In-State Schools Looking To Make Splash In Their Conference Tournaments

Mar 11, 2019, 1:19 PM

(Utah State Athletics)...

(Utah State Athletics)

(Utah State Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s conference tournament week for all in-state schools with the exception of BYU. The Utah State Aggies clinched a share of the Mountain West regular season title and are the No. 2-seed in the conference tournament.

After their disappointing blowout loss to San Diego in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament, the BYU Cougars will now wait until Sunday to find out if they will be playing in a postseason tournament.

Utah Valley clinched the No. 2-seed in the WAC tournament after winning both of their games over the weekend.

The Utes ended their regular season with a home sweep of the Southern California schools and will get a first round bye after clinching a No. 3-seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.

It was a decent week for the state of Utah in college hoops with the local teams going 6-5.

Weber State lost two of their last three games of the regular season and will be the No. 4-seed in the Big Sky Tournament.

Southern Utah is the No. 7-seed after losing both of their games 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.

Just two of the six in-state schools improved their BPI rating, while three teams improved their strength of record.

Here’s the ninth edition of the KSL Sports in-state college basketball power rankings from games played Monday, March 4 to Sunday, March 10:

1. Utah State Aggies (25-6, 15-3 MWC)
ESPN BPI Rating: 8.7, No. 51 (Down 5 Spots)

Wins: at Colorado State (-1.5 BPI, No. 195)

Strength of Record: 41

Recap: The Aggies were down by two with 59 seconds left, Sam Merrill nailed two free throws to tie the game and sent it to overtime. Utah State outscored the Rams 14-10 in the extra period to pick up the 100-96 win and a share of the Mountain West regular season championship.

Merrill had a career-high 38 points and 8 rebounds as he played every minute of the game. He did not sit on the bench in the last four games, two of which went to overtime. Quinn Taylor poured in 18 points, while Neemias Queta chipped in 12 points and 8 rebounds. The Aggies are the No. 2-seed in the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

Previous Ranking: 1

Next Up: The winner of No. 7 New Mexico (13-17, 7-11 MWC) or No. 10 Wyoming (8-23, 4-14 MW), Thursday at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.


2. BYU Cougars (19-13, 11-5 WCC)
ESPN BPI Rating: 4.8, No. 95 (Down 10 Spots)

Losses: vs. San Diego (5.3 BPI, No. 84) in quarterfinals of WCC Tournament.

Strength of Record: 84 (Down 3 Spots)

Recap: BYU had one of the worst games in recent history in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament. The Cougars had a week off while San Diego was playing their third game in three days. USD jumped out to a commanding 46-19 lead at halftime, which was the difference in the game as San Diego picked up the 80-57 upset win.

BYU shot just 31 percent from the field and just 1-of-17 from downtown. Yoeli Childs had 14 points and 6 rebounds to lead the Cougars.

Previous Ranking: 2

Next Up: BYU will find out on Sunday if they will be playing in a postseason tournament.


3. Utah Utes (17-13, 11-7 Pac-12)
ESPN BPI Rating: 2.8, No. 125 (Up 8 Spots)

Wins: vs. USC (4.9 BPI, No. 92), vs. UCLA (3.9 BPI, No. 106)

Strength of Record: 97 (Up 3 Spots)

Recap: USC had a 2-0 lead to start the game and that was the last time they would have a lead in the game. The Utes knocked off the Trojans 83-74. Parker Van Dyke led the way with 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting from downtown. Timmy Allen added 19 points, Sedrick Barefield chipped in 17.

Utah pounced on UCLA in the first half as they had a 51-31 halftime lead. The Bruins trimmed the lead in the second half, but Utah prevailed with a 92-81 win. Sedrick Barefield exploded for 29 points in his last game at the Huntsman Center. Timmy Allen had 17 points, while Donnie Tillman scored 12 points.

The Utes clinched the No. 3-seed in the Pac-12 Tournament and will have a bye in the first round.

Previous Ranking: 3

Next Up: The winner of No. 6 Oregon (19-12, 10-8 Pac-12) or No. 11 Washington State (11-20, 4-14 Pac-12), Thursday at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.


4. Utah Valley Wolverines (23-8, 12-4 WAC)
ESPN BPI Rating: 2.9, No. 123 (Up 8 Spots)

Wins: vs. Grand Canyon (4.2 BPI, No. 98), vs. CSU Bakersfield (-3.8 BPI, No. 238)

Strength of Record: 82

Recap: Grand Canyon stayed close to Utah Valley throughout the game, but the Wolverines pulled away late to pick up an 82-70 win. Jake Toolson led the team with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Conner Toolson chipped in 18 points, while Richard Harward added 14 points and 8 boards off the bench.

It was a close game in the first half against CSU Bakersfield, before the Wolverines outscored the Roadrunners 44-34 in the second half, on their way to a 76-61 victory. Conner Toolson recorded 22 points, Jake Toolson poured in 13 points and 7 rebounds and Ben Nakwaasah had 11 points.

Utah Valley will be the No. 2-seed in the WAC Tournament.

Previous Ranking: 4

Next Up: No. 7 UMKC (11-20, 6-10 WAC), Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.


5. Weber State Wildcats (17-14, 11-9 Big Sky)
ESPN BPI Rating: -1.0, No. 184 (Down 4 Spots)

Wins: vs. Idaho (-14.8 BPI, No. 347)

Losses: at Idaho State (-8.7 BPI, No. 313), vs. Eastern Washington (-4.4 BPI, No. 246)

Strength of Record: 215 (Down 24 Spots)

Recap: The Wildcats had three games in their last week of the regular season and the first game wasn’t a great start. They trailed by 9 points with 8 minutes left in the game, but couldn’t pick up the road win, falling to Idaho State 78-74. Jerrick Harding led WSU with 18 points, Brekkott Chapman and Cody John scored 16 points apiece.

Weber State bounced back with a 93-59 win over Idaho, by outscoring the Vandals 49-23 in the first half. Harding poured in 22 points, with Cody John adding 20 points.

In their regular season finale, the Wildcats lost to Eastern Washington 80-77 in disappointing fashion. Harding and John combined for 48 points as they scored 24 points apiece. Weber State finished their season, losing four of their last five games.

The Wildcats are the No. 4-seed in the Big Sky Tournament.

Previous Ranking: 5

Next Up: vs. No. 5 Portland State (16-15, 11-9 Big Sky), Thursday at 2:30 p.m. on Pluto TV.

6. Southern Utah Thunderbirds (14-15, 9-11 Big Sky)
ESPN BPI Ranking: -6.4, No. 279 (Down 6 Spots)

Losses: vs. Montana State (-4.8 BPI, No. 253), vs. Northern Colorado (1.3 BPI, No. 150)

Strength of Record: 246 (Down 23 Spots)

Recap: The Thunderbirds had a strong first half against Montana State by outscoring the Bobcats 40-33. The second half was a different story as they were outscored 57-43 to lose 90-83. Cameron Oluyitan had 22 points to lead SUU, Jacob Calloway chipped in 17 points and 14 rebounds.

In their 70-53 loss to Northern Colorado, the game wasn’t really close. UNC outscored the Thunderbirds 43-23 in the first half. Harrison Butler scored 12 points to lead Southern Utah, Dre Marin added 11 points and Oluyitan contributed 10 points. SUU finished their regular season, losing their last three games.

Southern Utah is the No. 7-seed in the Big Sky Tournament.

Previous Ranking: 6

Next Up: vs. No. 10 Idaho State (11-18, 7-13 Big Sky), Wednesday at approximately 12 p.m. on Pluto TV.

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In-State Schools Looking To Make Splash In Their Conference Tournaments