It's been 10 days since our first installment of our Summit League Power Rankings, and a lot has happened. The conference went from picking up a few great opening week wins to coming up short across the nation in lame fashion. This week marks the beginning of the first conference games which should tell us more about a few teams (that's for you, UMKC) that at present are looking pretty good but have went untested. One thing is for sure, almost every team had at least one game where it looked pretty bad during the last 10 days. With that, we present our latest rankings based on the lamest losses.
#1. Oral Roberts (Lame Loss: at home to Indiana State)
It's not like Oral Roberts to drop a home game, let alone its home opener against a middling Missouri Valley team. But that's what happened two Saturdays ago at the Mabee Center. The game would have provided the Golden Eagles an opportunity to get on the right track after two tough opening losses, yet they came up short even despite a big effort from freshman big man Steven Roundtree. Fortunately, ORU seems to be getting things together now that Warren Niles is scoring in bunches and sophomore break-out candidate Damen Bell-Holter is putting together complete efforts. That is what helped the team spring the Red Line Upset over Utah and why another one seems possible Tuesday night at Texas Tech. If the Golden Eagles get consistent guard play and a return of the injured Michael Craion, that 0-3 start will be long forgotten.
#2. Oakland (Lame Loss: at Wright State)
Oakland had a big lead over the Raiders into the second half but several defensive lapses led to a big Wright State comeback which the Grizzlies could not overcome in the end. Just two days after fighting valiantly against Purdue, Oakland could not keep up the defensive intensity in Dayton, Ohio, leading to an 82-79 loss. Though OU bounced back over the weekend with wins against Southern and Austin Peay, beating Wright State would have meant a lot more for the program especially in a year where games against good mid-majors are few and far between in the non-conference schedule.
#3. North Dakota State (Lame Loss: at Green Bay)
It's very hard to discredit what North Dakota State did at the three-game tournament in Oregon to start the season, but the program could have made a bigger statement with a win at Green Bay in its first true road game against a mid-major. The Phoenix have a new coach this year and things haven't been exactly glowing thus far for the team (as a 63-46 loss to IUPUI would indicate). Despite having a near equal shooting night, winning the rebound battle, and distributing the ball better than Green Bay, the Bison came up short by two-points. Turnovers likely did them in at the Resch Center, a tough way to lose to a team that the Bison will probably look a little better than in the long-run.
#4. IUPUI (Lame Loss: at Miami, Ohio)
Though the Jaguars only lost by a point, the game against Miami of the Ohio persuasion represented a great opportunity for them to make a statement against a MAC school. Just like Oakland, games against the MAC and Horizon League are important for IUPUI because of its general proximity to schools in those conferences. The Redhawks have played a rather tough schedule up to this point, but the Jaguars could have shown some mettle by going into Oxford and picking up a win. Unfortunately, poor shooting and a reliance on the three-ball led to the "L" for the Jags. The non-conference schedule has not been nice to Ron Hunter's squad thus far, so it's probably a good thing their first conference games are at home. Centenary will be hungry and looking for its first win, so it'll be important that IUPUI doesn't look ahead to the Saturday tilt with Oral Roberts.
#5. Southern Utah (Lame Loss: vs. Drake or Ball State)
How does Southern Utah lose to Utah State by just 13 points and then get drubbed by Drake and Ball State by 19-points each AND on a neutral court? Quite simple, the Thunderbirds are having trouble putting points on the board, and that doesn't appear to be by some Western Illinois-inspired design. The loss to Utah State is anything by lame, but this Summit League enthusiast would like to see a bit more of a competitive product against schools like Drake and Ball State.
#6. Western Illinois (Lame Loss: vs. Morgan State)
A lot of folks will look at this and say, "Western Illinois lost to a MEAC team?" In all fairness, Morgan State is a fairly solid squad despite its conference affiliation and has made the NCAA Tournament the past two years under the head coaching revival of Todd Bozeman. What bothers us about this loss most is the margin: 19-points. This is the same team that took Missouri to the wire a week earlier and at least held on against Wyoming. The WIU everything-man Ceola Clark was out for this game which probably explains a lot, but hopefully future Leatherneck losses will not be as lopsided as this affair.
#7. Centenary (Lame Loss: at Tulane)
We won't be poking fun at the Gents this season, but you'd like to see them score more than 36 points against a pretty bad Conference USA. We understand Centenary essentially has a Division III roster right now and every point should be welcomed kindly, so here's to hoping the open of conference season allows them to be a bit more competitive.
In The Ether
UMKC dropped its first game of the season on Monday night at Wichita State, a team that is projected to lead the way in the Missouri Valley this season. It was also UMKC's first real test of the young season after three straight games against teams from the bottom of Division I. The Roos only lost by 19 but there was a point where the Shockers went on a 28-1 run, showing that UMKC will struggle to score points against legitimate defenses. Reggie Chamberlain had a solid game, but Wichita State held the UMKC star, Jay Cousinard, to 3-13 shooting. We don't consider this to be a very lame loss, quite simple because it's still tough to judge UMKC based on the schedule. We'll learn more this weekend as Summit League play begins.
Anything But Lame
South Dakota State
We're in week three of the college hoops season and the Jackrabbits have yet to lose. Their last two wins have come in a resounding fashion, no doubt due to the team's ridiculous three-point shooting. As of this post, SDSU leads the nation in three-point field goal percentage at 49.5%. Conventional wisdom would say that this figure will surely come back down to earth soon, but at this point it might not drop very far. The Jackrabbits have a high-profile home game on Tuesday against Nevada, and even though the Wolfpack look down this year, they should still present the Jacks with their first legitimate test since Iowa. Following that, we'll see if SDSU can take down rival NDSU at Frost Arena on Saturday. That will be THE conference game of the weekend.
The Mastodons did have a loss in this timeframe, at Cincinnati, but they hung tight with the Bearcats throughout the game. It was the second time in a week that Dane Fife's crew went to Cinci (first, Xavier) and came away with a loss that most would label a "good" loss. In essence, it would have been too tough to call this one a lame loss. We'll see if the Dons can take care of business this weekend as they host UMKC and SUU. If IPFW is a contender in the conference this season, these are the games it must win.
Red Line Upset Watch:
During our league preview series, we had a post laying out all of the games where Summit League teams would play against teams from above the Red Line. Here we keep track of how they have fared thus far:
Summit League: 2/10 (20%)
National: 49/340 (14.4%) [per The Mid-Majority]