Why it’s such a big college basketball weekend for Southern Utah, Utah Valley and Weber State
The T-Birds, Wolverines and Wildcats could win their way to a regular-season conference championship, while Utah and Utah State wrap up the regular season
Editor’s note: This story was updated since originally being published Thursday, March 4, 2021, to reflect the week’s latest results and how they impact Utah schools.
Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, there is still plenty at stake in conference races and league tournament seedings for college basketball teams in the state of Utah.
That’s particularly true for Southern Utah, Weber State and Utah Valley, who all could win their way to a regular-season conference championship.
Here’s a look at what each school is playing for this weekend:
Southern Utah/Weber State
The final week of the regular season has already been a crazy one for the Big Sky Conference, and it leaves Southern Utah (18-3, 11-2 Big Sky) in prime position to win the conference’s regular-season championship heading into the weekend.
There’s also the chance that fellow in-state school Weber State (17-5, 12-3) could grab the Big Sky title if the T-Birds falter.
This all became possible when Eastern Washington (12-7, 11-3), which was a half-game up on both SUU and Weber State heading into the final week of the regular season, lost at Idaho State on Wednesday.
SUU then took the Big Sky lead with a 68-58 win at Portland State Thursday (the two teams will play again Saturday, 1 p.m. MST, on Pluto TV). With the victory, the T-Birds have the highest winning percentage (.846) in conference play, during a season where the pandemic has created a disproportionate number of games. If SUU beats Portland State again on Saturday, it will capture the Big Sky regular-season crown.
Weber State rallied to edge Northern Colorado 60-59 on Thursday to keep pace with SUU, but the Wildcats have a worse conference winning percentage (.800) having playing two more games than T-Birds, with one more win and one more loss in Big Sky play. If SUU loses to Portland State, though, and Weber State beats Northern Colorado in their second matchup at the Dee Events Center on Saturday (noon, Pluto TV), the Wildcats will win the Big Sky title.
The Eagles finish their regular season with another game against the Bengals on Friday, but Eastern Washington now sits a half-game back of both Utah teams and would need to win Friday and have the T-Birds and Wildcats both lose to regain the top spot in the Big Sky.
Got all that?
The Wolverines (10-9, 8-3 Western Athletic Conference) could earn the WAC’s top seed in the tournament and the regular-season league title. That’s because UVU sits a half-game back of conference-leading Grand Canyon (14-5, 8-2 WAC) and will play the ’Lopes in Phoenix on Friday and Saturday (7 p.m. both nights, ESPN+).
No matter how the series turns out, UVU has secured a top two seed in next week’s WAC tournament, giving it a bye into the semifinals. The Wolverines would earn the league’s regular-season title and No. 1 tournament seed with a sweep and would be regular-season co-champs with a split. If they split, the No. 1 and No. 2 tournament seeds would be determined by who finishes third.
“The standings and seeding for this year’s tournament is based on a formula that takes into account both winning percentage and the percentage of games played,” UVU said on its website.
Following the Utes’ 75-70 loss to Oregon State on Wednesday night, Utah (10-12, 7-11 Pac-12) sits ninth in the conference standings with one game to play. The Utes wrap up the regular season with a home game against Arizona State on Saturday (noon, FS1).
The winner of Saturday’s Utes-Sun Devils game will get the No. 7 seed in the Pac-12 tournament and face No. 10 Washington, while the loser will be the No. 8 seed and take on No. 9 Washington State.
The Aggies (16-7, 13-4 Mountain West) have one game left in the regular season — Saturday at Fresno State (9 p.m., FS1) — after beating Wyoming 72-59 on Thursday.
San Diego State has already locked up the MWC regular-season title and No. 1 seed in the league tournament with its win over UNLV on Wednesday night. Colorado State (at Nevada on Friday) is a half-game ahead of Utah State in the standings, while Boise State is a game back of the Aggies, and because the Broncos’ regular season is over, USU will finish in the top three in the regular-season standings.
The Cougars (19-5, 10-3 West Coast Conference) have already wrapped up their regular season and will be the No. 2 seed in the WCC tournament. BYU will face either Pepperdine, Pacific or Santa Clara (a winner over Portland in the tournament’s first round) in the semifinals next Monday (10 p.m., ESPN2).
The Trailblazers (8-11, 4-8 WAC), in their first year as a Division I member, will finish up their season with a two-game home series against three-time defending WAC regular-season champion New Mexico State (Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. both nights on WAC Digital Network). Dixie State, as a provisional D-I member, won’t play in the postseason.