with 140 points in overtime, just to illustrate how games tighten up when they mean more.
Even though South Dakota State runs into rival South Dakota in the semifinals, the Jackrabbits are the team I trust the most in this conference. Their two offensive rebounds against NDSU in the finale was the lowest output of the season and they were uncharacteristically poor at the free throw line.
South Dakota seemed to hit a wall late in the season and will have to play back-to-back days with the off day for SDSU. Anything could have in this conference tournament with really good offenses and bad defenses, so it may just come down to the team that makes more shots that day, but SDSU managed to be better offensively than a South Dakota team that was shooting over 40% from 3 for a long time.
Pick: South Dakota State +200