Max Abmas, Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, Summit League Tournament Preview

CBB Review prepares you for every conference tournament leading up to Selection Sunday. Up next: The Summit League Tournament.

The Summit League Tournament begins on Friday, and perhaps no team has as much at stake as Oral Roberts. At 27-4, the Golden Eagles are the overwhelming favorite to earn the automatic bid. But anything short, and the low mid-major team’s tournament outlook will be in the hands of the committee on Selection Sunday.

2023 Summit League Conference Awards

Player of the Year: Max Abmas, Oral Roberts

Freshman of the Year: Andrew Rohde, St. Thomas

Transfer of the Year: Connor Vanover, Oral Roberts

Coach of the Year: John Tauer, St. Thomas

First Team:

  • G: Max Abmas, Oral Roberts (22.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.2 SPG)
  • G: Trenton Massner, Western Illinois (19.3 PPG, 5.3 APG, 5.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG)
  • G: Zeke Mayo, South Dakota State (18.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 38.4 3P%)
  • F: Grant Nelson, North Dakota State (17.9 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.7 BPG, 53.2 FG%)
  • F: Connor Vanover, Oral Roberts (12.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 0.8 APG, 3.2 BPG)

Second Team:

  • G: Matt Dentlinger, South Dakota State (12.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.2 APG, 58.8 FG%)
  • G: Boden Skunberg, North Dakota State (14.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.5 APG)
  • G: Andrew Rohde, St. Thomas (16.7 PPG, 3.7 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.6 SPG)
  • G: Shemarri Allen, Kansas City (17.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, 2.0 SPG,
  • F: Parker Bjorklund, St. Thomas (14.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.2 APG)

Summit League Tournament Simulation

First Round – Friday, Mar. 3

8. Denver (15-16, 6-12) vs. 9. North Dakota (12-19, 6-12) – 7 p.m. on ESPN+

North Dakota and Denver split the season series, but it should be noted that the Fighting Hawks won by 23 points on Feb. 9. This game is in Denver, however, and two of North Dakota’s top four scorers – B.J. Omot and Treysen Eaglestaff – are both freshmen. The potential for next year is very high for North Dakota, but Denver seems like the smart pick here.

Mat’s pick: 8. Denver

7. Kansas City (11-20, 7-11) vs. 10. Omaha (8-22, 4-14) – 9:30 p.m. on ESPN+

Speaking about freshmen, Omaha is loaded with them. In fact, the top six scorers for the Mavericks are all freshmen or sophomores. If this team stays together for the near future, they can be a serious problem in the Summit League. But the defense of Kansas City will be too much for an inexperienced team to handle.

Mat’s pick: 7. Kansas City

Quarterfinals – Saturday, Mar. 4

1. Oral Roberts (27-4, 18-0) vs. 8. Denver – 7 p.m. on ESPN+

No team dominated its mid-major conference as much as Oral Roberts did this season. They beat Denver by a combined 57 points in the two regular season games. That’s about all you need to know about this game.

Mat’s pick: 1. Oral Roberts

2. South Dakota State (18-12, 13-5) vs. 7. Kansas City – 9:30 p.m. on ESPN+

While Kansas City has the defense to make this a close game, the Roos are also one of the least inefficient teams in the country, shooting it at less than 40% from the field as a team. That just won’t fly when buckets become crucial down the stretch.

Mat’s pick: 2. South Dakota State

Quarterfinals – Sunday, Mar. 5

4. Western Illinois (16-13, 9-9) vs. 5. St. Thomas (18-13, 9-9) – 7 p.m. on ESPN+

Hats off to St. Thomas head coach John Tauer, who got the Tommies the 5-seed in just their second year as a Division I program. Unfortunately, that means they won’t be allowed to play in the NCAA Tournament if they win the Summit League Tournament. Makes a lot of sense, right? It doesn’t keep them from advancing though, and they’re facing a Leathernecks team that has lost five of their last seven games. However, they’ll have to overcome Trenton Massner, who is one of the best scorers in the league.

Mat’s pick: 5. St. Thomas

3. North Dakota State (14-16, 11-7) vs. 6. South Dakota (12-18, 7-11) – 9:30 p.m. on ESPN+

You’ve gotta give a lot of credit to NDSU, who started the season 3-11, and ended it winning 11 of their past 16 games. They also haven’t lost a home game since Jan. 21, and are facing a struggling Coyotes team.

Mat’s pick: 3. North Dakota State

Semifinals – Monday, Mar. 6

1. Oral Roberts vs. 5. St. Thomas – 7 p.m. on ESPN+

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a very close game – Oral Roberts ought to be feeling a lot of pressure in this tournament. Mid-majors honestly get some unfair treatment in March, and this could be one example. But when it comes down to it, simultaneously keeping Max Abmas in check and trying to score on Connor Vanover is next to impossible.

Mat’s pick: 1. Oral Roberts

2. South Dakota State vs. 3. North Dakota State – 9:30 p.m. on ESPN+

North Dakota State won in their building by six, and SDSU won in theirs by five, so this game is as even as it gets. I think it really comes down to Zeke Mayo. The Jackrabbits’ star sophomore has been balling out lately, including a season-high 41 points AGAINST the Bison. Could we see another 40-piece in the Summit League Tournament?

Mat’s pick: 2. South Dakota State

Championship – Tuesday, Mar. 7

1. Oral Roberts vs. 2. South Dakota State – 9 p.m. on ESPN2

Offensive basketball fans dream of matchups like this. Max Abmas vs. Zeke Mayo is box office television. These teams have won the last two Summit League Tournament championships, so it also would settle a lot between the two programs. But if I’m going with anybody, it’s going to be Max Abmas. He had 8 and 12 points respectively against the Jackrabbits this season. Could it happen a third time? Definitely. But will he do everything in his power to make sure it doesn’t? I’ll bank on that.

Mat’s pick: 1. Oral Roberts