March Madness is here! Today, a few of our writers will be giving their thoughts on the Summit League Conference Tournament.
#1 North Dakota State vs. #8 Denver
#4 Oral Roberts vs. #5 Nebraska-Omaha
#2 South Dakota State vs. #7 PFW
#3 South Dakota vs. #6 North Dakota
Who will win the Summit League Conference Tournament?
Aram: #1 North Dakota State (22-8, 13-3 in the Summit League)
North Dakota State made the NCAA Tournament last year and will be looking for that chance again. With a more experienced squad now led by Vinnie Shahid and Tyson Ward. They can score in a hurry and can win this Summit League Tournament and put a scare into one of the top seeds in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament.
Pat: #2 South Dakota State (22-9, 13-3 in the Summit League)
All signs point to another South Dakota State/North Dakota State final, and I like the Jackrabbits to get revenge from the regular season finale. The Jackrabbits play a fun brand of up tempo basketball and averaged 82 points per game in conference play. There’s a bunch of upperclassmen Jackrabbits who were there last year when the Bison ended their three year championship streak, and a conference title this year would never taste sweeter.
TJ: #1 North Dakota State (22-8, 13-3 in the Summit League)
It’s a battle of the Dakotas in the Summit as both North Dakota State and South Dakota State are atop the conference. Both are super talented teams, but I am taking the Bison in this match-up based on the coaching experience. David Richman is in his 6th year at the helm for the Bison and looking for his third NCAA tournament appearance while SDSU is in year number one of Todd Lee after T.J. Otzelberger left for UNLV. The Bison are led by the guard tandem of Vinnie Shahid and Tyson Ward.
Which team is a Dark Horse Candidate to take home the title?
Aram: #6 North Dakota (13-17, 7-9 in the Summit League)
North Dakota knows how to score the rock and have four starters who can score with anyone in the Summit League. Marlon Stewart, Filip Rebraca, De’Sean Allen-Eikens, and Kienan Walter combine for just about 59 points per game. It’s going to tough for anyone to take the crown away from North or South Dakota State, but if anyone can do it, it could be North Dakota.
Pat: #5 Nebraska-Omaha (16-15, 9-7 in the Summit League)
The Mavericks have a tough but winnable first round matchup vs Oral Roberts, but if they come away victorious I like them to give North Dakota State a fight in the semis. They can score the rock, but the issue they’ve had is playing tough defense on a consistent basis. However, if they keep trading baskets with the top teams, those higher seeds that have all the pressure tend to get nervous and Omaha has the ability to take advantage.
TJ: #6 North Dakota (13-17, 7-9 in the Summit League)
I’m giving the Dark horse nod to North Dakota in the Summit. They recently have defeated NDSU and Marlon Stewart has been the go to man for them all year long averaging 20-5-5. Filip Rebraca has also been a key player for the Fighting Hawks while almost averaging a double double. The Fighting Hawks are set up for a match against South Dakota on Sunday in the first round.
Who is one player that NBA teams should keep an eye on?
Aram: Tyson Ward, Senior G/F – North Dakota State
I watched Tyson Ward last year in the NCAA Tournament and fell in love with his game. He’s a fantastic scorer and loves to go to his deep bag. He has only improved in his senior year and I know he is capable of playing some professional ball when this season ends. I wouldn’t be surprised if some NBA teams give him a shot in the G League either as I seriously believe that he is an underrated prospect.
Pat: Marlon Stewart, Senior G – North Dakota
The senior point guard has had a fantastic year for the Fighting Hawks, leading the Summit League in both scoring and assists. At 6’3, 210 lbs, Stewart has great size for a point guard and uses that to his advantage. His Hawks are a long shot to win the conference, but if they get it, it’ll largely be due to him, and he’ll grab some national attention in the process.
TJ: Ben Pyle, Sophomore F – Western Illinois
The Sophomore has upped pretty much every statistic since his freshman year. Standing at 6-7 and 185 lbs, he is averaging over 12 points and 5 rebounds a game. His shooting splits are 42/43/88 which shows great promise for him as a shooter. He will need to gain some weight and up his output to really attract the attention of a professional league, but the signs of improvement are always good to see.