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Latest bracketology predicts a historical rarity — 4 Utah schools making the NCAA Tournament

Utah State joins BYU, Utah and Weber State in ESPN’s latest NCAA Tournament projection

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Utah State Aggies celebrate the win over the San Francisco Dons at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. USU won 54-53.

Utah State Aggies celebrate the win over the San Francisco Dons at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. USU won 54-53.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

It’s been quite a season thus far for several Division I men’s basketball teams around the state of Utah.

That’s reflected in the latest ESPN bracketology released Tuesday, as four Utah programs — BYU, Utah, Utah State and Weber State — are projected to make this year’s NCAA Tournament by Joe Lunardi.

  • BYU’s projection: No. 3 seed vs. Weber State in first round, Salt Lake City regional.
  • Utah’s projection: No. 7 seed vs. Northwestern in first round, Indianapolis regional.
  • Utah State’s projection: No. 11 seed vs. Nebraska in First Four game, Dayton, Ohio.
  • Weber State’s projection: No. 14 seed vs. BYU in first round, Salt Lake City regional.

The obvious draw in these projections is the BYU-Weber State matchup in Salt Lake City — the Delta Center will host the first two rounds of the tournament this season.

The No. 12 Cougars went 12-1 in nonconference play and begin Big 12 action this week, while Weber State is projected as the Big Sky’s automatic bid. The Wildcats just started league play with blowout wins over Montana and Montana State.

Last week, Utah was projected as a No. 8 seed in ESPN’s projections. The Utes are on an eight-game winning streak, including beating Washington State and Washington over the weekend to start Pac-12 play.

Utah State moved into ESPN’s projected field of 68 for the first time this season after being among the first four out in recent weeks. Utah State kicked off Mountain West Conference play Tuesday with a blowout win over Air Force.

Have four Utah schools ever made the NCAA Tournament in the same season?

There have been two instances in history in which four Utah Division I schools made the men’s NCAA Tournament.

The last time happened in the 2003 tournament. That year, BYU, Utah, Utah State and Weber State all made the tournament, with the Utes winning their first-round game while the others lost in the first round.

It also happened in 1979. That year, BYU, Utah, Utah State and Weber State all made the tournament, with the Cougars and Wildcats each winning one game.

There have been six other instances when three Utah schools have made the NCAA Tournament, most recently in 2009 when BYU, Utah and Utah State all did.