Utah Valley Wolverines Host Cincinnati Bearcats In NIT Quarterfinal

Mar 20, 2023, 3:32 PM

OREM, Utah – Often overlooked in the college basketball landscape of the Beehive State, Utah Valley is the last D1 men’s program playing in 2023.

The Wolverines (27-8) will host an NIT home game for the first time in program history. The Cincinnati Bearcats (23-12) will meet UVU at the UCCU Center in Orem, Utah on Wednesday, March 22. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MT).

Utah Valley head coach Mark Madsen joined KSL Sports Zone’s Hans Olsen and Scott Garrard to discuss the Wolverines.

The regular season WAC champions, Utah Valley suffered a loss in the WAC tournament semifinals that could have caused a lesser team to pack it in. UVU led by 23 points with 15:42 to play, only to see Southern Utah storm back for an unlikely 89-88 win, dashing the Wolverines dreams of March Madness.

“It was a crazy game,” Madsen remembered. “We had all the momentum in the first half and we probably had all the momentum for part of the second half. Then Southern Utah just stormed back. It was devastating for us. As players, as coaches, what we felt was not good.”

RELATED: Utah Valley Advances In NIT Tournament With Win Over Colorado Buffaloes

Madsen recognized his team needed a chance to get away from basketball.

“We took time to decompress. We just let the guys go for two days. We addressed it with us and then we moved on. We have all summer to talk about things we could have done differently. We just really focused on the next step, going to the NIT. Let’s come out and have phenomenal energy in the NIT.

Utah Valley advances in NIT

UVU entered the NIT as a seven-seed with a difficult draw. They would face the New Mexico Lobos in The Pit, traditionally one of the most difficult road venues in college basketball.

RELATED: Defense, Justin Harmon Carry Utah Valley To NIT Upset Over New Mexico

Rather than think about what could have been, the Wolverines entered the game with a refreshed focus.

“Guys were joking, guys were having fun. They were loose and relaxed,” Madsen said of their practice before facing the Lobos.

Utah Valley took a double-digit first-half lead against New Mexico, coasting to an 83-69 win to advance and face Colorado.

Four nights later, they turned a 38-38 halftime deadlock into an 81-69 victory against the Buffaloes. It was UVU’s 12th road win of the season.

Up Next

Utah Valley hosts Cincinnati at the UCCU Center on Wednesday, March 22 at 7 p.m. (MT). This game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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Utah Valley Wolverines Host Cincinnati Bearcats In NIT Quarterfinal