BY JEREMY HOECK
Am I predicting a Coyote sweep in the Summit League Tournament?
Not exactly. But keep reading.
Let’s be honest, the women’s race is basically between the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State, right? Well, not so fast. Western Illinois and IUPUI are certainly capable of stringing together three wins in a row, while no team in the league — or perhaps the nation, you could argue — has an answer for Vicky McIntyre at Oral Roberts.
On the men’s side, it’s wide open. Everyone has proven vulnerable, and keep in mind, No. 7 seed Denver pushed No. 2 seed North Dakota State to overtime both times in the regular season. And top-seeded South Dakota State just got beat by 16 points at No. 5 South Dakota last Saturday.
Either way, get ready for a wild four days at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, starting Saturday.
OK, let’s get to the predictions.
1 USD over 8 Fort Wayne: The Coyotes are just too potent and too deep.
2 SDSU over 7 Denver: Pretty much the same story.
4 Western Illinois over 5 IUPUI: Both of these teams could make a serious run at a title, but Ashley Luke will be too much for the Jags to handle.
3 Oral Roberts over 6 North Dakota State: Vicky McIntyre could very well put up 30 points & 20 rebounds in this game for ORU.
1 USD over 4 Western Illinois: Not only would this be a rematch of last year’s memorable first round game, it would be a rematch of last week’s narrow win for the Coyotes. I still think the Coyotes have too many weapons on offense.
3 Oral Roberts over 2 SDSU: In the regular season meeting in Tulsa, the Jacks held everyone not named Vicky McIntyre to 10-of-37 shooting. For some reason, I just see the Golden Eagles making a run into the finals.
1 USD over 3 Oral Roberts: The Coyotes repeat as Summit League champs and reach the NCAA Tournament, and are later sent to Iowa City as a 14 seed.
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1 SDSU over 8 Western Illinois: The Jackrabbits everyone saw in a 16-point loss at USD on Saturday isn’t the same team they’ll see at the tournament. I don’t see this one being all that close.
5 USD over 4 Fort Wayne: The Coyotes are the hottest team in the league, having won five of their last six. Tyler Larson is a difference maker on both ends. USD is never really out of a game because of its scrappy nature.
7 Denver over 2 North Dakota State: Brett Olson is playing better of late for the Pioneers, and remember, Denver pushed the Bison to overtime in both regular season meetings.
3 Oral Roberts over 6 IUPUI: Obi Emegano is hot of late, scoring 34 and 25 points in the final two regular season games for ORU. Even without Korey Billbury, I see the Golden Eagles winning this one.
5 USD over 1 SDSU: A rematch of the regular season finale. Certainly this won’t be a 16-point win for either side, but I just don’t see the Jacks has having enough consistent offense to win. Cody Larson will likely have another monster game, but when the Coyotes start sharing the ball, they’re a tough team to beat.
7 Denver over 3 Oral Roberts: The half-court, slow-paced nature of Denver’s attack should cause problems for the Golden Eagles. And hey, this is a wide open race, so why not a No. 7 seed in the championship?
7 Denver over 5 USD: In the last meeting in Vermillion, Brett Olson was nearly unstoppable, hitting 7-of-10 three-point shots. Cam Griffin also caused problems for the Coyotes, who aren’t exactly the biggest team in the world. Ultimately, I think the Pioneers are able to grind out a close win to capture the title.