Best NCAA Tournament Games Played In Salt Lake City

Mar 20, 2019, 4:30 PM
Gordon Hayward #20 of the Butler Bulldogs celebrates after hitting a three point shot over Kris Jos...
Gordon Hayward #20 of the Butler Bulldogs celebrates after hitting a three point shot over Kris Joseph #32 of the Syracuse Orange during the west regional semifinal of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Energy Solutions Arena on March 25, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Bulldogs defeated the Orange 63-59. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The state of Utah has seen some great NCAA Tournament games played in the arenas around the state. The first tournament games were played at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah in 1960.

The Fieldhouse hosted the Regional rounds (Sweet 16 and Elite 8) in 1962, 1963 and 1965, while holding the first two rounds in 1970.

The Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan hosted some tournament games as well, they had the first two rounds in 1971, 19733 and 1982.

In Provo, the Marriott Center held Regional rounds in 1972, 1977, 1979 and 1982. Neilsen Fieldhouse hosted the first two rounds in 1968.

The Jon M. Huntsman Center has hosted the most tournament games in the state with the home of the Runnin’ Utes hosting the first two rounds of the Big Dance in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006. They had two years of holding Regional rounds in 1971 and 1981. Finally, they held the Final Four and National Championship game in 1979 that featured Magic Johnson and Michigan State facing Larry Bird and Indiana State.

Vivint Smart Home Arena, the home of the Utah Jazz has been hosting the NCAA Tournament games as of late, starting in 2010 with the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games. They have hosted the first two rounds in 2013, 2017 and this year.

Here are some of the best games that have been played in the NCAA Tournament in the state of Utah.

Vivint Smart Home Arena

2013 – Harvard Upsets New Mexico

No. 14-seed Harvard jumped out to a four point lead in the first half before picking up the 68-62 win over No. 3-seed New Mexico.

They had four players score in double figures, led by Wesley Saunders with 18 points and Laurent Rivard chipped in 17 points.

The Lobos were led by Alex Kirk with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Cameron Bairstow poured in 15 points.

Harvard lost to No. 6-seed Arizona in the second round in Salt Lake City.


2013 – Wichita State Takes Down Gonzaga

The second round matchup between the No. 1-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs and the No. 9-seed Wichita State Shockers gave Salt Lake City an exciting game.

The Shockers knocked off Pittsburgh by 18 points in the first round and they were able to leave Vivint Smart Home Arena as the winner.

Ron Baker hit a three-pointer to give the Shockers a four point lead with 2 minutes left before Olynyk cut the lead to two points. Fred VanVleet hit a big contested three-pointer to put the lead to five points for WSU.

They beat Gonzaga 76-70, led by Baker and Cleanthony Early with 16 points apiece. VanVleet added 13 points off the bench. Those three players have had stints in the NBA.

Olynyk poured in 26 points for the Zags, while Kevin Pangos dropped 19 points.

Wichita State went to the Final Four and lost to No. 1-seed Louisville by four points, the Cardinals won the National Championship.


2017 – Northwestern Beats Vanderbilt In First NCAA Tournament Game

No. 8 Northwestern fans painted Salt Lake City purple when the Wildcats reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

They faced No. 9 Vanderbilt at Vivint Smart Home Arena. It was a close game throughout. Northwestern had a one point lead in the final minute before Vanderbilt took the lead back, but the Wildcats prevailed. The atmosphere in the arena was what made the game memorable.

Bryant McIntosh led Northwestern with 25 points. Scottie Lindsey and Derek Pardon scored 14 points apiece.

Vanderbilt was led by Matthew Fisher-Davis with 22 points, while Luke Kornet chipped in 14.

The Wildcats faced No. 1 Gonzaga in the second round.


Gonzaga Stops Northwestern Comeback

Northwestern was hoping to keep the magic alive in Salt Lake City against top seed Gonzaga in the second round.

Gonzaga had a 22-point lead late in the first half, but Northwestern stormed back and trimmed the lead to five in the final seconds. The Bulldogs advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and ultimately reached the National Championship game before losing to North Carolina by six points.

The Wildcats had McIntosh lead the way with 20 points and 7 assists, while Vic Law contributed 18 points and 8 rebounds.

Nigel Williams-Goss scored 20 points to go with his 8 rebounds, Jordan Matthews and Zach Collins each scored 14 points.


2010 – Butler Keeps Dancing To Elite 8

The No. 5-seed Butler Bulldogs came to Salt Lake City after picking up two wins in San Jose over UTEP and Murray State in the first two rounds.

A team that no one saw coming and having the run that they did, it started against No. 1-seed Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen in Salt Lake City.

The Orangemen had a four point lead with 4 minutes left when Ronald Nored hit a massive three-pointer from deep. Butler then took the lead on the following possession. Willie Veasley hit a corner three-pointer that hit every part of the rim before going in to give the Bulldogs a four-point lead with less than two minutes left.

Butler went on to win 63-59 to pick up the upset. Future Jazzman Gordon Hayward led the team with 17 points and Shelvin Mack added 14 points. The Bulldogs went on to face Duke in the National Championship game and lost by two points after Hayward barely missed the half-court shot.

Wes Johnson scored 17 points, while Andy Rautins chipped in 15 points for Syracuse.


2010 – Kansas State Beats Xavier In Double OT Thriller

The wildly entertaining game between No. 2 Kansas State and No. 6 Xavier went into double overtime, with the winner facing Butler in the Elite Eight.

Down by one point with 50 seconds left, Xavier missed one of two free throws to tie the game. Jacob Pullen hit a big three-pointer with 30 seconds left to lead by three. The Wildcats made their free throws down the stretch to win the game 101-96.

Kansas State lost to Butler in the Elite Eight two nights later.

Pullen finished with 28 points, Denis Clemente poured in 25 and Curtis Kelly scored 21 points to lead Kansas State.

Jordan Crawford exploded for 32 points, while Tu Holloway added 26 points for Xavier.


2010 – Butler Stuns Kansas State, Heading To Final Four

The Bulldogs were tied with three minutes remaining when they went on a 6-0 run to hold a 60-54 lead with 53 seconds left. Butler sealed the win and advanced to the Final Four.

Gordon Hayward dropped 22 points and 9 rebounds for Butler and Shelvin Mack contributed 16 points and 7 boards.

Denis Clemente led KSU with 18 points, while Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly scored 14 points apiece.


Jon M. Huntsman Center

1993 – Santa Clara Upsets Arizona

It was one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history with No. 15-seed Santa Clara knocking off the powerhouse Arizona Wildcats 64-61, who were the No. 2-seed in 1993.

Pete Eisenrich scored 19 points for the Broncos, Steve Nash had 10 points off the bench to go with his 7 rebounds and 4 assists.

Chris Mills led the Wildcats with 19 points, Ed Stokes scored 12 points and pulled down 8 rebounds.


2003 – Arizona, Gonzaga Play Two Overtimes

It was a double overtime thriller at the Huntsman Center with No. 1 Arizona and No. 9 Gonzaga.

The Wildcats turned the ball over late in the first overtime with the game tied at 87. With 16 seconds left, Gonzaga scored the go-ahead bucket before Walton scored in the paint to tie the game and send it to double overtime.

With less than two minutes left in the second overtime, the Wildcats had a one point lead and that was the final score, 96-95.

Arizona reached the Elite Eight when they lost to No. 2 Kansas.

Channing Frye and Jason Gardner led the Wildcats with 22 points apiece, Rick Anderson chipped in 17 and Luke Walton finished with 16 points.

Tony Skinner and Blake Stepp each scored 25 points for Gonzaga.


1979 – Indiana State Sneaks Past DePaul In Final Four

No. 2 DePaul was down by one with 30 seconds left but couldn’t hit the game-winning shot with 5 seconds left, sending Larry Bird and No. 1 Indiana State to the National Championship game with a 76-74 win.

Bird scored 35 points to lead Indiana State, while Alex Gilbert was the second-leading scorer with 12 points.

Mark Aguirre and Gary Garland each scored 19 points for DePaul.


Michigan State Knocks Off Indiana State For National Title

It is still one of the best matchups in NCAA Tournament history as two college legends and future NBA Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off at the Huntsman Center for the National Championship.

The No. 2-seed Spartans had a 37-28 lead at halftime, but No. 1-seed Indiana State’s comeback fell short and they lost 75-64.

Magic Johnson had 24 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists for MSU. Larry Bird had just 19 points on 7-of-21 shooting from the field.


Dee Events Center

1994 – Green Bay Takes Down California

Future NBA star Jason Kidd and the No. 5-seed California Golden Bears went to the Dee Events Center in Ogden and fell to No. 12-seed Green Bay 61-57.

Kidd had 12 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals for the Golden Bears. Lamond Murray led the team with 18 points.

Jeff Nordgaard had 24 points and 9 rebounds for Green Bay.


1983 – Thurl Bailey Plays NCAA Game In Ogden

No. 6-seed North Carolina State’s magical run to a National Championship continued when they beat No. 1-seed Virginia in the Elite Eight 63-62.

Future Jazzman Thurl Bailey played in that game and scored 14 points. Dereck Whittenburg had 24 points for the Wolf Pack.

Ralph Sampson led the Cavaliers with 23 points as the only player to score in double figures.


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Best NCAA Tournament Games Played In Salt Lake City