Can the Bison avoid South Dakota schools?
There is a very clear divide in the women’s basketball Summit League standings. Five teams are above .500 with four well below. With one weekend of regular season play to go, the positions for the Summit League Tournament are almost set.
Will the Bison move?
A huge comeback win at home against Omaha Saturday did a world of good for North Dakota State. Sitting at the No. 7 spot currently, the win put the Bison not only two games clear of cellar-dwellers Purdue Fort Wayne, but also the same margin over the Mavericks.
A loss would have seen the Mavericks leap over the Bison and set up a potential final-day dash at Purdue Fort Wayne to see who stays home from Sioux Falls.
Instead, NDSU can focus on trying to get off the No. 7 line. A single game behind North Dakota for sixth, NDSU will need to better UND’s results from this week. The North Dakota schools will share opponents, both taking on South Dakota and Purdue Fort Wayne, and hope the record against shared opponents falls in the Bison’s favor because the teams split their regular season games.
Not being one of the last two in will be key because …
Which South Dakota school gets No. 1?
There is every possibility that when the NCAA Tournament rolls around, the Summit will have two teams in the field.
South Dakota State took a home-court overtime win over No. 23 ranked South Dakota. The two South Dakota schools have held serve at home, with the Coyotes being the Jacks’ sole loss. The ‘Yotes slipped up at Denver earlier in the season and now find themselves a game behind the Jacks.
A game up and with tiebreakers in hand, it looks good for the Jacks. But with a game in hand, USD will need to beat both NDSU and UND to have an outside chance of the No. 1 seed. Either way, pencil in USD-SDSU for the Summit League title.
Sorting out the midfield
Behind the top two, the top half of the field is tight. Oral Roberts holds the third spot at the moment at 9-6, but have just one game left against Omaha.
One game behind the Golden Eagles are Denver and Western Illinois. Both the Pioneers and the Leathernecks have a game in hand over the Golden Eagles. However, the two teams meet in Denver Thursday.
Western Illinois travels to Brookings, South Dakota on the final day while Denver heads to Omaha Saturday. In terms of tiebreakers, Oral Roberts owns two head-to-head wins against Western Illinois, but split with the Pioneers.
Who gets left out?
Equal on record with two games to go, the 2-12 Mavericks and Mastodons will be fighting to get into the tournament. Omaha is in on tiebreakers right now, but travel to ORU and Denver to close out the season.
Purdue Fort Wayne gets to stay at home against beatable opponents UND and NDSU. One win from those two will likely be enough to punch a ticket to the tournament.
Summit League Tournament Predictions
No. 1 South Dakota State def. No. 8 Purdue Fort Wayne
No. 2 South Dakota def. No. 7 North Dakota State
No. 3 Denver def. No. 6 North Dakota
No. 5 Western Illinois def. No. 4 Oral Roberts
No. 1 South Dakota State def. No. 5 Western Illinois
No. 2 South Dakota def. No. 3 Denver
No. 2 South Dakota def. No. 1 South Dakota State