Thursday, March 3, 2016

Summit League conference tournament preview

This is part 12 of a 32-part series that will take a look at every conference and conference tournament in the country.  We'll recap who's playing and what the stakes are for each team in the conference.

The standings:
IPFW 12-4 (23-8)
South Dakota St 12-4 (23-7)
Omaha 10-6 (18-12)
IUPUI 9-7 (13-18)
North Dakota St 8-8 (18-12)
Denver 7-9 (15-14)
Oral Roberts 6-10 (14-16)
South Dakota 5-11 (14-17)
Western Illinois 3-13 (10-17)

Tournament format:
Neutral site in Sioux Falls.  4 days from Saturday March 5 to Tuesday March 8 as they share the tournament.  They cut off the bottom team, so no WIU.

The matchups:
1) IPFW vs. 8) South Dakota
4) IUPUI vs. 5) North Dakota St
2) South Dakota St vs. 7) Oral Roberts
3) Omaha vs. 6) Denver

The stakes:
The tiebreaker puts IPFW with the one seed and the automatic NIT bid.  IPFW sitting on a RPI of 65 but their only top 100 win is South Dakota St at home, so don't get any ideas about them.  The Summit is quite amazingly 11th in conference RPI.  Adding this up likely means a 13 seed if they win.

Probably the same for South Dakota St as well.  Their RPI is actually inside the top 50, but their 3 Top 100 wins are IPFW, MTSU, and UCSB.  So no at-large ideas here either.  Would it be enough for an NIT bid?  Just based on pure resume, the co-champs of the #11 conference is likely, but not guaranteed, to be good enough for an at-large bid there.  As for NCAA seed, a 13 seems likely as well based on the current landscape.  In the end, no matter how good the CRPI is, you need quality wins to reach the 11 and 12 lines.

Further down, Omaha and NDSU seem likely to get postseason invites, while Denver is more of a bubble team there.  It's no trivial feat for this league to get as high as they got in the RPI, and it's also no trivial feat to have a team in legit NIT at-large territory.  There's some smoke and mirrors based on the resumes of IPFW and SDSU, but still.

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