Editor’s note: Scores and schedules will be updated on this story throughout the week.
College basketball’s conference tournament week often carries with it plenty of excitement.
Some teams pull upsets and win their way into an unexpected NCAA Tournament bid.
Other schools see their hard work building an NCAA resume come up agonizingly too short.
For Division I programs from the state of Utah, this week will provide several teams the chance to earn their way to an NCAA Tournament bid. And if the regular season is any indication, this could be one of the more interesting conference tournament weeks for Utah schools in recent memory.
The Cougars (19-5, 10-3 West Coast Conference) are seen as a lock for the NCAA Tournament with a resume that includes wins over San Diego State (No. 21 in the NET rankings), Utah State (No. 48), St. John’s (No. 68) and two against WCC foe Saint Mary’s (No. 64).
BYU opens the WCC tournament with in a semifinal matchup against Pepperdine late Monday. The Cougars split a pair of back-to-back games with the Waves earlier this season. Pepperdine was the only team outside of Gonzaga to beat BYU in league play this year.
In addition to trying to earn their first conference tournament title in 20 years, the Cougars are playing to improve their seeding in the NCAA Tournament.
WCC men’s basketball tournament
- No. 1 Gonzaga 78, No. 4 Saint Mary’s 55
- No. 2 BYU 82, No. 3 Pepperdine 77
The Utes (11-12, 8-11 Pac-12) take one of the most unpredictable teams in the country into Las Vegas for the Pac-12 tournament.
Utah has proven it can beat the best the conference has to offer, while simultaneously losing to the league’s worst teams. The Utes position in the Pac-12 bracket is a perfect example of that.
The Utes split two games with their first-round opponent, Washington, winning at home to start the year before losing later in Seattle. If the Utes gets past the Huskies in their Pac-12 tournament opener, though, their next opponent would be USC. Utah played the Trojans well in the regular season, losing by two in California before rolling to a victory over ranked USC just over a week ago.
For the Utes to advance in the postseason, they’ll need to win the Pac-12 tournament. Otherwise, it’s season over.
Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament
- No. 8 Arizona State 64, No. 9 Washington State 59
- No. 7 Utah 98, No. 10 Washington 95
- No. 11 California 76, No. 6 Stanford 58
- No. 1 Oregon 91, No. 8 Arizona State 73
- No. 5 Oregon State 83, No. 4 UCLA 79
- No. 2 USC 91, No. 7 Utah 85
- No. 3 Colorado 61, No. 11 California 58
- No. 5 Oregon State 75, No. 1 Oregon 64
- No. 3 Colorado 72, No. 2 USC 70
- No. 5 Oregon State 70, No. 3 Colorado 68
The Aggies (18-7, 15-4 Mountain West Conference) have arguably the most important week among Utah schools. Utah State enters MWC tournament week with a good NCAA Tournament resume, but is seen by national pundits on the outside looking in right now.
A run at the league tournament is what USU needs to strengthen whatever’s left of its NCAA at-large case. The Aggies will face the winner of UNLV and Air Force in the MWC quarterfinals. While USU swept the Falcons, the Rebels handed the Aggies a costly loss in January. In the semifinals, Utah State could face Colorado State, which split a competitive series with the Aggies in Logan. The Rams snapped USU’s 11-game win streak at the time.
The Aggies, who have won four straight, can ill afford an early exit at the MWC tournament. Utah State has won the past two MWC tournaments, though, and has flashed enough potential behind stars like Neemias Queta, named the MWC Player of the Year by selected media on Monday, to show why the Aggies have as good of a chance as anyone to earn the MWC tournament championship this week.
MWC men’s basketball tournament
- No. 8 Wyoming 111, No. 9 San Jose State 80
- No. 7 UNLV 80, No. 10 Air Force 52
- No. 6 Fresno State 85, No. 11 New Mexico 77
- No. 1 San Diego State 69, No. 8 Wyoming 66
- No. 5 Nevada 89, No. 4 Boise State 82
- No. 2 Utah State 74, No. 7 UNLV 53
- No. 3 Colorado State 72, No. 6 Fresno State 62
- No. 1 San Diego State 77, No. 5 Nevada 70
- No. 2 Utah State 62, No. 3 Colorado State 50
Southern Utah, Weber State
The T-Birds (19-3, 12-2 Big Sky) and Wildcats (17-5, 12-3) are two of the best teams in the Big Sky and could meet in the league’s tournament championship game, as they sit on opposite sides of the bracket.
Top seed Southern Utah won its first regular-season conference championship in 20 years and is the hot team in the Big Sky — the T-Birds have won nine straight. Because of the pandemic, SUU may be seeing multiple teams in the tournament it hasn’t played this season. Of the four teams the T-Birds could potentially play in either the quarterfinals or semifinals, Southern Utah had games canceled against three of those four teams (Northern Colorado, Idaho State and Montana State), while sweeping Sacramento State.
It could be argued Weber State has the more difficult path. The third-seeded Wildcats will play either Montana or Idaho in the quarterfinals; the Grizzlies handed Weber State one of its three regular-season conference losses earlier this year. In the semifinals, Weber State could face No. 2 seed Eastern Washington. The Eagles had the inside track to win the regular-season championship before having their nine-game winning streak snapped last week.
Of course, in a one-bid league like the Big Sky, the path to the NCAA Tournament goes through winning the conference tournament championship. And this year in Boise, Idaho, SUU and Weber State have as good a chance as any other team to win it.
Big Sky men’s basketball tournament
- No. 8 Northern Colorado 90, No. 9 Sacramento State 83
- No. 10 Northern Arizona 77, No. 7 Portland State 66
- No. 6 Montana 69, No. 11 Idaho 64
- No. 1 Southern Utah 91, No. 8 Northern Colorado 83
- No. 5 Montana State 71, No. 4 Idaho State 63
- No. 2 Eastern Washington 66, No. 10 Northern Arizona 60
- No. 6 Montana 80, No. 3 Weber State 75
- No. 5 Montana State 80, No. 1 Southern Utah 77
- No. 2 Eastern Washington 78, No. 6 Montana 50
- No. 2 Eastern Washington 65, No. 5 Montana State 55
Much like Southern Utah and Weber State, the Wolverines (11-10, 9-4 Western Athletic Conference) go into their conference tournament with some momentum.
To earn its first NCAA Tournament bid, though, UVU may well have to beat three-time defending WAC regular-season champ New Mexico State in the semifinals and top seed Grand Canyon in the championship. The Wolverines split with both teams this year — UVU’s win at Grand Canyon last week in the opener of a two-game series ensured the Wolverines a share of the WAC regular-season title.
The ’Lopes, in particular, have been a significant stumbling block for UVU in Las Vegas recently. Grand Canyon eliminated the Wolverines in back-to-back years in the WAC tournament semifinals in 2017-18 and 2018-19, Mark Pope’s last two years at UVU.
This will be second-year coach Mark Madsen’s first attempt to win the WAC tournament, after last year’s event was canceled at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
WAC men’s basketball tournament
- No. 5 Seattle 83, No. 4 Cal Baptist 66
- No. 3 New Mexico State 77, No. 6 UT Rio Grande Valley 61
- No. 1 Grand Canyon 81, No. 5 Seattle 47
- No. 3 New Mexico State 78, No. 2 Utah Valley 62
- No. 1 Grand Canyon 74, No. 3 New Mexico State 56