Big Final Week Of Regular Season For Local Teams; BYU To Play In WCC Quarterfinals
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Just one week remains for the local teams in their regular season with the exception of BYU, who will play their West Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinal game on Saturday.
After their weekend sweep, the Utah State Aggies may have locked in an at large bid for the NCAA Tournament and are currently in first place in the Mountain West Conference.
Utah Valley won both of their road games over the weekend and have moved up to second place in the WAC.
The Utes lost their lone game of the week to Colorado, but are still fighting for a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament as they currently sit in fifth place tied for fourth and third place in the standings.
It was a decent week for the state of Utah in college hoops with the local teams going 5-3.
Weber State remains in third place in the Big Sky Conference.
Southern Utah is still in sixth place after their only loss last week.
ESPN puts out a Basketball Power Index, also known as BPI, which measures a team’s strength going forward. The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has a metric called “Strength of Record” that reflects the chance a typical 25th ranked team would have team’s record or better, given the schedule on a 0 to 100 scale, where 100 is the best.
Four of the six in-state schools improved their BPI rating and strength of record from the previous week.
Here’s the eighth edition of the KSL Sports in-state college basketball power rankings from games played Monday, February 25 to Sunday, March 3:
1. Utah State Aggies (24-6, 14-3 MWC)
ESPN BPI Rating: 8.9, No. 46 (Up 3 Spots)
Wins: vs. San Diego State (4.0 BPI, No. 105), vs. No. 12 Nevada (13.5 BPI, No. 18)
Strength of Record: 41 (Up 4 Spots)
Recap: The Aggies had one of the best weeks in program history with a pair of wins at home against top four teams in the conference. They started the week with a 70-54 win over San Diego State. Utah State started the game by outscoring the Aztecs 31-21 in the first half and finished them off with a 39-33 second half. Sam Merrill led the way with 18 points and 5 rebounds, Quinn Taylor poured in 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Diogo Brito chipped in 12 points off the bench.
Utah State played in front of a sold-out Spectrum for the first time in four years when they faced No. 12 Nevada. They pulled off the upset with an 81-76 win. They outscored the Wolf Pack 37-33 in the first half and 44-43 in the second half. Merrill dropped 29 points in 40 minutes, scoring 17 points in the first half. Diogo Brito added 15 points and 8 rebounds off the bench, while Neemias Queta chipped in 13 points and 11 rebounds.
With a win on Tuesday, the Aggies will clinch a share of the regular season title in the Mountain West Conference. Nevada will need to lose one more game with a USU win for the Aggies to win the regular season outright.
Previous Ranking: 1
Next Up: at Colorado State (12-17, 7-9 MWC), Tuesday at 7 p.m. on AT&T SportsNet.
2. BYU Cougars (19-12, 11-5 WCC)
ESPN BPI Rating: 5.2, No. 85 (Up 5 Spots)
Wins: vs. San Diego (4.5 BPI, No. 100)
Strength of Record: 81 (Up 2 Spots)
Recap: BYU had a 41-32 lead after the first half of play and took care of business on senior night at the Marriott Center. Yoeli Childs exploded with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks. T.J. Haws poured in 26 points and 5 boards, while Nick Emery added 15 points.
The Cougars are the No. 3-seed in the WCC Tournament.
Previous Ranking: 2
Next Up: Quarterfinal Round of the West Coast Conference Tournament against either No. 10 Portland (7-24, 0-16 WCC), No. 7 San Diego (18-13, 7-9 WCC), or No. 6 Santa Clara (16-14, 8-8 WCC), Saturday at 10 p.m. on ESPN2 and KSL Newsradio.
3. Utah Valley Wolverines (21-8, 10-4 WAC)
ESPN BPI Rating: 2.4, No. 131 (Up 2 Spots)
Wins: at Seattle (-2.2 BPI, No. 206), at California Baptist (-3.0 BPI, No. 222)
Strength of Record: 82 (Up 6 Spots)
Recap: Against Seattle, Utah Valley controlled most of the game as they picked up a 77-68 win. The Wolverines outscored the Redhawks 32-27 in the first half and 45-41 in the second half. Jake Toolson led the Wolverines with 25 points, Richard Harward poured in 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, while Conner Toolson chipped in 11 points.
It was a close game for most of the contest against California Baptist. Harward made two free throws with 1:35 left to take the lead and eventually the 64-63 win. Baylee Steele had 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead UVU, Conner Toolson added 13 points and 8 rebounds.
Previous Ranking: 4
Next Up: vs. Grand Canyon (18-10, 10-4 WAC), Thursday at 7 p.m. They will host CSU Bakersfield (16-12, 7-7 WAC), Saturday at 7 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on the KSL TV app.
4. Utah Utes (15-13, 9-7 Pac-12)
ESPN BPI Rating: 2.3, No. 133 (Down 5 Spots)
Losses: at Colorado (4.8 BPI, No. 92)
Strength of Record: 100 (Up 3 Spots)
Recap: The Utes struggled shooting the ball in their 71-63 loss to the Colorado Buffaloes. They shot a season-low 19 percent from downtown on 5-of-26 attempts. Sedrick Barfield led the Utes with 19 points, Donnie Tillman chipped in 14 points and Both Gach added 12 points.
Previous Ranking: 3
Next Up: vs. USC (15-14, 8-8 Pac-12), Thursday at 8 p.m. on FS1. They will host UCLA (16-13, 9-7 Pac-12), Saturday at 5 p.m. on Pac-12 Network. It’s their last two games of the regular season.
5. Weber State Wildcats (16-12, 10-7 Big Sky)
ESPN BPI Rating: -0.8, No. 180 (Down 11 Spots)
Losses: at Northern Colorado (1.6 BPI, No. 145)
Strength of Record: 191 (Down 3 Spots)
Recap: It wasn’t the Wildcat’s night in their 85-61 loss to Northern Colorado. The Wildcats were outscored 40-29 in the first half and 45-32 in the second half. Jerrick Harding scored 15 points to lead Weber State. Israel Barnes and Zach Braxton each scored 11 points. The Wildcats have lost two straight and three of their last four.
Previous Ranking: 5
Next Up: at Idaho State (9-17, 5-12 Big Sky), Monday at 7 p.m. on Pluto TV channel 243. They will host Idaho (5-24, 2-16 Big Sky), Thursday at 7 p.m. and Eastern Washington (12-17, 10-8 Big Sky), Saturday at 7 p.m. on Pluto TV channel 235.
6. Southern Utah Thunderbirds (14-13, 9-9 Big Sky)
ESPN BPI Ranking: -5.8, No. 273 (Up 1 Spot)
Losses: at Montana (3.2 BPI, No. 119)
Strength of Record: 223 (Down 1 Spot)
Recap: The Thunderbirds had a tall task in Montana, but couldn’t pull off the upset as they lost 70-54. SUU had a great first half as they trailed 29-28 at halftime, but the Grizzlies outscored the Thunderbirds 41-26 in the second half. Cameron Oluyitan was the only Southern Utah player to reach double figures with 10 points.
Previous Ranking: 6
Next Up: at Montana State (13-14, 10-7 Big Sky), Monday at 7 p.m. on Pluto TV. They will host Northern Colorado (20-9, 14-4 Big Sky), Thursday at 6:30 p.m. on Pluto TV channel 236.