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Utah Sports Ruckus: Why BYU will lose; Utes/Cougs battle for bragging rights; NCAA Tourney predictions; and much more

Published: Tuesday, March 18 2014 5:23 p.m. MDT

Who has bragging rights, the Utes or Cougs? Next » 2 of 5 « Prev
This is a tough one. The Utes and Cougs both have reasons to talk smack, and yet they both have reasons not to.

The Utes can say, “We blew you off the court when we played head-to-head this season, ha ha!”

The Cougs can say, “We made the NCAA Tournament as a top 40 team and you weren’t even in the top half of the NIT, oh snap!”

The Utes can say, “We played in the Pac-12 and beat the likes of UCLA, Arizona State, California and Colorado, while you played little boy basketball in the WCC and lost to teams like Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Portland and Pacific — so what now?”

The Cougs can say, “Well, we had a better overall strength of schedule than you and we beat the likes of Texas, Stanford and Gonzaga while you scored 46 points and lost to Washington State, lost to Stanford (who we beat), and finished in the bottom half of your conference — so you tell us what now!”

The Utes can say, “Well, like we said, what really matters is the head-to-head matchup and we crushed you. Period.”

The Cougs can say, “Actually, like we said, what really matters is making the NCAA Tournament. Conversation over.”

Both the Utes and Cougs were embarrassed in their conference tournaments once they ran into good teams. Both the Utes and Cougs have 11 losses. Both the Utes and Cougs collected some impressive individual honors.

There is one more thing the Cougars can say to the Utes that gives them bragging rights for now: “Oh, by the way, our women’s team is in the NCAA Tournament too. Wasn’t yours second-to-last in your conference?”

And there you have it.

Then again, on second thought, the Utes could pull out: “Wait a second — check the scoreboard. Our women’s team also beat yours head-to-head, just as all our teams seem to do these days.”

But let’s not start that again.

The fact is, bragging rights are still largely on the line between the Utes and Cougs for this season. If the Cougar teams flame out in the first round of the Big Dance, while the Utes win at least two games in the NIT, give the edge to the Utes.

If not, bragging rights go to the Cougs. Making the NCAA Tournament is ultimately a bigger accomplishment than winning one game head-to-head, even in a blowout.

My two cents is that the Utes are still the best men’s team in the state right now.


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Old But Not Stupid
Moorpark, CA

Nate-
After St. Mary's College (lost twice to BYU this year) beat down of Utah in their high school gym, you still think Utah is the best team in your state?

WSUfan
Farmington, UT

Nate,
You shouldn't be surprised at the fact that WSU hasn't been in the NCAA's since 2007. As a guy reporting on the state basketball programs you should know it. You should know of the heartbreak losses we've suffered as we tried to get that one spot reserved for the Sky -- of the recent rivalry with Montana, or even the fact that with Lillard, as a poster-boy college player, couldn't even get us in the NIT when they snubbed our 81 RPI a couple of years ago.

Your lists this year were always absent of coverage of the Wildcats, who seem to merely be an afterthought for you -- and here we are one of the two teams dancing. Weber is finally getting some attention from the Des, with a nice story on Berry today. But we've been here all year with hardly a notice. We have a solid program that graduates really good student athletes. As a Weber fan who reads the Des, I'm calling you out, Nate. Covering college basketball, especially on the Wasatch front, you should pay more attention!

RockOn
Spanish Fork, UT

Utes the best team in state??? Doesn't that depend upon where they are playing? At the Huntsman Center -- they've proven they're the best. Away? They aren't very good. At the MC -- BYU wins. Neither team deserves too many accolades. Plausible seasons but not great. BYU played better more consistently and had the best record against competition on neutral and away games. That's about the end of that.

Crisco B
Salt Lake City, UT

When was this written? The Utes have been sent home from the NIT with a goodnight kiss. But luckily they can rest on the fact that they are the best team in the state.

Voodohound99
Provo, UT

The Utes had how many wins this year? And how many of those wins were at home against high school teams? I thought so. They talk smack and then lose to the WCC 4th place team? How well did they represent the Pac-12?

Down under
Salt Lake City, UT

Nate,
And how about now? Utes still the best team? LOL This is terrible reporting by someone who is obvisoulsy a utah fan.

jarka-rus
Layton, Utah

Well Mr. Gagon, guess that's why they play the games huh? Utes aren't even the best team in the WCC let alone the state , . Byu most likely won't beat Oregon w/out Collinsworth but who knows? Oh you do because they got all excited. Guess I should go back and break down my bracket picks again to automatically put a loss for teams that jumped for joy when their name was called. Why shouldn't a team be happy to get a #10 in the NCAA? they're still young kids right? who cares if they acted like they just won the national championship? March Madness is great and the best tournament in all sports.

jarka-rus
Layton, Utah

Kate Upton is more overrated than the Pac

Truebluecoug
Park City, UT

Considering the entire body of work with this year's BYU and Utah teams: against common foes, who had the better overall team?

Utah
Utah wins over BYU at Utah
Utah loses to Oregon in OT at Utah
Utah loses at Stanford
Utah loses at St Mary's
Utah finishes at 21-12 w/one heck of a very questionable pre-season schedule

BYU
BYU loses at Utah
BYU loses in OT at Oregon
BYU wins at Stanford
BYU wins at St. Mary's
BYU finishes at 23-11 w nearly half the RPI of Utah w/a tough pre-season schedule

You make the call.If your mind will only allow you to consider head-to-head, then you have a very deluded answer that won't allow you to move beyond one particular night vs an entire season.

Cal Coug
Loomis, CA

Wow. I've seen some delusion before, but seriously? Utah the best team in the state? With EXACTLY 2 road wins. One at USC, R=(RPI of 170!) and one at Cal. (RPI of 61). And Utah ended the year with an RPI of 79. Please.

IdahoCoog
Malad City, ID

Two words... SOUR GRAPES!

BlueHusky
Mission Viejo, CA

Nate,

I'm still picking BYU to steal this one against Oregon. For the same reasons you picked Oregon. The Ducks will come in fat dumb and happy, relishing their previous overtime win at home.

This ain't at Eugene. BYU plays much tougher now than when they played OU. Better defense, period.

Yeah, no Collinsworth. Too bad, he's their best player, but I think Cougs will find a way to beat Oregon.

Next round? Not so much. But considering this team's youth, they're pretty good. They'll bring it to Round 1.

As for Utah ... well, unlike you, I picked St Mary's to beat Utah.

haggie
Visalia, CA

It seems that folks like ESPN and Mr. Gagon may have their bias.

Example: ESPN blind test that the two analysts said Team C is clearly the team, of those three, that should make the tournament. Well their bubble was burst when BYU was revealed as Team C.

Mr. Gagon takes it a step further and suggest the need for a new statistic called the SOJ or "Shout Of Joy" statistic. If we factor in the human element in each of these analysis it seems like BYU will never make it. BYU consistently makes the clean and sober list and the happiest students list. So they are already pre-disposed to happiness. Throw in the opportunity to continue on in something like the NCAA tournamant and they have no chance if SOJ makes it as a determining variable.

Clearly Mr. Gagon you may have found a way to keep BYU from success in getting in the post season.

Quick call ESPN!

nategagon
Taylorsville, UT

Come on Cougar fans, would a biased "Ute fan" predict that BYU would win a basketball national championship in 2018-19? Google it.

I just give it to you straight, as I see it. Yeah, the Utes fell apart late against Saint Mary's after leading almost the entire game, but come on, the Cougs lost to several bottom-feeder teams in the WCC including getting blown out by last-place Loyola Marymount.

Like I said, the Utes would have had to win at least two NIT games and have both the Cougar men and women lose in the first round to have bragging rights this season. Obviously that didn't happen, so in my opinion it is now safe to say that BYU had the better season.

Now, if BYU had played in the Pac-12 (where 6 teams got into the NCAA Tournament) and Utah had played in the WCC, would we still be saying that? Doubtful. I think the roles would be quite reversed.

For the record, I'm hoping BYU proves me wrong and wins today.

nategagon
Taylorsville, UT

@WSUfan,

Hey, I was just being honest that I was surprised to read that the Wildcats hadn't made the tourney since '07. I could have just looked it up and pretended to know everything.

I agree with you that the Wildcats have had a nice season and probably deserve a little more coverage than they've gotten, but let's keep it real too. They finished with an RPI of 149 and didn't beat a single team in the top 150. They had a strength of schedule of No. 262 and had a non-conference RPI of No. 231.

So, while it's great they won the Big Sky and got in the tourney as a No. 16 seed, it wasn't exactly a season to tell the grandkids about someday. I'll continue to keep my eye on the Wildcats though as you've requested. Feel free to send me any inside info you may have on great Wildcat stories, players in less-covered sports, etc.

Dr. Jones
Malibu, CA

Florida is the top ranked team right now. But UConn beat Florida, so is actually better. But Houston beat UConn, so is actually better. But UCF beat Houston, so is actually better. And so on. So, like Utah, even though UCF didn't make the tourney, they are actually better, due to head to head games played.

A person can always find a way to twist things to make any argument. (Think "lies, darn lies, and statistics.") But think a little more before you write. If BYU and Utah play ten times, five times at each court, BYU probably wins 6 or 7, Utah wins 3 or 4. One game doth not a season make. But at least the Utes have something to feel good about this season. Beating BYU seems to have become their only accomplishment in football (and now, after years of futility, basketball) over the past few years. It's kind of sad and makes me feel a little sorry for my brothers in red.

What I most enjoyed reading in this article is that Nate has kissed a girl. But seriously, making the tourney and the #10 seeding come close to eating a Reese's.

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