by Daniel Olsen
The Utah State men’s basketball team is in South Carolina to participate in the Myrtle Beach Invitational. Starting today at 12:30 p.m. MST on ESPNU, they will play three games throughout this weekend and compete for the top spot out of eight participants. The other participants are New Mexico State, Davidson, Pennsylvania, Indiana State, Oklahoma, Old Dominion and East Carolina. It’s time to take a look at several reasons why they should be the favorite going into this tournament.
1. Joe Lunardi Says So
This is an important one. Joe Lunardi, who invented bracketology and is the go-to guy at ESPN for college basketball, picked the Aggies to beat Oklahoma in the championship of this tournament. It is difficult to not at least strongly consider his opinion.
2. The bracket is favorable
The Aggies have the privilege of playing their first game against a relatively easier team in the Pennsylvania Quakers. They will then play the winner of New Mexico State and Davidson. Those are tough but beatable mid major teams. They avoid Indiana State, Oklahoma, East Carolina and Old Dominion on the other side of the bracket. If they can string together some wins, they won’t have to run into a buzz saw of a P5 team like Oklahoma until possibly the championship game.
3. Momentum is Key
One saying is that a team is only as good as its last win. While the Aggies lost a close home opener to the UC Davis Aggies, they bounced back to defeat one of the better teams in the Atlantic 10 in Richmond. Under Ryan Odom last year, the UMBC Retrievers were 9-2 in games following a win. They also never had a losing streak that lasted more than one game. As this momentum builds, the probability of a Myrtle Beach Invitational trophy increases. The one thing the Aggies can’t do is play down to their opponent. They played down to UC Davis in a game they were favored and beat the Richmond Spiders team in a game which they were slight underdogs in. The Pennsylvania Quakers are an inferior team against Utah State, but should be respected like any team in order for the Aggies to advance to the semifinals.
Once we see the good version of Rylan Jones, this team can be scary good. For now, expect to see the dynamic duo of Justin Bean and Brandon Horvath light it up. Bean has had a double-double in both contests this season and will likely have a few more in Conway, South Carolina. If the Aggies play to their potential, expect to see a double-digit win today in the opening round.
Featured image courtesy USU Statesman