Utah State, BYU Have Best Hopes For NCAA Tourney
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – While the Beehive State may very well be shut of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this year, there’s still a chance that a team or two could play beyond the conference tournament in the Big Dance.
As it stands now, the best chance and perhaps only chance that Utah, Utah Valley, Weber State and Southern Utah have at making the Tournament is by making a magical run in their respective conference tournaments and winning the automatic bid by winning the whole thing.
For those schools, that’s pretty much their only chance at this point.
There are, however, two schools in Utah that have a chance at securing an at-large bid for the Tournament, albeit a slim chance at that. Those two schools are Utah State and BYU.
How Utah State Can Make The Big Dance
The Utah State Aggies, who have captured the eye of several national media pundits for their turnaround success this season, probably have the best chance of making it to the Big Dance.
One of the best hires from last spring: Utah State's decision to tab Craig Smith. Has done yeoman's work since arriving in Logan.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 16, 2019
ESPN’s bracketologist Joe Lunardi has the Aggies as the first team out as it stands now.
Utah State currently sits in a tie with Fresno State for second place in the Mountain West Conference standings.
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Vs. New Mexico // $9 Tickets
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➡️ https://t.co/OCuNKWLlSI#AggiesAllTheWay pic.twitter.com/ssJfD6FZGM
— USU Men's Hoops (@USUBasketball) February 17, 2019
Luckily for the Aggies, three of their final five games are in the Spectrum in Logan. Unfortunately, one of those games is against one of the nation’s top five teams in Nevada, who thumped Utah State, 72-49 in Reno on January 5.
That could be a golden opportunity for the Aggies, however. If they managed to do the improbable and pull off a win over the Wolf Pack, that may clinch an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament for Utah State, who hasn’t been in the Big Dance since 2011.
The other route to the tournament would be winning the conference tournament and securing the automatic bid. Either way, the road to the Tournament almost assuredly goes through the Wolf Pack for Utah State.
One of two schools IN THE NATION, to win 11 games in football and 20 in men’s basketball this season!
BIG things happening in Logan! #AggiesAllTheWay pic.twitter.com/lpM8ai75w8
— Utah State Athletics (@USUAthletics) February 16, 2019
BYU’s Road To The Tournament
Like Utah State, BYU most likely must defeat an extremely challenging opponent to go to the NCAA Tournament.
With a record of 18-10 and three games to game, BYU must win two of its remaining games to keep head coach Dave Rose’s streak of 13 20-win seasons alive.
MBB | Congrats to TJ Haws of @BYUbasketball on capturing #WCChoops Player of the Week honors.
🏀 24 ppg, 7.5 assists, 1.5 steals
🏀 Cougars have won 5 straight
READ >> https://t.co/z6HleESydc#BYUhoops | #GoCougs pic.twitter.com/H9MMgdpzml
— WCC Basketball (@WCChoops) February 18, 2019
The Cougars will face San Francisco first, then No. 2-ranked Gonzaga and then finish the season against San Diego.
San Francisco previously defeated BYU by 19 earlier in the year. If the Cougars fall again, they will have to recreate the magic of the 2017 upset over the Zags to have a chance at a 20-win season.
Nothing came easy to @jahshirehardnet.
The junior guard overcame a lifetime of hardships to get to @BYUbasketball. #WCChoops pic.twitter.com/q8680zdGgf
— TheW.tv (@TheWtv) February 18, 2019
If they can pull off the upset in Spokane and get to 20 wins, the next step for BYU is to have a deep run in the West Coast Conference tournament.
To win the tournament, they’d likely have to beat Gonzaga. If they manage to beat the Bulldogs twice and secure a 20-win season, the selection committee will have a hard time keeping the Cougars out.
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