How this week’s games will impact conference tournament seedings for local college basketball teams


Since joining the Mountain West Conference for the 2013-14 college basketball season, Utah State has managed to earn a first-round bye for the league’s tournament only once, in 2015.

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Aggies are in position to earn a first-round bye in next month’s tournament, reserved for teams that finish conference play in the top five in the standings.

Five teams currently sit within a half-game of each other from the third to seventh spots in the MW standings, including USU. Of those, the Aggies — currently tied for sixth with New Mexico — hold the season sweep over Fresno State and were swept by Wyoming. Utah State could still earn season sweeps over New Mexico and UNLV.

That gives added weight to Utah State’s games against the Lobos and league-leading Nevada this week. If USU can manage a top 3 seed, it would avoid having to play the MW No. 1 seed in the tournament until the final, if the Aggies aren’t the top seed, an unlikely but still possible scenario.

Here’s a look at how this week’s game could affect tournament seeding for local college basketball teams:

Utah State (14-12, 7-6 MWC)

Mountain West standings

MW standings, 2/14

This week’s Utah State games: Wednesday at New Mexico, 7 p.m. MST; Saturday vs. Nevada, 4 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

How this week could impact Utah State’s tournament seeding: A win over New Mexico would give Utah State a sweep of the Lobos and the upper hand over New Mexico in the race for a tournament seed. Two victories could vault the Aggies into the No. 3 spot in the conference standings. A pair of losses this week could drop Utah State as low as a tie for ninth in the league standings with two weeks to play.

Utah State lost to No. 24 Nevada earlier this season in Reno, 83-57. With how tight the conference race is, the only two spots USU can not get in the tournament is the No. 10 and No. 11 seeds.

Other key games this week include Boise State and Nevada facing each other Wednesday for first place in the MW, while San Diego State hosts Wyoming on Wednesday and UNLV on Saturday.

Utah (15-9, 7-6 Pac-12)

Pac-12 standings

Pac-12 standings, 2/14

This week’s Utah games: Thursday at Washington, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks); Saturday at Washington State, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

How this week could impact Utah’s tournament seeding: The Utes face a big test Thursday against Washington, a team that sits a half-game ahead of Utah in the standings and one which the Utes already beat at the Huntsman Center earlier this season. With two wins this week, the Utes could climb as high as No. 2 in the Pac-12 standings.

Utah beat writer Dirk Facer took an extensive look at the Utes’ hopes of earning a top 4 seed in the Pac-12 tournament, which would give Utah a first-round bye in next month’s tournament.

BYU (20-7, 9-5 WCC)

West Coast Conference standings

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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