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LOGAN — With a 30-3 record and a WAC Tournament title to go along with their WAC regular season title, the Utah State Aggies were expecting big things when it came time for selection Sunday.
"We want to be wearing white," Tai Wesley said after defeating Boise State for the conference championship, in reference to being the higher seed in their first round game.
Much to their disappointment, Utah State will instead be looking at a 12 seed for the second-straight year, and once again will be facing a Big 12 team in Kansas State.
"I think our seed is a slap in the face," Aggie forward Tai Wesley said. "I almost feel like we should have lost last night so Boise could be playing today and we'd probably have the same seed. The second we saw our name up there as a 12 seed we were almost confused a little bit. That's how it goes on selection Sunday. I thought we would get an eight or a seven seed, or at the least a nine or a 10. I guess we will be back in the blue uni's."
It's a seed familiar to USU coach Stew Morrill, who in eight appearances in the NCAA tournament with Utah State has been slotted as the 12 seed five times.
"The more things change the more they stay the same," Morrill said. "A BCS conference team opponent and a twelve seed."
The announcement came as a shock to the Aggie players, coaches, and fans gathered at the Laub Athletics-Academics complex on the Utah State campus.
"I was kind of thinking an eight or a nine somewhere in there. A 10 at the worst," Morrill said.
"All of us wished for a little higher of a seed," Utah State guard Tyler Newbold said. "We are all a little disappointed. All the 'bracketologists' thought we might be a little higher, but they aren't on the committee."
On the positive side for Utah State was being slotted in a western pod as the Aggies will play in Tucson, Ariz. on Thursday, which could give the Aggies a chance to play in front of a friendly crowd.
"We like Tucson, we are excited about that," Wesley said. "If there was a place they could have chose on the map it would have been either Denver or Tucson. Hopefully we draw a big crowd. It is always nice playing in front of our people."
After brushing off the initial disappointment the Aggies were pleased with their opponent.
"We are looking to win this game and win another one," Wesley said. "Take out the seed and I feel like we'll be OK. We are playing Kansas State and we are excited about that. They have been kind of up and down all year. We have guys that can defend and they are pretty guard heavy so I think we will be OK. … Our mentality hasn't changed, we're going to win some games."
Morrill needed more time to study the Wildcats having not seen much of them this season but was resigned to the fact that Utah State would be playing a quality opponent no matter what their seed.
"You are going to get a really good opponent, that is just the nature of the NCAA tournament," Morrill said. "When you look at it that way we were going to get a good team no matter what. I don't know as much about them as I would like yet. We will get on top of that and get ready. If you slot us into a 7-10 or 8-9 game you are going to get a really good opponent either way. The last thing we need to do at 30 and 3 with the year we've had is be disappointed. I'm not disappointed, I'm a little surprised."47 comments on this story
As Tyler Newbold pointed out the Aggies still have plenty to be thankful for as they will be playing in their third-straight NCAA tournament.
"We just need to take things as they are. We can't change anything now," Newbold said. "We just need to be excited to play. This disappointment is temporary for a little bit. Tomorrow we will go to practice and we will all be excited. It's the NCAA tournament. We are going to be ready to go and go have fun and play our best."
Aggies on the air
No. 12 Utah State (30-3) vs. No. 5 Kansas State (22-10)
Approx. 8 p.m., Thursday, March 17
Radio: 1230 AM