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Last-second impressions for BYU, other Utah hoop teams
Mar 04, 2013 | 1395 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Cougars have one last chance to get the NCAA-building resume they need tonight as Gonzaga visits the Marriott Center for a nationally televised battle between the two WCC rivals.

Gonzaga will be the highest-ranked team to visit the Marriott Center, having reached second in both the AP and Coaches polls. The team proved deserving of the high rank, having remained undefeated in conference play and dropping only two contests all season. All time at the Marriott Center, the Cougars are 1-5 against top ten teams, their only win having been over San Diego State in 2009 when the Cougars were ranked ninth in the country.

The Zags have torn through the WCC this season, their average margin of victory sitting just under 20 points per game. However, on the road they have proved vulnerable, barely edging out Santa Clara and San Diego. Gonzaga’s two games last week were at home against these same teams however, and the Zags torched the two, combining to outscore them by 74 points. BYU felt their wrath in the last matchup in Spokane, losing by 20 points in a humiliating 83-63 loss.

The Cougars have yet to put a complete game together against the top competition this season. This will be the last shot for senior Brandon Davies, who, barring an invitation to the NIT, will play his final home game for BYU. Davies and sophomore Tyler Haws have yet to dominate against the top teams on their schedule.

If both have a solid performance, the Cougars could give Gonzaga its first loss in WCC play. The conference tournament begins next week, and the Cougars will enter the Las Vegas based tournament as either the third or fourth seed. A win against Gonzaga tonight or at Portland Saturday will put them in the third seed, earning a bye until the third round and avoiding Gonzaga until the championship game.

Utah State is also fighting for position for the WAC tournament, which will also be played in Las Vegas. The Aggies are tied with UT-Arlington heading into the final two weeks. The Aggies can earn the tiebreaker from the Mavericks when they travel to Arlington this Saturday. Before they get there, they will face a Louisiana Tech team that is making its first appearance in the polls since Karl Malone played for them back in 1984.

Its final WAC season has been full of ups and downs, but Utah State can still make a run at an NCAA bid by winning the tournament. The Aggies, barring a collapse by either New Mexico State or Denver in the final two weeks, will be slotted in the four vs. five matchup in the WAC quarterfinals against Arlington. After their road trip this week, the Aggies return home for their final two games before the postseason.

Weber State also wraps up its Big Sky season this week. The Wildcats will be favored in their final four games this season, and winning these games will give them a chance to host the Big Sky tournament and earn a guaranteed bid to, at least, the NIT tournament.

Montana, with which Weber State split its season series, is one game ahead of the Wildcats in the race for the regular season championship. However, if the Grizzlies lose, the tiebreaker could go to Weber State.

Montana will face the same Montana State team as will as higher-standing teams Southern Utah and Sacramento State. Should Montana fall to Montana State, Weber State would win the tiebreaker due to a slightly higher RPI rating.

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