At the start of the men’s basketball season, this weekend’s matchup against Santa Clara was most likely not a highlighted game for the Cougars.
Now that the Broncos are sitting at 12-4, and the Cougars (12-4,2-0) need resume-building wins, both teams could add a feather in their NCAA caps with a victory Saturday.
Santa Clara is the early favorite for surprise team out of the west. Last season, the Broncos went winless in conference play, after having won only eight games all season.
They last made the NCAA tournament in 1996. Now they sit with an RPI in the 60’s, pushing for an at-large bid.
This game will be televised on Root Sports starting at 2:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, down on the hill, the Utes will have their own matchup problems.
The UCLA Bruins, long considered the top overall athletic program in the nation, will match up against the Utes for a pair of conference battles.
First, the men’s basketball team will look for their first PAC-12 win this season when they host the Bruins Thursday night.
The game starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be a blackout to support the Utes. Those not in attendance can catch the game on the PAC-12 Network.
On Saturday, the gymnastics program travels to Los Angeles. The fifth-ranked Red Rocks will open their PAC-12 campaign against the second-ranked Bruins.
Watch the tumble on the PAC-12 Network starting at 8:30 p.m.
The men are in need of an emotional boost after going on their Arizona road trip last week and failing to pick up their first PAC-12 road win.
Arizona State beat them in overtime and it took last-second heroics for fourth-ranked Arizona to stave off Utah.
UCLA (12-3, 2-0) will be a tough test for Utah. UCLA had the highest ranked recruiting class this past summer, but has failed to live up to admittedly lofty expectations. Only in the last few weeks has the Bruins pulled off quality wins.
The Bruins gymnastics program is also dealing with the high expectations of a national powerhouse, but they have performed much better in the spotlight than their basketball brothers.
UCLA started off the season with a 196.150-194.875 victory over Southern Utah.
Last season, the Bruins finished third overall in the NCAA finals.
The Red Rocks have similar expectations this year. However, this is the season opener for Utah, which dives into the meat of its schedule right off the bat.
The Utes finished fifth at the NCAA finals last year with several underclassmen leading the team. Those returning probably remember how they fell in their opener last year against UCLA by .050 points.
The winner will take the lead position in the PAC-12 race.