ORU Enters Summit League Men’s Basketball Championship as Third Seed
ELMHURST, Ill. – Oakland University will enter The Summit League Men’s Basketball Championship as the top seed for the first time in school history. The Golden Grizzlies and seven other teams will begin play at the tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Saturday, March 6 and continue through to the title game that determines The Summit League’s automatic bid to the Tournament on Tuesday, March 9.
The Golden Grizzlies (23-8, 17-1) secured the number one spot with a week remaining in the regular season and finished with league records for victories (17) and winning percentage (.944). Oakland will face No. 8 seed (12-17, 6-12) in the first quarterfinal at 6 p.m. (CT) on March 6 (Midcontinent). Following that game, No. 2 seed IUPUI (22-9, 15-3) will meet No. 7 Western Illinois (13-16, 6-12) at 8:30 p.m. (Midcontinent/ESPN Full Court).
Sunday’s quarterfinal games pit No. 4 South Dakota State (14-15, 10-8) against No. 5 (15-14, 9-9) at 6 p.m. (Midcontinent/ESPN Full Court) followed by No. 3 Oral Roberts (19-12, 13-5) versus defending champion No. 6 North Dakota State (11-17, 8-10) at 8:30 p.m. (Midcontinent/ESPN Full Court).
Saturday’s quarterfinal winners will meet in the first semifinal Monday at 6 p.m. (Metro Sports/ESPN Full Court) while Sunday’s winners advance to the second semifinal at 8:30 p.m. (Metro Sports/ESPN Full Court). Tuesday’s championship game tips at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN2.
The Summit League will be playing its tournament in Sioux Falls for the second consecutive season after setting attendance and corporate sponsorship records at last year’s event. This season, all men’s and women’s tournament games will be televised, including five men’s contests that will have a national reach via Full Court plus the title game that will air nationally on ESPN2.
Oakland, who was ranked ninth in last week’s CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll, rides an eight-game win streak into the tournament, boasts The Summit League’s top scoring offense (76.7 ppg), and features three players who were first team preseason all-league selections. Center Keith Benson (17.4 ppg) leads the league in rebounding (10.0), blocked shots (3.3) and double-doubles (16) and ranks among the national leaders in each category. Seniors Johnathon Jones (12.7 ppg), the league’s assists leader (6.5), and Derick Nelson (11.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg) round out the trio.
IUPUI enters the tournament on a four-game win streak and is the only league team to have beaten top-seeded Oakland this season. The Jaguars feature the league’s top two scorers in Robert Glenn (19.3), a six-time player of the week selection this season, and Alex Young (18.8) while Jon Avery is the league leader in field goal percentage (.636). As a team, IUPUI tops the league in scoring margin (+8.1), field goal percentage (.509), three-point field goal percentage (.390), assists (15.5 ppg) and steals (8.9).
Third-seeded Oral Roberts enters the tournament having won five consecutive games. The Golden Eagles are the league’s top team in rebounding margin (+5.1) and rank second in scoring defense (66.1 ppg). was the lone Summit League team to have beaten a nationally-ranked opponent this season (No. 12 New Mexico) and owns win against Stanford and Missouri. Dominique Morrison (15.5 ppg) and Kevin Ford (12.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg) lead a balanced attack that also features a pair of newcomers in Michael Craion (13.2 ppg) and Warren Niles (12.7 ppg).
The quarterfinal matchup between fourth-seeded South Dakota State and fifth-seeded will pit The Summit league’s top two three-point shooters against each other. The Mastodons’ Ben Botts leads the league in three-point percentage (.452) while the Jackrabbits’ Clint Sargent is tops in three-pointers made per game (2.3) and is second in percentage (.422). also features Deilvez Yearby, who ranks second in the league in both rebounding (8.9 rpg) and blocked shots (2.6 bpg).
Sixth-seeded North Dakota State looks to defend its title after topping Oakland in last year’s championship game. The Bison, who own the second-best assist to turnover ratio in The Summit League (1.1), posses three of the league’s top-12 scorers in Michael Tveidt (15.5 ppg), Eric Carlson (14.9) and Josh Vaughan (13.8).
Western Illinois, the No. 7 seed, and , the No. 8 seed, both return to the field after missing last season’s tournament.
The Fighting Leathernecks are among the nation’s top defensive teams and lead The Summit League in fewest points allowed per game (59.6), lowest field goal percentage (.396) and lowest three-point field goal percentage (.311). WIU’s Ceola Clark leads The Summit League and ranks among the leaders in steals per game (2.7) while James Granstra is third in the league in blocked shots per game (2.5). The Kangaroos own the league’s best turnover margin (+1.4) and are led by newcomer Jay Couisnard (14.3 ppg) along with LaTreze Mushatt (11.3 ppg) and Trey McKinney-Jones (10.9 ppg).
Tickets for the 2010 Summit League Basketball Championship can be purchased at all TicketMaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com, or in person at the Sioux Falls Arena Box Office.
All men’s quarterfinal and semifinal games can be seen online through SummitTV live streaming. For $4.95 fans can purchase individual games or for $19.95 view all of the men’s and women’s tournament quarterfinal and semifinal action.
For complete information on this year’s tournament, click on The Summit League Basketball Championship button at www.thesummitleague.org.