In a not so surprising announcement, the South Dakota State men and women's basketball teams have been picked as favorites to win the Summit League title for the 2015-2016 season.

The poll was conducted by a group consisting of coaches, sports information directors and select media.  The poll was released on Wednesday.

This was the fourth consecutive year that the Lady Jackrabbits were pegged as preseason  #1 in the league.

This year however as was the case last year, a lot of buzz and rightfully so around SDSU's neighbors to the south at the University of South Dakota as the Lady Jackrabbits edged out the Lady Coyotes by a mere 6 votes for the top spot.

I wouldn't be surprised if both of these two schools met once again in the Summit League Tournament Championship at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in March.

As for the men, the Jackrabbits received 30 of the 34 first place votes in what some have referred to as a down year talent wise in the mens ranks in the Summit League.

Whether those predictions on the talent level within the conference hold true or not, the league is always high energy, high intensity and quality basketball.  The 2015-2016 likely will be the same with drama once again at the Denny come March as well.

My preseason predictions would be uneducated as I am not into basketball mode yet, as football season is in full swing, but I will tell you there is nothing like the Summit League Conference Tournament in Sioux Falls, SD and I can't wait for another regular season to play out and get us to another great culmination to the Summit League season.

Here is the release from the Summit League for the Men

ELMHURST, Ill. – South Dakota State, last season’s regular season co-champion, is the preseason favorite to win the 2015-16 Summit League Men’s Basketball Championship according to the annual preseason poll of league coaches, SIDs and media. The Jackrabbits garnered 30-of-34 first-place votes to finish ahead of 2014-15 regular season co-champion and tournament champion North Dakota State.

Oral Roberts senior guard Obi Emegano was tabbed as The Summit League’s Preseason Player of the Year and leads all returnees in scoring after averaging 18.3 points per game last season.

SDSU returns four starters, including Summit League Newcomer of the Year Deondre Parks (14.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg), off a team that recorded The Summit League’s first NIT victory in 25 years. Tabbed second, the Bison ended last season in the NCAA Tournament and reigning Summit League Coach of the Year David Richman returns four starters, led by Sixth Man of the Year Dexter Werner (8.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg).

Oral Roberts, which received a first-place vote, finished third in the preseason poll. The Golden Eagles advanced to the second round of the College Basketball Invitational last season before being eliminated by the eventual tournament champion.

The Jackrabbits and Bison each had a league-high three players named to the preseason all-league teams. Along with Parks, SDSU guards Jake Bittle (10.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and George Marshall (13.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg) were named to The Summit League first team. NDSU’s A.J. Jacobson (11.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg), was a first-team honoree while teammates Kory Brown (8.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Werner were second team selections.

Western Illinois’ Garret Covington (15.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg) rounded out the first team. Fort Wayne’s duo of Mo Evans (10.2 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Max Landis (9.3 ppg) along with IUPUI’s Marcellus Barksdale (9.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg) received second team nods.

Additional preseason notes about Summit League Men’s Basketball …

· The preseason favorite has won at least a share of the regular season title in 11 of the last 16 years

· South Dakota State has won the regular season or tournament title in three of the past four seasons

· Two of the five shared Summit League regular season titles have come in the past three years

· Omaha is eligible for The Summit League Tournament for the first time after concluding its NCAA Division I transition period

· Four former Summit League Award winners are on the preseason all-league teams: Garrett Covington (2014 Newcomer of the Year), Mo Evans (2014 Sixth Man of the Year), Deondre Parks (2015 Newcomer of the Year), and Dexter Werner (2015 Sixth Man of the Year)

· The preseason all-league team features a pair of first-team honorees (A.J. Jacobson and Deondre Parks) and two second-team selections (Garret Covington and George Marshall) from 2014-15

· Garret Covington is the only multiple-season honoree on the preseason team, having earned second team all-league selections in both 2013-14 and 2014-15

· The Summit League has finished among the top-20 conference RPI each of the past four seasons

· A league-record four teams represented The Summit League in the postseason each of the past two years

· The 2015 Summit League Basketball Championship smashed previous attendance records by over 30 percent

· The Summit League’s annual Media Day is Oct. 21

· Regular season play commences Nov. 13 and the 16-game double round-robin league schedule begins Dec. 30

· The 2016 Summit League Men’s Basketball Championship is March 5-8 at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Here is the release from the Summit League for the Women

ELMHURST, Ill. – South Dakota State, the reigning tournament champion, was selected as the preseason favorite to capture the 2015-16 Summit League Women’s Basketball Championship in a preseason poll of league coaches, SIDs and select media. The Jackrabbits edged out South Dakota by a mere six points and collected 17 first-place votes in the closest preseason poll race since 2004-05.

South Dakota senior guard Nicole Seekamp was tabbed as the league’s Preseason Player of the Year after averaging a league-high 5.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game last season, along with 15.6 points per game.

The Jackrabbits welcome back eight letterwinners, including three starters, from last season’s NCAA Tournament team. SDSU is led by sophomore point guard Macy Miller (13.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg), a second team all-league and an all-tournament team selection a year ago.

The Coyotes, a 2015 WNIT second round participant, also bring back three starters from last season’s Summit League regular season championship squad along with reigning Coach of the Year, Amy Williams. USD received 15 first-place votes.

IUPUI was tabbed in third and welcome back a league-best four starters, while Oral Roberts received one first-place vote and was selected fourth.

The Jackrabbits and Coyotes each had a league-high three student-athletes on the preseason all-league teams. SDSU placed Miller and junior guard/forward Kerri Young (9.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg) on the first team, while sophomore forward Ellie Thompson (6.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg) was named to the second team. USD’s Seekamp earned first team distinction with senior guard Tia Hemiller (8.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and senior center Margaret McCloud (9.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg) being on the second team.

Denver senior guard Paige Bradley (12.7 ppg, 4.4 apg), Omaha junior forward Mikaela Shaw (15.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and IUPUI senior forward Akilah Sims (11.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) rounded out the first team. Along with Hemiller, McCloud and Thompson, the second team consisted of North Dakota State senior forward Holly Johnson (12.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Western Illinois senior guard Michelle Maher (9.2 ppg, 4.1 apg).

Additional preseason notes about Summit League Women’s Basketball…

· South Dakota State is favored to win the title for the fourth consecutive season and sixth time in the last eight years.

· Since 1996-97, the preseason favorite has won either the regular season or tournament title in all but four years and has won both just three times.

· The Preseason Player of the Year has gone on to capture Player of the Year honors nine times in league history, including four of the last five years.

· Seekamp is the only multiple-season honoree on the preseason team, having earned first team selections each of the last two years and is the lone first team returnee.

· Seekamp is one of only three players in league history to win Tournament MVP honors twice in their career.

· SDSU has won either the regular season or tournament title each year since joining the league in 2007-08.

· Two Summit League teams (USD, SDSU) finished the season ranked in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25 Poll for the first time in history.

· Summit League teams were represented in all three national postseason tournaments (NCAA, WNIT, WBI) for the third-straight year.

· League teams have an 8-7 (.533) combined national postseason tournament record with a pair of semifinal appearances the last two seasons.

· Omaha is eligible for The Summit League Tournament for the first time after completing its NCAA Division I transition period.

· The Summit League’s annual Media Day takes place Oct. 21.

· The 2016 Summit League Women’s Basketball Championship is March 5-8 at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.

ABOUT SUMMIT LEAGUE MEN'S BASKETBALL
In its fourth decade of Division I athletics, The Summit League features men's basketball teams from nine member institutions: Denver, Fort Wayne, IUPUI, North Dakota State, Omaha, Oral Roberts, South Dakota, South Dakota State and Western Illinois. In 2014-15, The Summit League completed its fourth straight season with both a top-20 league RPI finish and a league-record four teams in national postseason tournaments. Called “March’s Best-Kept Secret” by USA Today, The Summit League Basketball Championships further established itself as one of the nation’s top tournaments by smashing league attendance figures in five-of-six categories, including total attendance by an astounding 33 percent, at the new Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. This season’s tournament returns to the venue March 5-8, 2016. For more information about the league and to "See The Summit", visit www.thesummitleague.org, follow Summit League Basketball on Twitter @summithoops and watch the weekly “Inside The Summit League” show at www.thesummitleague.org/itsl.
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