SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State came out victorious in a slug-it-out Mountain West Tournament quarterfinal matchup with New Mexico on Thursday night in Las Vegas, as the Aggies won 91-83.
That should help USU fans breathe a little easier, as the team moves on to face Fresno State in the MW semifinals while keeping the dream of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 alive and well.
"The Aggies are in all probability playing to improve their seed at this point, but you can't look like you're just playing to improve your seed. In the Mountain West quarterfinals, New Mexico gave USU a game before falling 91-83. Let's have no more of that, Utah State," ESPN's John Gasaway wrote in his latest Bubble Watch released Friday morning.
College basketball expert Andy Katz shared his thoughts on USU and Nevada, the league's two teams projected to make the NCAA field, having close calls in their MW Tournament openers.
"Utah State got a scare from New Mexico and Nevada got one from Boise State. They both win. Nevada was going to get in (to the NCAAs) regardless but their seeding would have certainly taken a hit if they lost to Boise State. Utah State I think will be in now, but a loss to New Mexico possibly could have left them sweating as well on Selection Sunday," Katz said in a video on Twitter.
As for bracketology projections, here's where Utah State stands following Thursday's action:
- ESPN continues to project the Aggies as a No. 9 seed playing in Salt Lake City at Vivint Arena in the West Region, with No. 8 Washington out of the Pac-12 as their first-round opponent.
- Sports Illustrated has USU as a No. 10 seed playing No. 7 Iowa State of the Big 12 in the East Region in the first round.
- CBS Sports has the Aggies as a No. 8 seed playing No. 9 Syracuse in the first round in the South Region, with first- and second-round games in Columbus, Ohio.
How to watch the semifinals
Four Utah teams remain in the hunt for an automatic NCAA Tournament berth, after Weber State, Southern Utah, Utah Valley and Utah State won their respective conference tournament quarterfinal games Thursday. Utah was the lone local team to fall, losing to Oregon 66-54.
Here's a breakdown of how to tune in for each of the four remaining teams in today's conference tournament semifinal play:
Weber State vs. Montana, Big Sky Tournament
- Today, 5:30 p.m. MT, CenturyLink Arena (Boise, Idaho)
- Watch it: Pluto TV, Eleven Sports
- Listen: 1430 AM
Southern Utah vs. Eastern Washington, Big Sky Tournament
- Today, 8 p.m., CenturyLink Arena (Boise)
- Watch it: Pluto TV, Eleven Sports
Utah State vs. Fresno State, MW Tournament
- Today, 9:30 p.m., Thomas & Mack Center (Las Vegas)
- Watch it: CBS Sports Network
- Listen: 1280 AM, 92.3 FM
UVU vs. Grand Canyon, WAC Tournament
- Today, 9:30 p.m., Orleans Arena (Las Vegas)
- Watch it: ESPN Plus
- Listen: 960 AM
BYU's postseason hopes
Even though the Cougars lost to San Diego last Saturday in the West Coast Conference quarterfinals, they are still projected to make the field in the latest NIT bracketology from one media source.
Twitter user John Templon, who writes for SB Nation and previously ran his own site breaking down NIT projections, unveiled his latest bracketology Thursday night and included BYU as a No. 7 seed. UVU also made the field as a No. 7 seed.
Templon also said to pay attention to the Pac-12 for any potential teams that could knock either BYU or UVU out of the NIT mix.
Colorado beat Oregon State 73-58 in the Pac-12 quarterfinals Thursday. The Buffaloes will face top seed Washington in the Pac-12 semifinals at 5 p.m. today.
And finally ...
Tim Miles and his Nebraska team are trying to trip up any NCAA Tournament bubble hopefuls, as his Cornhuskers have advanced to the Big Ten quarterfinals as the No. 13 seed following wins over No. 12 Rutgers and No. 5 Maryland.
Miles fell as he exited through the tunnel at the United Center following Nebraska's win over Rutgers on Wednesday, a moment captured by cameras.
The next day, though, he made sure to avoid a second mishap.