Against the odds – Denver to face Jackrabbits in Sioux Falls again

Illustration: We used this same illustration last year and it still applies.

The DU men’s basketball team (16-13, 8-8 Summit) are facing an uphill battle in Sioux Falls, South Dakota when they face the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits (16-18, 8-8 Summit) on March 5th at 5:00 pm MT. While Team Rankings is giving DU an 11.13%  statistical chance of winning three games and the championship, most prognosticators would say that is optimistic for Denver’s youthful squad. Few expect them to make it out of the first round.

So far, the Pioneers are 0-for-59 when it comes to Division I league championships.

There are, however, five reasons for hope:

The Case for DU

  • The Pioneers are playing with house money. Since the Pioneers faded down the stretch, losing 4 out of 5, expectations are low. DU has nothing to lose and they can play loose. That is to Denver’s advantage.
  • Every team in the Summit League can beat every other team. Sure, the odds shift even more to the teams from the Dakotas because they have a home court advantage in Sioux Falls. But DU has beaten South Dakota once already this season. They can do it again.
  • The Pioneers played their worst game of the season this past Saturday against SDSU. What are the odds that Denver will have the worst game of the season again and miss 50% of their free throws? Shoot 41.7% from the field? Allow 56.9% shooting? Give up 50% of opponents 3-point shots for 42 points? It isn’t going to happen – even if the Pioneers come up on the short end. The game will be close.
  • If Daniel Amigo can hold his own against Mike Daum (<25 pts., <10 rebounds), that will give Joe Rosga a chance to take over the game. Rosga can do it – and don’t think he doesn’t remember last year’s game ending missed free throw in the Summit League Tournament semifinals – on that same floor against that same team. He is a competitor – he wants to go back and redeem himself – against the same SDSU team.

The final reason for rooting for the Pioneers is karma. SDSU is playing with two rent-a-graduate seniors transfers,  A.J. Hess and Michael Orris.  DU has a longstanding policy of developing their own players over 4-years. The Denver squad is comprised of 100% DU recruited and developed players. Cut Denver players and they bleed crimson and gold. Cut South Dakota players and they bleed blue, yellow, scarlet, white, black and cardinal – what a mess.

Below are the stats. Pretty even.

SCORING  SDSU  Denver
   Points per game  77.5  75.9 
   Scoring margin  -0.3  +1.6 
FIELD GOALS-ATT  783-1707  785-1625
   Field goal pct  .459  .483 
3 POINT FG-ATT  294-798  217-540 
   3-point FG pct  .368  .402 
   3-pt FG made per game  9.5  7.5 
FREE THROWS-ATT  541-701  413-563
   Free throw pct  .772  .734 
   F-Throws made per game  17.5  14.2
REBOUNDS  1070  1027
   Rebounds per game  34.5  35.4
   Rebounding margin  +0.5  +4.5 
ASSISTS  421  443 
   Assists per game  13.6  15.3 
TURNOVERS  399  391 
   Turnovers per game  12.9  13.5 
   Turnover margin  -1.3  – 2.7
   Assist/turnover ratio  1.1  1.1 
STEALS  164  145
   Steals per game  5.3  5.0
BLOCKS  72  61 
   Blocks per game  2.3  2.1
ATTENDANCE  30173  21182
   Home games-Avg/Game  13-2321  13-1629 
   Neutral site-Avg/Game  – 

The winner of this first round game will be the team that executes best down the stretch and make the fewest mistakes. Groundbreaking stuff, no? Either way, this is going to be a fun matchup and counting Denver out now would be a huge mistake.

8 thoughts on “Against the odds – Denver to face Jackrabbits in Sioux Falls again”

  1. My take which really builds on yours 5bwest:
    1. Cut down on turnovers- WE have not become a fewer turnover team as season progressed. Sure, we can have a low TO game every now and then. Let’s hope it’s a NOW.
    2. Amigo, stay out of foul trouble. No silly reach ins or trying to beat a speedy guy to a spot. Give offensive player some breathing room. 20/10 and we have good chance to win. Amigo has shown that he’s well conditioned and can play 30 minutes effectively.
    3. Don’t foul these guys. If we are 6 down and 2 minutes left, we need to foul perhaps. SDSU shoots 77% as a team. That is very high. Thus, let’s have a lead going down the stretch.

    Can’t use youth as an excuse. Out starting 5 has probably played in more then 300 games for DU. (just guessing)

    GO DU!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would double Daum and account for Tellinghuisen. Or go to zone, perhaps box-and-1 with the 1 on Daum? Make him uncomfortable as much as possible. He will get his, but the idea is to keep it contained, make him work for his points. What we can’t do is have Amigo guard Daum straight up: so many fouls, so little time. Offensively, as long Amigo is on the floor, no one can stop him on their team. This will open up the perimeter. Bobbitt is a huge key to success Sunday on both ends of court.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is going to be tough, SDSU is the last team I want to see, they really seem to have figured it out. They are my pick to win the tournament, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

    That makes it sound like I don’t think Denver has much of a chance, which of course isn’t the case. kenpom has them as a 1 point favorite and I’m sure the line won’t end up more than a point or two in either direction. It will really come down to Amigo. He has been shut down in both games versus SDSU. The optimistic part of me thinks he is too good of a player to get shut down three times.

    I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s going to be a closer game than the first two, I’m pretty pumped. Is anyone here going to be able to make the trip to Sioux Falls?

    Like

  4. The game may be closer due to familiarity and pressure, but I just don’t think DU is good enough this year to beat a hot SDSU team playing before home fans on a short trip from its own campus.

    These are two teams trending in opposite directions. DU is fading. SDSU is hot.

    Good league opponents have now figured out how to defend DU, and DU’s defense has not been good enough to defend the better league teams over the last month. DU won most of its games on the playing style change surprise factor early, and have become quite predictable without the defensive improvement.

    My feeling is that defensive improvement comes down to three things – quickness/talent, scheme and heart/willpower. DU’s scheme is fine, but the quickness and defensive talent level is below what Billups needs to play that kind of style and the defensive heart/willpower of the unit is inconsistent.

    I hope I am wrong, but I think this team is one and done.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Seems like there is something in the water over in Sioux Falls. #7 IUPUI beats #2 NDSU and #8 Western Illinois takes #1 South Dakota to OT. A great reminder that this thing is wide open. Honestly, I still expect a loss tomorrow, but this tournament is starting to get an interesting feel to it…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Would love to see a win, but not expecting it. This DU team would need a pretty sharp departure from the way its been playing for the last few weeks to pull off an upset against the hottest team in the league. It’s not impossible, but it is unlikely. Go Pios!

    Liked by 1 person

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