Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.
Predicted Order of Finish:
- Oakland 22-9 (16-2)
- Oral Roberts 21-10 (15-3)
- South Dakota St. 18-11 (11-7)
- IUPUI 17-14 (9-9)
- North Dakota St. 14-14 (8-10)
- Southern Utah 13-16 (8-10)
- Western Illinois 13-16 (6-12)
- IPFW 11-18 (4-14)
- UMKC 9-20 (4-14)
- Centenary 6-23 (2-16)
- Johnathan Jones (G), Sr, Oakland
- Garret Callahan (G), Sr, South Dakota St.
- Dominique Morrison (F), Soph, Oral Roberts
- Jon Avery (F), Sr, IUPUI
- Keith Benson (C), Jr, Oakland
6th Man. Hunter McClintock (G), Fr, Oral Roberts
Impact Newcomer. Larry Wright (G), Jr, Oakland. The junior transfer from St. John’s University, should have an immediate impact on the Summit League. Two years ago he led the Red Storm in three-point field goal percentage, and he should be the perfect replacement for Erik Kangas, The Oakland great who set the all-time single season mark last year with 145 threes. Wright’s long-range shooting could be the key to Oakland’s success.
What You Need to Know. The Summit League is like the little engine that could. Every year, it produces a scrappy team that creates some hype in the NCAA Tournament. Last year Ben Woodside and his rag-tag boys from North Dakota State challenged the defending national champs (Kansas), and just came up short 84-74. This year’s Summit League has the potential to produce a similar Cinderella story, with teams like Oakland and Oral Roberts reloading with some really talented players. Watch out for Oral Roberts and their newcomer Damen Bell-Holter (Mr. Alaska 2007, top 50 center prospect on Scout.com) who has the potential to dominate the lesser big men in the conference. Defense is the key to winning the Summit League. Last years champ NDSU held their opponents to 69.1 points per game, and Oral Roberts, in their three straight championships from 2006-08, held their opponents to 62.0, 64.9, and 68.1 points per game.
Predicted Champion. Oral Roberts (NCAA Seed: #14). With all the questions about age and inexperience with the Golden Eagles, it seems that Scott Sutton has the answers with his experience and skill level as a coach. Give him talented players, and his team will always compete. If Oral Roberts clinches another Summit league title, it will be their fourth championship in five years. I think a tough non-conference schedule (at Wake Forest, Missouri, New Mexico, Louisville,and Stanford) will be a trial-by-fire, and help their young freshmen mature quickly. The tough schedule also will help the NCAA Selection Committee give them a more favorable seed, especially if they win a couple of those big games (best bets are at home against New Mexico and Missouri). A #14 seed in the Big Dance will give Oral Roberts the Cinderella tag. A first round win is not out of the question for a Scott Sutton-led ORU squad.