2023 Summit League Basketball Tournament Betting Preview, Bracket & Odds
Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images. Pictured: Max Abmas (Oral Roberts)
The Summit Tournament tips off on Friday and goes through next Tuesday at a neutral site in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Only one team not named “South Dakota State” or “North Dakota State” has represented the league in the NCAA tournament in the past 11 seasons.
That team was 2021 Oral Roberts, one of the best Cinderellas of all-time. Led by Max Abmas, ORU crashed the Sweet 16 as a 15-seed and missed out on an Elite Eight berth by just one possession.
Abmas is back, and his Golden Eagles are the odds-on favorite to make it back to the Big Dance.
The rest of the league is down, with nearly every program underperforming preseason expectations. But as Abmas and Oral Roberts know all too well, anything and everything can happen in March.
2023 Summit League Conference Tournament Bracket
2023 Summit League Conference Tournament Odds
|South Dakota State||+340|
|North Dakota State||+800|
Summit League Performance Change in Last 30 Days
The Heavy Favorite
Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
Oral Roberts is the heavy favorite for good reason. The Golden Eagles ran the table in the Summit, beating every other team twice in true double round robin fashion and finishing the conference season 18-0.
ORU didn’t just “win” the Summit — it dominated the Summit. The Golden Eagles won conference contests by an average of 17 points per game.
While ORU did finish just 7-10-1 against the spread in league play, it covered by an average of four points per game.
This team has everything you want in a conference tournament champion and an NCAA tournament Cinderella: experience, continuity, an All-American caliber lead guard and high-major talent.
Abmas is one of the best players in the country at any level, and former Arkansas/Cal transfer Connor Vanover is a cheat code in the Summit at 7-foot-5 with floor spacing ability.
In Summit play, ORU was the league’s top offense and defense from an efficiency perspective. It would be borderline shocking to see any other team emerge from this bracket.
Both South Dakota State and North Dakota State at least have the program experience of winning multiple Summit League conference tournaments.
And both squads have a considerable amount of talent.
South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Down the stretch, SDSU has looked more like the team many expected it to be in the preseason. The Jackrabbits have covered six of their last eight games and are 10-3 straight up over their last 13.
Injuries have held SDSU back all season, as multiple key players have been in and out of the lineup. With a reliable seven-man rotation, the Jackrabbits are about as healthy as they’ve been all year.
We saw this team’s true potential in the non-conference when it beat Boise State on the road and led at Alabama in the second half.
Don’t count the Bunnies out behind the play of their stellar point guard Zeke Mayo and a supporting cast of knockdown shooters.
SDSU can be had for up to +450 in the market, which might seem like good value considering the Jackrabbits are likely to make the Summit final without too much trouble.
But it’s also hard to ignore NDSU’s 8/1 price tag, especially since we’ve seen the Bison beat the Jackrabbits once already this season. (More on the Bison below).
North Dakota State Bison
NDSU has the Summit’s top NBA prospect in 6-foot-10 unicorn Grant Nelson and owns arguably the league’s top frontcourt.
Like its rival, NDSU has hit its stride as of late, going 5-1 down the stretch. A severe lack of competent guard play though — particularly at the point guard position — will likely prevent the Bison from making a run and capturing the auto-bid.
Buy a Beer Instead: Everyone Else
You’d be better off spending your hard-earned cash on a few cold ones than placing a future on any of the other seven teams in the Summit. They just don’t have the juice.
St. Thomas is the “most likely” of the remaining squads to make a surprise run. The Tommies are extremely well-coached and are one of the country’s best offensive teams.
They don’t make mistakes and they shoot the cover off the ball. However, being on Oral Roberts’ side of the bracket is no bueno for a future bet.
The same reasoning applies to St. Thomas’ first opponent, Western Illinois. The Leathernecks have a bona fide stud leading them in 6-foot-2 do-everything guard Trenton Massner, but they have to go through the Tommies and Oral Roberts to even reach the finals.
If you really want to burn money on a flyer, look for a team in the bottom half of the bracket, one that can avoid Oral Roberts until the championship.
South Dakota is an enticing option at 50/1, mainly because this team should have never been as bad as it performed this season.
From a raw talent perspective, the Coyotes can match just about any team in the league, and the backcourt trio of Kruz Perrott-Hunt, Mason Archambault and A.J. Plitzuweit is as good as it gets in all of mid-majordom.
USD also beat its first-round opponent, NDSU, once this season, though it did fall short twice against SDSU.
However, this team plays zero defense, and it’s extremely hard to simply out-shoot an opponent in the Summit, one of the best shooting conferences in America.
Denver, North Dakota, UMKC and Omaha all have to play an extra game to win the auto-bid, making them no-goes from a futures perspective.
UMKC is incredibly scrappy, but it’s lost seven of its past eight contests.
North Dakota has been excellent as of late, but the Fighting Hawks have a date with Oral Roberts if they make it past Denver in the opening round.
Denver has talent, but it’s down a key player in Tyree Corbett.
Omaha is the worst team in the Summit by a significant margin and one of the least experienced in all of Division I basketball.
2023 Summit League Conference Tournament Wrap Up
Find the best price on Oral Roberts and back the Golden Eagles — anything better than -200 should suffice.
If you want two horses in this race, the Jackrabbits are your best bet.
Stay away from the long shots, as they have no chance in this top-heavy league.
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