No. 8 seed Utah State (27-6) vs. No. 9 seed TCU (21-12)

Tip: 7:55 p.m. MDT.

Venue: Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

TV: TBS.

Streaming: Max.

Radio: 97.5 FM/1280 AM.

Series: Utah State leads 2-0.

The trends

For Utah State: The Aggies won their final five games of the regular season and had the No. 1 seed in the Mountain West Conference tournament. After an overtime win against Fresno State, the Aggies fell to San Diego State in the MWC tournament semifinals. Utah State hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since its upset victory over Ohio State in 2001.

For TCU: The Horned Frogs ended the regular season with a 10-10 record in the Big 12. They had the No. 8 seed in the conference tournament and lost to No. 1 seed Houston in the quarterfinals. This year marks TCU’s third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The team made it to the second round last year.

Related
Looking for more: During a season no one saw coming, Utah State isn’t done yet
The Aggies will be battling history as well as TCU Friday at the NCAA Tournament

Quotable

“Our offense has to be great. Our ball movement and our body movement have to be on point because they’re one of the best offensive transition teams in the country. I think they’re averaging 18 or 19 points in transition, so if you let them start getting going with that — silly turnovers and live ball turnovers — that’s a recipe for disaster,” Utah State coach Danny Sprinkle said Thursday.

“I know we’ve done this before. We’ve done this a bunch since I’ve been here. But it never gets old,” said TCU coach Jamie Dixon Monday. “And everybody goes in with all kinds of hope.”

The stakes

For Utah State: The Aggies are looking to win their program’s first NCAA Tournament game since 2001 and build on a successful season that saw them go 15-5 in conference play despite not having any returning point scorers from last year.

For TCU: A streak of NCAA Tournament berths doesn’t mean as much if you regularly lose in the first or second round. The Horned Frogs would like to make a more memorable run this year.

TCU head coach Jamie Dixon reacts during a game against Oklahoma Wednesday, March 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. | Charlie Riedel

Players to watch

For Utah State: Forward Great Osobor is averaging 18 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for the Aggies. Earlier this month, he was named the Mountain West Player of the Year. Utah State likely won’t be able to keep up with TCU if Osobor has an off day.

For TCU: Forward Emanuel Miller, like Osobor, leads his team in scoring and rebounding. He’s averaging 15.9 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game.