With bunched standings in the Summit League, the top programs must hold serve at home and steal a couple of wins on the road to stay in the top four. South Dakota already stole one of Denver’s home games, 75-69, on January 4th. This week, Denver (11-7, 3-2) goes on the road against Omaha (10-9, 3-3) Wednesday and IUPUI (8-11, 2-3) Saturday.
Denver needs to steal back the earlier home loss to the South Dakota Coyotes.
So far, the Pioneers have played only one game on the road (87-83 loss to Fort Wayne). All the other teams ahead of the Pioneers in the Summit League have played two or more games on the road and all have won at least once. First place North Dakota State has played 3 games on the road and won 2 – so they are in excellent shape in the early going. Omaha is 2-2 on the road and has played only one home game. After road splits, expect them to play even tougher at home. They are coming off three straight league wins.
As for attendance, Omaha had 1,559 fans in the building for their 80-78 loss to a very good Fort Wayne team. DU’s other opponent this week, IUPUI has won one of their three road games – a 91-85 victory over Oral Roberts University. The Jaguars had 842 fans at their opener and 1,106 fans at their last game – a home loss to Omaha, 79-71. If home court attendance is any indication, the environment at Omaha and IUPUI should not be as hostile as many of the other home courts in the Summit League. The Pioneers will probably struggle against other teams with rabid home crowds and raucous student sections.
While the Pioneers have exceeded expectations so far, if DU wants to remain in the top tier of the Summit League, they need at least a win this week. If Denver is able to manage to grab two, they will send a signal to the rest of the League that they are a top tier Summit League program – well ahead of schedule under head coach Rodney Billups and his staff.
It should be a very interesting week for DU hoops.