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

Monday, March 2, 2009

Final Summit League power rankings

1. North Dakota State (23-6, 16-2 Summit) — The Bison earned their first outright conference title since 1981 by going into the Mabee Center and beating Oral Roberts, which was looking for a share of its fifth straight title. Senior Ben Woodside hit 7 of 8 free throws in the final 34.9 seconds to lift NDSU to the win and cement his spot as the Summit League Player of the Year. Woodside had 29 points in the win, while Brett Winkelman had 21 and Michael Tveidt had 17. The rest of the team combined for eight points. Depth looks to be NDSU’s only weakness heading into the tournament.
2. Oral Roberts (16-14, 14-4) — The Golden Eagles played likely their best game in the month of February in their loss at home to North Dakota State. Oral Roberts had a shot at its fifth-straight regular-season league title, but now must focus on trying to win its fourth-straight tournament title. The Golden Eagles had the advantage of the tournament being in Tulsa the last four years, but now must face South Dakota State in Sioux Falls, S.D. in the first round. The loss at home to NDSU snapped ORU’s streak of 35 straight wins at home in league play.
3. Oakland (20-11, 13-5) — The Golden Grizzlies are likely the hottest team entering the league tournament after winning their last seven. Oakland has won by an average of 13.4 points during its seven-game win streak and have averaged 82.3 points per game. Senior Erik Kangas hit five 3-pointers in the Grizzlies win over UMKC, which give him 119 on the year and breaks former UMKC great Michael Watson’s single-season league record of 118 3-pointers. Kangas’ 4.0 3-pointers per game is the third most in the nation and his 42.3 3-point percentage is 21st in the nation.
4. IUPUI (16-13, 9-9) — The Jaguars ended Western Illinois season with a 71-66 win in Macomb, Ill. The Leathernecks knew they needed to beat IUPUI to get in, but couldn’t get past the Jags. IUPUI had four players in double figures in the win lead by 17 from Alex Young, but had just seven bench points. The starting five of Young, Robert Glenn, Gary Patterson, Leroy Nobles and Jon Avery is likely the Jaguars best unit and expect those five to start in Sioux Falls.
5. IPFW (13-16, 8-10) — The Mastodons enter the tournament on a three-game winning streak and have won five of their last seven after starting off league play 3-8. Senior David Carson and junior Delivez Yearby have been huge during the three game winning streak. Carson has averaged 17.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, while Yearby averaged 10 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. The Mastodons will face Oakland, which swept them during the regular season.
6. Southern Utah (10-19, 8-10) — The Thunderbirds dropped a pair of road games last week, but still managed to get the five seed. In the first round, SUU will face IUPUI, one of only two teams to sweep SUU this season. The Thunderbirds averaged just 57 points a game in the two losses last week, while giving up 73.5. Davis Baker averaged 13.5 points a game, but no other player averaged in double figures.
7. South Dakota State (12-19, 7-11) — The Jacks road losing streak continued with a pair of losses at Oral Roberts and Centenary last week, which dropped them to the seven seed. But SDSU enters the tournament as a dangerous team. The Jacks nearly upset ORU before falling in the final minutes and will be just an hour from campus for the rematch in the first round of the tournament. Second leading scorer Clint Sargent returned from an ankle injury to score 20 points in 26 minutes in the loss at Centenary.
8. Centenary (6-12, 8-22) — The Gents are now playing with house money after sneaking into the conference tournament with a win over South Dakota State. Centenary lost eight straight prior to the win over the Jacks. Senior Nick Stallings scored 22 points in the win over SDSU and the Gents clearly need Stallings' scoring to win games. Stallings averaged just 9.1 points per game during Centenary’s eight-game losing streak after scoring 16.2 per game when the Gents started conference play 5-4. Centenary is 3-0 in league play when Stallings scores 20 or more.
9. Western Illinois (9-20, 6-12) — The Leathernecks had three straight home games to end the season and needed to win just one to get in the conference tournament, but failed to do so. It’s a shame senior David DuBois career had to end like that. DuBois played hurt for most of the season and was a great competitor. WIU will also lose second-leading scorer Josh Rivers so head coach Jim Molinari will have a lot of work to do, but he has the long-term contract to get it done.
10. UMKC (7-24, 3-15) — The Kangaroos showed a lot of heart in its loss at Oakland by not giving up when they were down 20 early and making it an interesting game. UMKC could be a dangerous team next season depending on how hard the core of underclassmen work in the offseason. The Roos only lose senior Dane Brumagin, who showed a lot of toughness playing hurt the last few weeks. Playing on one foot, Brumagin scored 14 points against Oakland when most guys might have just quit on the team.

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