UTAH STATE AGGIES

Utah State Faces Cinderella Wyoming In MWC Semifinals

Mar 6, 2020, 4:23 AM
Utah State Aggies head coach Craig Smith calls out during a Mountain West Conference Tournament qua...
Utah State Aggies head coach Craig Smith calls out during a Mountain West Conference Tournament quarterfinal game against the New Mexico Lobos at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Thursday, March 14, 2019. (Spencer Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spencer Heaps, Deseret News)

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Utah State (24-8) continues its defense of their Mountain West Conference Tournament title against a team no one was expecting them to face in the tournament. The Aggies will face Cinderella of this year’s MWC Tournament, the 11-seed Wyoming Cowboys (9-23).

Wyoming defeated Border War rival Colorado State in the Opening Round to become the first 11-seed to ever win a game in the MWC Tournament. Then in the Quarterfinals shocked everyone again taking down 3-seed Nevada who was seeking their 20th victory of the season.

Now Utah State will look to be the team that forces Wyoming’s Cinderella ride to strike midnight. In the two regular-season meetings, the Aggies rolled through the Pokes by a total of 43 points. But this is March and as we’ve seen, anything is possible. Wyoming had a 1.8 percent chance of making the Semifinals of the MWC Tournament according to Ken Pomeroy.

Utah State Facing Wyoming isn’t good for the Aggies NCAA Resume

On the surface, Utah State facing Wyoming instead of Nevada in the MWC Semifinals might appear to be a good thing as it could potentially be an easier path to Saturday afternoon’s Championship Game. This is probably true as the Aggies have a 91 percent win probability according to KenPom against the Pokes.

The downside is that Wyoming is a Quadrant Four team in the NET Rankings. As of Thursday, Wyoming checked in at No. 277 in the NET. With Utah State looking to secure at a minimum an At-Large NCAA Tournament bid, taking on Wyoming regardless of the outcome will likely hurt the Aggies resume and puts a greater emphasis on getting to Championship Saturday and finding a way to secure the automatic bid.

Had Nevada got by Wyoming, the Wolf Pack would have been a Quadrant Two opponent that could have given the Aggies another quality victory on their resume.

Right now, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Aggies as the “First Team Out” of the 68-team field.

Wyoming player with Cache Valley ties

One of Wyoming’s top players during their Cinderella run in the Mountain West Tournament is Smithfield, Utah native Jake Hendricks. Hendricks is very familiar with Utah State and a lot of the guys on the Aggies roster.

“I know a lot of the guys, so it’s going to be fun, it’s going to mean a lot. We just got to come out and work hard and follow the game plan and just see what happens,” said Hendricks.

Trends To Watch

Utah State comes into Friday’s Semifinal as the 13th best rebounding team in America according to KenPom. On the other side, Wyoming is the worst on Pomeroy’s metrics. Watch for Utah State’s Justin Bean and Neemias Queta to be all over the glass against Wyoming’s frontcourt that has only one player taller than 6-8 (Hunter Thompson, 6-10).

The Aggies are 9-0 this season when shooting at least 50 percent from the field. Last night against New Mexico, Utah State was 50.9 percent shooting the rock. In the first meeting against the Pokes in Laramie, Utah State hovered around 49 percent in the blowout win.

Friday night’s Semifinal matchup will mark the 22nd conference tournament for Utah State as a No. 2 seed. The Aggies are 17-4 all-time as a two-seed and are 6-1 in Semifinals as the top team in the bottom half of the bracket.

No. 2 Utah State vs. No. 11 Wyoming

Tip: 9:30 p.m. (MT)

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: 1280 AM

Follow KSL Sports coverage from the Mountain West Conference Tournament on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

  • Utah State Aggies Scoreboard

  • Utah State Aggies Team Leaders

  • Utah State Aggies Standings

Utah State Aggies

Jordan Love - Green Bay Packers...
Brian Preece

Instant Replay: Former Aggie QB Dropping Dimes At Packers Camp

Former Utah State Aggie quarterback Jordan Love is looking good as he enters his third NFL training camp with the Green Bay Packers.
3 days ago
BYU vs. Utah State - Maverik Stadium...
Brian Preece

Weather Pushes Aggies First Fall Camp Scrimmage Indoors

Being forced indoors for Utah State football's first fall scrimmage wasn't ideal but the Aggies made the most of the opportunity anyway.
3 days ago
las-vegas-raiders-players-wear-guardian-cap...
Brian Preece

‘Guardian Caps’, NFL’s Most Recent Attempt At Preventing Head Injuries

As NFL and college football camps open across the U.S., fans have been asking about the large, padded caps being worn over helmets.
3 days ago
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 8: Brandon Horvath #4 of the Utah State Aggies reacts at being called...
Brian Preece

Former Aggie Forward To Play Professionally In France

Former Utah State University basketball player Brandon Horvath has signed with Saint-Quentin Basketball, a second division French team.
6 days ago
Calvin Tyler Jr. - Utah State Aggies - LA Bowl...
KSL Sports

60 in 60: #23 Utah State’s Calvin Tyler Jr. (Running Back)

Throughout the summer Hans & Scotty are counting down the top 60 college football players in the state of Utah as voted on by the media (and a fan ballot).
6 days ago
Utah State Aggies - Dee Glen Smith Spectrum...
Brian Preece

Utah State Women’s Basketball Adds Mangino To Coaching Staff

There is little down time for Utah State women's basketall head coach Kayla Ard as she recently added McKenzie Mangino to the coaching staff.
6 days ago
Utah State Faces Cinderella Wyoming In MWC Semifinals