Summit League men's basketball tournament field, at a glance
A quick look at all 10 teams in the men's tournament
SIOUX FALLS — The 10-team Summit League men's basketball tournament hits Sioux Falls on Friday, with five days and 13 games coming to a close with the conference championship game at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 7 at the Premier Center.
Here's a look at every team in the men's bracket:
NOTE: NET rankings as of Feb. 27.
No. 1 Oral Roberts
Records: 27-4, 18-0 Summit
NCAA NET ranking: 44
Coach: Paul Mills, sixth season
Summit tourney history in Sioux Falls: ORU won the 2021 title as the No. 4 seed and then won two games in the NCAA tournament to make the conference’s first run to the Sweet 16 in more than 20 years. The Golden Eagles have the Summit’s top seed for the first time since 2012, but ORU has made the Summit League title game twice since the tournament moved to South Dakota.
Story of their season: Oral Roberts finished the season as the only team in the nation to go undefeated in its conference regular-season schedule, leading the Summit in scoring offense (84.8 points per game) and scoring defense (66.7 points per game) in conference games. Oral Roberts’ four losses came to Saint Mary’s, Houston, Utah State and New Mexico, all teams in the mix for NCAA bids. The Golden Eagles have a top-25 offense nationally, according to KenPom.com
One fact to know: ORU has is the nation’s third-best 3-point shooting team in the country on a per-game basis, making 10.9 triples per game.
No. 2 South Dakota State
Records: 18-12, 13-5 Summit
NCAA NET ranking: 149
Coach: Eric Henderson, fourth season
Summit tourney history in Sioux Falls: The Jackrabbits have won it all six times in Sioux Falls, with the most recent coming just last season. Seven of the last 11 Summit League title games have involved the Jackrabbits, who are 24-8 all-time playing in the conference tournament.
Story of their season: The season has had its bumps for the Jackrabbits, who won 30 games a season ago. SDSU was 5-7 in non-conference play but earned a win at Boise State that has aged as the Summit’s best non-conference victory, and then put it together with seven wins in conference play in February to climb to the No. 2 seed.
One fact to know: SDSU ranks No. 3 in the nation in free-throw percentage at 79.6%.
No. 3 North Dakota State
Records: 14-16, 11-7 Summit
NCAA NET ranking: 206
Coach: Dave Richman, ninth season
Summit tourney history in Sioux Falls: For being across the state line, NDSU has had its share of success in Sioux Falls. It has played in four consecutive championship games, winning in 2019 and 2020, and has played in eight of the last 10 title games, winning NCAA trips five times.
Story of their season: The Bison lost four starters at the end of last season and while the overall record isn’t what NDSU used to, the second half of the season has been a good bounce back from a 3-9 non-conference schedule. Star forward Grant Nelson has powered the Bison back to the No. 3 seed, which is not bad considering the roster has no seniors and has seven of its top-nine players in terms of minutes as underclassmen.
One fact to know: In Summit League play, Grant Nelson is averaging 19.9 points, a league-leading 9.8 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. Nelson is the conference's only player this season to rank top-five in scoring and field goal percentage.
No. 4 Western Illinois
Records: 16-13, 9-9 Summit
NCAA NET ranking: 241
Coach: Rob Jeter, third season
Summit tourney history in Sioux Falls: Western Illinois is hoping to summon 2012 again, when the Leathernecks nearly knocked off the Jackrabbits in overtime in the Summit League title game. The Leathernecks’ last win in Sioux Falls did get the job done, defeating the top-seeded Jacks in 2019 in the quarterfinals, 79-76.
Story of their season: Guard Trenton Massner helped expedite the Leathernecks’ rise in the Summit League standings for the best finish since the 2013 season. Massner had 19.3 points per game, including a 46-point showing against North Dakota earlier in the year. WIU had a tough February, losing five of seven games in the month after a signature home overtime win over the Jacks.
One fact to know: The Leathernecks have won two games over Division I teams with a winning record this season: home victories over St. Thomas and South Dakota State.
No. 5 St. Thomas
Records: 18-13, 9-9 Summit
NCAA NET ranking: 199
Coach: Johnny Tauer, 12th season
Summit tourney history in Sioux Falls: This is UST’s first appearance in Sioux Falls. Still going through the NCAA’s probationary period with the move to Division I, if the Tommies win the tournament, Oral Roberts would earn the Summit’s automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA tournament as the Summit League regular-season champion.
Story of their season: The Tommies continued their climb in the Summit League in year 2, getting to 9-9 in league play and boasting the conference’s second-best scoring offense. UST defeated SDSU and NDSU and nearly knocked off Oral Roberts at home this season, plus it gave Creighton a challenge in the season opener.
One fact to know: Freshman Andrew Rohde leads the Tommies in scoring at nearly 17 points per game, which is seventh-best in the conference and third-best in the country among freshmen.
No. 6 South Dakota
Records: 12-18, 7-11 Summit
NCAA NET ranking: 296
Coach: Eric Peterson, first season
Summit tourney history in Sioux Falls: The Coyotes have a 6-10 record at the Premier Center and reached the championship game in 2018. USD has reached the semifinal round six times since 2015 but is 1-5 in those games.
Story of the Coyotes’ season: The Coyotes likely look at the Summit tournament as one last reset for a season that has never seemed to be fully on track. USD closed the season with losses in five of its last six games and was 2-11 in road games, with an offense that has struggled to find a rhythm this season, ranking in the bottom 20th percentile nationally. The trio of Kruz Perrott-Hurt, A.J. Plitzuweit and Tasos Kamateros average a combined 38 points per game.
One fact to know: The Coyotes are ranked No. 6 nationally in 3-point percentage, hitting at a 39.5% clip and making nine per game.
No. 7 Kansas City
Records: 11-20, 7-11 Summit
NCAA NET ranking: 301
Coach: Marvin Menzies, first season
Summit tourney history in Sioux Falls: Kansas City is 0-2 since coming back to the league for the 2021 tournament after a foray in the WAC, and the Roos didn’t win a game at the old Sioux Falls Arena either, meaning Kansas City’s next Summit tourney win will be its first since 2007.
Story of their season: The Roos come into the Summit League tournament on a major skid, losing their last five games, and Kansas City is one of the nation’s poorest shooting teams, ranking 347th in the country shooting at 39.3% from the field. All of that comes despite the Roos having a decent non-conference run, picking up neutral site wins over Toledo and Indiana State, which both rank in the top-100 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, something that Oral Roberts doesn’t even have for a potential at-large case.
One fact to know: Kansas City is the nation’s seventh-best offensive rebounding team, pulling down more than 13 per game.
No. 8 Denver
Records: 15-16, 6-12 Summit
NCAA NET ranking: 283
Coach: Jeff Wulbrun, second season
Summit tourney history in Sioux Falls: The Pioneers have won three times in Sioux Falls, one each in 2014, 2016 and 2018. But Denver has never had much luck in the conference tournament format, only appearing in the title game once in 2005, when they were still in the Sun Belt Conference.
Story of their season: Denver has many of the traits that should point to a successful team in the conference, with a good shooting percentage and an ability to get to the free-throw line. However, the Pioneers’ defense allows more than 75 points per game, which has given DU its share of blowouts in 2023, losing seven times in conference play by 15 points or more. Denver lost seven of eight conference games late in the year but finished with a pair of wins to go to Sioux Falls on an up note.
One fact to know: While there are plenty of 3-point happy teams in the Summit League, Denver isn’t one of them. They average just 13.9 attempts per game, which is 351th in the country out of 352 teams.
No. 9 North Dakota
Records: 12-19, 6-12 Summit
NCAA NET ranking: 284
Coach: Paul Sather, fourth season
Summit tourney history in Sioux Falls: In 2020, UND rattled off a pair of wins to get to the championship game, where it was blown out by rival NDSU, 89-53. Other than that, UND hasn’t won.
Story of their season: Six straight conference losses to open the season never allowed the Fighting Hawks to get anything going in Summit League play, leaving them assured of playing on the tournament’s new opening Friday. Five wins in UND’s last seven games have shown promise, potentially making UND tough to face in Sioux Falls.
One fact to know: UND has made at least one 3-pointer in each of its last 155 games, dating back to March 1, 2018. The Fighting Hawks had a program-best 18 3-pointers in a win over Kansas City earlier in the year.
No. 10 Omaha
Records: 8-22, 4-14 Summit
NCAA NET ranking: 320
Coach: Chris Crutchfield, first season
Summit tourney history in Sioux Falls: The Mavericks have been close to breaking through for their first NCAA tournament appearance twice, falling to SDSU in 2017 and NDSU in 2019 in title game.
Story of their season: The Mavericks struggled in a number of categories, including 1-15 in road games during the season and finding a consistent scorer around guard Frankie Fidler. Nine straight conference losses didn’t help either. A silver lining is that the eight-win season is a step forward after back-to-back five-win seasons that led to the Mavericks looking for a new coach.
One fact to know: Omaha is 2-17 this season when scoring 69 points or less.