Utah (22-14) vs. Indiana State (31-6)

NIT semifinals

Tip: Tuesday, 5 p.m. MDT.

Venue: Hinkle Fieldhouse (Indianapolis).

TV: ESPN.

Livestream: Watch ESPN.

Radio: 700 AM.

Series: First meeting.

Related
Why Indiana State reminds the Runnin’ Utes of BYU

The trends

For Utah: The Runnin’ Utes (22-14), as a No. 2 seed in the lower right portion of the NIT bracket, won their previous three games in the tournament all in the friendly confines of the Huntsman Center, where they went 17-2 on the season. The Utes have won by an average of 12.6 points per game during NIT play.

For Indiana State: The Sycamores (31-6) are one of four No. 1 seeds in the NIT field and, like Utah, won their three previous games at home. Their wins came over future ACC member SMU, the Big Ten’s Minnesota and the Big 12′s Cincinnati.

Quotable

“This is the closest team I’ve been a part of. Now this isn’t me talking. This is them talking,” said Utah coach Craig Smith. “It’s the closest team that we’ve been a part of and the most fun that they have had on the floor, off the floor, and so they want to just keep this thing rolling.”

“With Utah, as you would expect at this time of year, remarkably challenging on both ends of the floor to figure out how we are going to attack them and what we’re going to do,” said Indiana State coach Josh Schertz. “But that’s the fun part of this time of year. It’s high-level competition. You’ve got two great teams hooking up, and we’ve got to figure it out and find a way through, and I’m sure they feel the same way.”

The stakes

For Utah: The last time the Utes appeared in the NIT back in 2018, they advanced all the way to the championship game before losing. Utah does have one NIT championship to its name, from back in 1947. The Utes are 3-1 all-time in NIT semifinals and, with a win, would advance to play the winner of Georgia and Seton Hall in the championship.

For Indiana State: This is the second-deepest national postseason run for the Sycamores in school history, after they played in the 1979 NCAA championship game. That year, the Sycamores, led by Larry Bird, lost to Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans in the national-title game played at the Huntsman Center. This is Indiana State’s first time advancing to the NIT semifinals and its fifth overall appearance.

Indiana State guard Ryan Conwell (3) races up court during an NCAA college basketball game against Illinois State, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, in Terre Haute, Ind. | Doug McSchooler

Players to watch

For Utah: Branden Carlson, the 7-foot fifth-year senior, is the heart and soul of the Utah team. He leads the Utes in scoring (17.0) and rebounding (6.6). Gabe Madsen, who averages 13.8 points per game, has made 16 3-pointers during Utah’s NIT run, and Deivon Smith broke the Pac-12 single-season record for triple-doubles with his 15-point, 12-assist, 11-rebound effort in an NIT quarterfinals win over VCU.

For Indiana State: Center Robbie Avila is where it all begins for the Sycamores. The 6-foot-10 sophomore averages 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game, all while shooting 53% from the field and 38.9% from 3-point range. Guards Ryan Conwell and Isaiah Swope have both made more than 100 3-pointers on the year — Conwell 108 and Swope 108 — and average 16.6 and 15.8 points per game, respectively.