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Craig Smith: Utah Basketball Brand Will Carry Them To Exciting MTE Options

New Utah Utes head basketball coach Craig Smith. (Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – One of the exciting parts of college basketball is the MTE’s and Utah head coach Craig Smith is excited about his options.

MTE’s have been hit and miss with the Utah basketball program over the last decade under Larry Krystkowiak. Meanwhile, Craig Smith has done well in MTE’s (Multi-Team Event) when he was at Utah State.

Smith joined the Crimson Corner last Thursday for a live stream, discussing many different topics, including MTE’s.

“We’re exploring all kinds of MTE’s,” Smith said. “We have great response from a lot of people. Our brand at the University of Utah really can carry us in all that that entails when it comes to TV and our fan base. So I’m really excited at the options that we have, we just haven’t made a final decision yet.”

Craig Smith Told Las Vegas MTE Organizers ‘We Want To Play The Best’ Despite Aggies Not Projected Well In Preseason

Smith told a story of when he first took the Utah State job, they were predicted to finish ninth in the Mountain West preseason poll. They were scheduled to play In the MGM Resorts Main Event.

“When I first got hired at Utah State, we were picked ninth in the in the Mountain West,” Smith stated.  The MTE we were in was in Las Vegas, I forget the name of the tournament, but Mississippi State was in it who was ranked. Arizona State was in it and was projected to be very good. Both those teams made the NCAA Tournament. St. Mary’s was in it, they made the NCAA Tournament. They tried to talk us out of it and play in one of their lower level tournaments. I said ‘No, I want to play the best.’ We destroyed St. Mary’s and lost a tight game to Arizona State. Then the next year we went to Jamaica and beat LSU. We played Florida on a ‘neutral’ court in the Orange Bowl, we beat them.”

Craig Smith – Utah State’s Recent MTE’s

As mentioned above, Utah State played in the MGM Resorts Main Event. They beat Saint Mary’s 80-63 in the first game before falling to Arizona State, 87-82. During the 2019-20 season, the Aggies went to Jamaica to play in the Jamaica Classic. They beat LSU by two points in the first game and knocked off North Texas in the second game by nine points.

This past season, Utah State started the season with an MTE, playing in the Bad Boy Mower Crossover Classic. Utah was originally scheduled to play in that MTE but backed out due to COVID-19 concerns. The Aggies lost to VCU by 16 points in the first game, fell to South Dakota State in the second game by 14 before beating Northern Iowa by 11 in the final game.

Utah’s Recent MTE’s

In the first season under Larry Krystkowiak in 2011-12, Utah played in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. They lost to Harvard by 28 points, UMass by 14 points and UNC Asheville by 22 points. The next season, Utah hosted a MTE called “Utah Thanksgiving Tournament,” going undefeated with wins over Idaho State, Central Michigan and Wright State.

In the 2013-14 season, Utah hosted the Global Sports Hoops Showcase, once again going undefeated with victories over Grand Canyon, Lamar and Savannah State. The Runnin’ Utes didn’t participate in an MTE during the 2014-15 season. In the following season, Utah played in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, where they beat Texas Tech in the opener. Then they lost to Texas Tech in the second game before beating Temple in the final contest.

During the Christmas Holiday in 2016, the Runnin’ Utes played in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. They lost to San Francisco in the opener before getting wins over Hawai’i and Stephen F. Austin. In the 2017-18 campaign, Utah played two games in the MGM Resorts Main Event, beating Ole Miss before falling to UNLV.

In 2018, the Utes went to Fullerton, California to participate in the Wooden Legacy. Utah lost to Hawai’i and then picked up a win over Grand Canyon. They ended the MTE with a loss to Northwestern. The most recent MTE Utah played in was the Myrtle Beach Invitational. The Utes went 1-2 with losses to Coastal Carolina and Tulane, and knocked off Ohio.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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