Among the many beautiful things about March Madness is the notion that any team can make it. Every conference gets one automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Most automatic bids are awarded to the winner of each respective conference tournament. Each article will preview a different conference tournament with a full bracket breakdown.
1 South Dakota State def. 8 Omaha
4 Oral Roberts def. 5 North Dakota
2 South Dakota def. 7 Western Illinois
3 North Dakota State def. 6 Kansas City
4 Oral Roberts def. 1 South Dakota State
2 South Dakota def. 3 North Dakota State
4 Oral Roberts def. 2 South Dakota
The four teams at the top of the Summit League standings were all within a half game of each other. Oral Roberts happened to be the bottom of that group with a 10-5 conference record. Though their scoring defense isn’t strong, the Golden Eagles are in the top three teams in points per game, three-point percentage, and free throw percentage in conference play. At no point did they lose to a conference opponent twice and they swept each of the bottom three teams. The Golden Eagles also have two of the most impactful players in the conference: Max Abmas who leads the Summit League with 27.2 points per game and Kevin Obanor who averages 19 points and 10 rebounds per game. Coincidentally, twice in the last four years the fourth seed has won the Summit League. With no clear favorite in this event, a high ceiling offense with star players might be all it takes to win the title.
The Summit League isn’t super deep when it comes to interesting or threatening teams. The Golden Eagles aren’t a phenomenal team but even as this article’s forecasted champion, also resemble the closest thing to a sleeper.
Matchup to Watch
South Dakota State vs Oral Roberts
This matchup pits the top two offenses against each other in a third installment of an explosive series. These teams split a two-game set in Tulsa in mid-February. The first game went to the Golden Eagles 103-86. Game two was won by the Jackrabbits 95-80. South Dakota State also has one of the most dynamic player in the Summit League in Baylor Scheierman. He averages 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. With two exciting shootouts already, it is safe to assume a higher stakes match would be just as entertaining.
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