If a college basketball fan in Utah looked at mock brackets and BPI rankings he or she wouldn’t be feeling too good right now. It might be a better idea to jump on the East Coast bandwagon and cheer for teams that give their players six figures to sign with them. Even though Utah teams have played by the rules they will still find a way to be left out of the big dance unless they win their respective conference tournaments. Here is a look at the five major division 1 programs in the state from best to worst on the BPI rankings:
Utah (79): The Runnin’ Utes could be running straight for the NIT tournament for the second straight year after their pivotal double digit loss to USC. The Utes have one quality win and six quality losses. They may have used their weak 153rd ranked non conference strength of schedule to rack up wins early on but losses to teams like in-state rival BYU and old Mountain West foe UNLV can’t help.
Best case scenario: The Utes manage to somehow string together several wins together just in time as they win their first Pac-12 title in a major sport. This earns them a five seed. They narrowly escape a classic 12 seed upset by edging out a team like Buffalo. The Buffalo student who won free pizza for his half court shot is devastated. The Utes come back down to earth as they once again lose to Gonzaga in the second round of the Big Dance.
Worst case scenario: The Utes lose every game going forward and not only play themselves out of the Big Dance but also the NIT. The CIT and CBI come calling. The Utes politely decline because a Power 5 school should be above those tournaments.
Most likely scenario: The Utes are going to the NIT. They beat Colorado and win the first round of the PAC-12. They then are promptly beaten in the second round. They manage to win a few NIT games but conveniently lose them if there is a risk that they would have to play BYU in the NIT and lose to them for the second time this season.
BYU (80): It is unfathomable how a team who defeated their rival this season could somehow be one spot below their rival in BPI rankings. Isn’t a head to head matchup the tiebreaker? BYU does have a slightly better strength of schedule than the Utes at 143rd which is surprising considering the Utes play in a Power 5 Conference. The WCC is good but they are too heavy with St. Mary’s and Gonzaga always being dominant with BYU coming up in the rear view mirror.
Best Case scenario: BYU pulls off some miracles and manages to slay one WCC giant in St. Mary’s. But even King David in the Bible could only slay one giant. The Cougars barely lose to the Zags in their first WCC title game but make another big NIT run that puts them in the big spotlight of Madison Square Garden as it did a couple seasons ago. The Cougars make it to the championship game but once again are thwarted by Valparaiso.
Worst Case scenario: The Cougars lose all their remaining games as well as the first round of the tournament. They like the Utes will consider themselves above the CIT and CBI and have no postseason games. Time for offseason.
Most likely scenario: BYU will join St. Mary’s in the NIT as the Gaels are furious about being one of the first four teams left out of the conference tournament after being ranked for most of the season. The Gaels go farther than BYU in the NIT as they earn a more favorable one seed. BYU’s season ends in the Sweet 16! Wait, if it’s the NIT shouldn’t it be called the Semisweet 16? Oh well.
UVU (87): UVU is impressive but not enough to impress the BPI analysts. What does second in the WAC get you? Yep. Behind BYU and Utah who are lower in their respective conference totem poles.
Best case scenario: They win their conference tournament thanks to easier competition but earn a 15 seed and lose in the first round to a two seed that likely pays their recruits six figures to annihilate them.
Worst case scenario: They lose in the first round of their tournament and go to the CBI.
Most likely scenario: They lose in the second round of their conference tournament and still end up in the CBI. Maybe they will be the runner up in the tournament and be second place in a second class tournament.
Weber State (128): The Wildcats aren’t up to Arizona Wildcat status. Their budget won’t allow them to even be at East High Wildcats status. Zac Efron is getting paid too much after his renaissance in The Greatest Showman.
Anyways, off the Wildcats tangent because Weber State is sick of it. The Wildcats are third in their conference in BPI rankings so their postseason future looks similar to UVU. See UVUs scenarios above if you want to know what’s possible for another decent team in the state who is in mid-major purgatory.
Utah State (152): Not much hope here since they are currently the 8th best team of a one bid conference. The best win for the Aggies this year was probably against the second best team in the conference in Boise State. However they managed to go winless against all other teams in the Beehive State. What happened to the good old days when Stew Morrill led his teams to go undefeated against the state? That was a decade ago. Those days seem long gone.
Best case scenario: The Aggies go to the CIT and lose in the first round after they lose the Mountain West championship game.
Worst case scenario: The Aggies barely beat San Jose State and lose to UNLV on Senior Night. They lose the first round of the MWC tournament and receive no postseason invitations.
Most likely scenario: It’s most likely the Big Dance or bust for the Aggies and if recent history is any indication it’s most likely a bust. The Aggies as always will try to turn it around for the tournament but they don’t do themselves any favors as an 8 seed in their conference tournament. The Aggies will win a few more games to improve their win total from last season’s 14 wins but once again it won’t result in any type of postseason action.
Bottom line: There will be some post season action for the Beehive State. It just likely won’t be in the NCAA tournament. The boosters and coaches will just need to empty their wallets to compete with bigger schools who are paying their recruits. There are rumors that the Utes even paid Kyle Kuzma and if that got them out in the first round of the NIT then it’s likely not worth it to cheat.