LAS VEGAS — The Utah Valley basketball team has already accomplished one big goal by winning the regular-season championship in the Western Athletic Conference. But the Wolverines have a lot of work ahead of them to reach another big goal — a berth in the NCAA tournament.
The No. 1-seeded Wolverines begin their NCAA quest Thursday at 1 p.m. MDT when they play Texas-Pan American in the first game of the WAC tourney at the Orleans Arena.
The Wolverines have to win three games in three days to earn their first-ever NCAA berth. Other first-round games include Kansas City-Idaho at 3:30 p.m., Chicago State-Bakersfield at 6 p.m. and New Mexico State-Seattle at 8:30 p.m.
If UVU wins, it would play the Kansas City-Idaho winner at 7 p.m. Friday night. The final is set for 8 p.m. Saturday and will be televised on ESPNU.
The Wolverines (13-3, 19-10 overall) have a senior-laden team led by center Ben Aird and guard Holton Hunsaker, who were both named first-team All-WAC. Aird, a senior from Bountiful, averages 11.7 points and 8.2 rebounds, while Hunsaker, son of head coach Dick Hunsaker and also a senior, averages 13.6 points and 4.0 assists per game.
Other starters are freshman Zach Nelson (10.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg), junior Mitch Bruneel (9.9 ppg) and senior Keawe Enos (7.7 ppg). Sophomore Hayes Garrity is the top reserve and averages 9.1 points per game.
Although the Broncos (5-11, 9-22) are the lowest-seeded team in the tournament, they gave the Wolverines all they could handle in a 45-42 loss in Orem two weeks ago. Earlier in the season, UVU captured a 67-53 win in Texas.
This game, as well as every game in the WAC tournament, will be streamed live on WACSports.tv.