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Where BYU, Utah, Utah State land in latest bracketology projections heading into conference play

Weber State is also being mentioned as a contender to make this year’s tournament

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BYU Cougars guard Richie Saunders (15) shoots the ball over Utah Utes center Lawson Lovering (34) during a game in Salt Lake City on Dec. 9, 2023.

BYU Cougars guard Richie Saunders (15) shoot over Utah Utes center Lawson Lovering (34) during a men’s basketball game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023.

Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

Going into conference play, there are a handful of Utah schools that national media consider to be strong contenders to reach the NCAA Tournament this season.

No. 14 BYU and Utah lead the way among local teams, while Utah State is also earning mention as a tournament possibility. So, too, is Weber State.

The Utes, Aggies and Wildcats will start league play over the next few days, while the Cougars are a week away from kicking off their first season in the Big 12 Conference.

What do the latest bracketology projections from ESPN (updated Tuesday), CBS Sports (from Dec. 15) and Fox Sports (Dec. 22) envision for the Utah schools at this point?

Here’s a look at each school: 


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BYU Cougars guard Dallin Hall (30) passes the ball as Bellarmine Knights guard Dezmond McKinney (4) guards him during a men’s basketball game at the Marriott Center in Provo on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

No. 14 BYU Cougars (11-1)

  • ESPN: No. 3 seed, vs. No. 14 Fort Wayne in first round (Salt Lake City regional).
  • CBS Sports: No. 5 seed, vs. No. 12 Princeton in first round (Salt Lake City regional).
  • Fox Sports: No. 5 seed, vs. No. 12 Grand Canyon in first round.

What stands out: The Cougars moved up from a 4 seed to a No. 3 in ESPN’s latest bracketology, the highest seed projection for BYU among the three.

Multiple outlets see staying home in the Salt Lake City regional — the Delta Center will host the first two rounds this season — as a possibility for BYU, which kicks off its first season in the Big 12 next week.

Current rankings: No. 3 in NET rankings, No. 4 in KenPom.

Upcoming schedule: Saturday vs. Wyoming (4 p.m. MST), Jan. 6 vs. Cincinnati (8 p.m.).


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Utah Utes guard Gabe Madsen (55) dribble the ball with Bellarmine Knights guard Dezmond McKinney (4) on defense during the men’s college basketball game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023.

Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

Utah Utes (9-2)

  • ESPN: No. 8 seed, vs. No. 9 Northwestern in first round (Omaha regional).
  • CBS Sports: No. 5 seed, vs. No. 12 Dayton in first round (Spokane regional).
  • Fox Sports: No. 8 seed, vs. No. 9 South Carolina in first round.

What stands out: The Utes, who enter league play on a six-game winning streak, moved up from a 9 seed to a No. 8 over last week in ESPN’s bracketology.

CBS Sports gives Utah its most promising projection with a No. 5 seed and clearly the second-best in the Pac-12, which makes the Utes’ upcoming game at Arizona — a No. 1 seed in all three projections — even more intriguing.

Current rankings: No. 25 in NET rankings, No. 31 in KenPom.

Upcoming schedule: Friday vs. Washington State (6:30 p.m.), Sunday vs. Washington (4 p.m.), Jan. 4 at Arizona State (9 p.m.), Jan. 6 at Arizona (6 p.m.).


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Utah State Aggies head coach Danny Sprinkle talks with guard Darius Brown II (10) against San Francisco Dons at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Utah State Aggies (12-1)

  • ESPN: Among first four out.
  • CBS Sports: Among first four out.
  • Fox Sports: No. 10 seed, vs. No. 7 James Madison.

What stands out: The Aggies sit just outside the projected NCAA field in the majority of bracketology predictions headed into Mountain West Conference play, but that could easily change quickly.

Fox Sports has five MWC teams making the NCAA Tournament this season — the other two have at least three conference teams in their current projections — and Utah State will host No. 15 Colorado State during the first week of league play.

Current rankings: No. 40 in NET rankings, No. 62 in KenPom.

Upcoming schedule: Jan. 2 at Air Force (2 p.m.), Jan. 6 vs. Colorado State (7 p.m.).


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Weber State forward Dillon Jones, right, shoots over Saint Mary’s center Mitchell Saxen, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Moraga, Calif.

Godofredo A. Vásquez, Associated Press

Weber State Wildcats (7-4)

  • ESPN: No. 15 seed, vs. No. 2 Marquette (Indianapolis regional).
  • CBS Sports: Not included.
  • Fox Sports: Not included.

What stands out: ESPN’s Joe Lunardi currently has the Wildcats as his favorite to win the Big Sky tournament and represent the league in the NCAA Tournament, while CBS Sports and Fox Sports are giving that edge to Portland State.

Weber State, after hosting its first two Big Sky games this week, will take part in the Big Sky-Summit League Challenge next week.

Current rankings: No. 120 in NET rankings, No. 114 in KenPom.

Upcoming schedule: Thursday vs. Montana (7 p.m.), Saturday vs. Montana State (2 p.m.), Jan. 3 vs. South Dakota State (7 p.m.), Jan. 6 at Oral Roberts (6 p.m.).