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Inside look at high school and Oakland University sports from Oakland Press sports writer Dave Pemberton.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Summit League power rankings 12-23-08

1. Oakland (8-6, 1-1) — The Golden Grizzlies regain the top spot thanks to their road win over Green Bay, a solid second half in a loss to Michigan, which is ranked No. 24 in the latest Associated Press poll and a win at Eastern Michigan. Sophomore center Keith Benson scored a career-high 23 points against Michigan and is averaging 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks for the Grizzlies, who have won five of their last six. Oakland plays its final non-conference game against No. 11 Michigan State at The Palace on Saturday.
2. North Dakota State (7-4, 2-0 Summit) — The Bison lost by just four at USC, 61-57. NDSU led by five at halftime and for most of the second half before the Trojans rallied to win in the final two minutes. As impressive as the showing was, North Dakota State has yet to prove it can win on the road, with its biggest road win at Northern Arizona. The Bison were tough at home last season, but really struggled on the road. A good indication is NDSU beat Northern Arizona by seven on the road earlier this season, but then beat them by 22 at home on Monday.
3. IUPUI (6-4, 0-1) — Leroy Nobles hit a layup at the buzzer to lift the Jaguars over Seton Hall and to their first win in school history over a Big East opponent. It was just the second loss of the season for the Pirates, who have beat USC and Virginia Tech this season. Freshman Alex Young led the Jaguars with 18 points and six rebounds and Billy Pettiford added 12 points and 11 rebounds. I sat next to an NBA scout at Oakland’s game Saturday and one guy he brought up in The Summit League is Young.
4. UMKC (5-8, 1-1) — Sophomore Spencer Johnson's streak of five straight double-doubles came to an end in a, 76-72, home loss to Texas-San Antonio. Dane Brumagin scored 26 in the loss, but was the only player in double figures. The Kangaroos won at Eastern Washington last week and fell by 15 at Northwestern. UMKC will host SIU-Edwardsville Sunday in its final non-conference game.
5. Southern Utah (3-8, 2-0) — Picking a team to rank fifth was tough. Teams four through nine are pretty even when you look at their results, but the Thunderbirds get the nod because of their league record. Southern Utah has still not beaten a Division I team in its non-conference schedule. The Thunderbirds have two games left to try, at UNLV Tuesday and at home against Sacramento State Saturday.
6. Western Illinois (4-7, 1-0) — The Leathernecks fell by one at Southeast Missouri State. Josh Rivers led WIU with 17 points and five assists. The Leathernecks wrap up their non-conference season Saturday at Iowa then restart conference play with two home league games (Southern Utah and UMKC). WIU could put themselves in a favorable position in the league if it can protect its home court in those two games.
7. Oral Roberts (3-10, 1-1) — Do I think Oral Roberts is the seventh best team in the Summit League? No. But the Golden Eagles have really struggled in their non-conference season, going 2-10 so I can’t justify ranking them in the top half of the league. Oral Roberts has had just two home games and should fare well once the conference season starts, but there is no guarantees. The Golden Eagles salvaged their trip to Puerto Rico with a 20-point win over South Florida (4-7) after falling to Wright State and Murray State. Oral Roberts plays its final non-conference at USC Dec. 28.
8. IPFW (4-8, 0-2) — The Mastodons played No. 10 Purdue even in the second half, 33-34, in a 70-55 loss Monday. It was an improvement for IPFW, which got embarrassed in the second half at Nebraska, getting outscored 46-14 in the half before falling 75-48. Leading scorer David Carson has just five points total in IPFW’s last two games. The Mastodons wrap up their non-conference season at North Florida Sunday.
9. South Dakota State (5-8, 1-1) — Freshman guard Griffan Callahan, who transferred from North Dakota, had 14 points and six rebounds off the bench in his debut for the Jacks, but his team fell 72-55 to Northern Iowa. Kai Williams continues to come off the bench and had just two points against Northern Iowa. Second-leading scorer Clint Sargent came off the bench and scored 11 points. SDSU coach Scott Nagy has now started 10 players, two or more games this season.
10. Centenary (2-10, 0-2) — Twelve straight road games down, three to go for the Gents. Centenary fell 73-51 at Kansas State. Nick Stallings had 27 points and seven rebounds, Anthony Gatlin had seven points and no other Centenary player had more than four. The Gents play at Texas Tech Tuesday and then at Missouri on Dec. 30 to wrap up their non-conference schedule. Centenary’s final road game of 15 straight to start the season is at Oral Roberts on Jan. 2.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really are using that NAU game as an example? A game where they never got closer than 7 points and in which NDSU had a 16 point lead with 3:55 to go? You can talk about road struggles but lets not make a game into something it was not.

December 25, 2008 at 8:11 PM 
Blogger Dave Pemberton said...

I didn't say they struggled in the game at Northern Arizona. I used that game and the home game against Northern Arizona as an example of NDSU playing better at home than on the road. The Bison won the home game much easier, at least looking at the final score.

NDSU is a contender for the Summit League title, but must play better on the road this season to have a shot at the regular season title. That's the only point I was trying to make, thanks for the feedback.

December 25, 2008 at 8:28 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with what you are saying, the jury is still out on NDSU in regards to the road. So far the team's road play is encouraging but they still aren't finishing like they need to.

That said, I'd say the jury is out for every team. Should be interesting to see what happens when conference play starts up.

December 25, 2008 at 11:31 PM 

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