UTAH STATE AGGIES

Aggies Look To Change Their NCAA Tournament History In 2019

Mar 17, 2019, 8:55 PM | Updated: 8:56 pm
Utah State - Sam Merrill - Justin Bean...
Utah State guard Sam Merrill, left, celebrates USU's victory over Nevada with teammate Justin Bean on March 2 at the Spectrum in Logan. Courtesy of Deseret News.

LOGAN, Utah – The Utah State Aggies learned their NCAA Tournament draw on Selection Sunday. They’ll be playing the Washington Huskies Friday in Columbus, Ohio.

Utah State head coach Craig Smith said to KSL Sports that he was excited about the matchup and that his players are “fired up.”

It’s the first appearance in the Big Dance since 2011 for Utah State. The Aggie’s 8-seed in the tournament is the best seed the program has ever had in the tournament.

Early Years

The Aggies have been to the NCAA Tournament 22 times. Early on, the program experienced some measure of big success.

They made the tournament for the first time in 1939 and took third place in their region after losing in the first round to Oklahoma and beating Texas for third place in the region.

After a 23-year dry spell, the Aggies made it back to the tournament in 1962 and won their opening round game over Arizona State. Playing in a much smaller field back then, they met UCLA in the Sweet 16 and fell to the Bruins 73-62.

The appearance in 1962 was the first of a three-year stretch in the tournament for Utah State. Weirdly, the Aggies played Arizona State in the first round each year. They fell to the Sun Devils in ’63 and then beat them by a slim two-point margin in ‘64.

Following a brief hiatus, the Aggies returned to the Big Dance in 1970, where they put together the best tournament outing in program history. They defeated UTEP in the first round, then Santa Clara in the second round of 16 before falling to UCLA in the Elite Eight. The Bruins would go on to win the national championship that year.

Just One Win In The New Century

From there, it wasn’t until 2001 that Utah State won another NCAA Tournament game. The Aggies made the tournament nine times from 1970 to 2001 but were eliminated in the first round each time. They had close calls and near wins over Clemson in 1980 and Vanderbilt in 1988, but were unable to get a win until the turn of the century.

In the 2001 edition of the tournament, the 12-seed Aggies drew the fifth-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes and knocked them out of the tournament with a 77-68 overtime victory. In the upset, the Aggies were led by Bernard Rock, who played nearly every minute of the game and led the way with 18 points.

The Aggies didn’t have much time to celebrate their win however, as they were soundly beaten by UCLA, again, in the second round of the tournament.

From there, the Aggies have be occasional visitors to the Big Dance with minimal results. Since 2003, Utah State has been to the tournament six times and has come up winless in each appearance. They nearly knocked off No. 2-seeded Kansas as a 15-seed in 2003, lost to Marquette by just one point in 2009 and fell by just five points to Kansas State in 2011, but have not been able to pull off a win.

Hello Again, Huskies

The matchup against Washington on Friday is not the first time that the two programs have met in the tournament. The Aggies and Huskies met in 2006, but Washington, led by future NBA lottery pick Brandon Roy, soundly defeated Utah State 75-61.

Next Up

The Aggies’ 2019 run towards the biggest stage in sports in set to tip off Friday at 4:50 p.m. on TNT from Columbus, Ohio.

 

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