Denver Men’s Hoops’ hopes hang by a thread

We’ll have a chance to conduct a full autopsy once this entire basketball season has played out. But for now, the Pioneers have their hands full just qualifying for the Summit League Basketball Tournament in Sioux Falls, SD. The tournament only accepts eight teams and Denver sits in the 9th spot, one game back of Western Illinois who hold the final tournament spot, with four games remaining.

  1. South Dakota State 11-2
  2. Omaha                             10-2
  3. Purdue Fort Wayne  9-4
  4. North Dakota State  8-5
  5. Oral Roberts                 6-8
  6. South Dakota               4-8
  7. North Dakota              4-9
  8. Western Illinois         3-9
  9. Denver                            2-10

DU’s remaining schedule includes South Dakota and North Dakota on the road and home games against Western Illinois and Omaha. Denver’s two wins have come against North Dakota State and Oral Roberts so all three teams above Denver have the head-to-head tie-breaker.

It looks like a two-team ‘race to the bottom’ between Western Illinois and DU by following the tie-breaker criteria employed by the Summit League:

  1. Results of head-to-head competition between the two tied teams.
  2. Comparison of each tied team’s record against the team occupying the highest position in the standings continuing down through the standings until a team gains an advantage.
  3. When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, use each team’s record against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tie-breaking procedure) rather than the performance against individual tied teams.
  4. If a tie still cannot be broken after applying criteria (1), (2) and (3), it will be broken by comparing each tied team’s RPI (based upon the Report issued on the morning following the last regular season League game).

Denver may be able to advance to the 8th spot but it will likely take two wins and possibly three to clear all the tie-breaker criteria. And the fight for the last spot will likely be a battle between Western Illinois and Denver.

This is about the exact opposite of we expected to see to start the season. But missing the tournament would be a major blow to Denver’s five freshmen who could use the playing time and experience for next season.

2 thoughts on “Denver Men’s Hoops’ hopes hang by a thread”

  1. Indeed. Losing two projected upperclass starters (Krafka and Stewart-Miller) to season-ending injuries are likely the biggest reason why the Pioneers continue to struggle. Take 40% of any team’s starting lineup out, and that team is likely going to have a hard time. Of course, there are other reasons, too. Inability to defend the three point shot. Bad starts. Matador defense. Turnovers. Rosga having an average year by his standards. Harrell and Murkey’s good-game, bad game trajectory. Lack of chemistry and wildly fluctuating effort levels. And yes, coaching issues too – a seeming inability to translate to the coaching to execution in games.

    I still cling to the idea that the Pios can still get out of the basement, as they have enough talent to beat most teams in the league if they get off to a solid start, slow down, play defense and shoot 50% or better.

    Can they do that? We’ll see.

    Disappointing season for sure.

    If they do get out of basement and make it to the Summit Tourney, it tells you that they have pride and effort level, which is something to build on. If they crash out and finish last in the league after being picked for third, I think DU needs to look at every aspect of the program for improvements.

  2. I didn’t realize the Summit League tourney only took 8 teams. Potentially more salt in the wound…..

    The numbers speak for themselves–it’s been a disastrous season. 7-20 overall. 2-11 in the conference. 2 wins on the road. Dead last in the country in defending the 3. Close to last in field goal percentage defense. The list goes on. Combine all that with injuries and a lineup that never gelled and here we are.

    Regardless of how the next 3 games play out, I’m sure there will be a lot of soul-searching in the off season among Billups, the other coaches, and the athletic administration.

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