The University of Utah athletic department made a splash announcing the hiring of former National Coach of the Year Dennis Erickson to be the co-offensive coordinator of the football program.
It proved to be the distraction from the basketball program the Utes needed.
Erickson’s hiring grabbed the headlines away from a Utah hoops program, which sits at the bottom of the PAC-12 standings, tied with Oregon State and Washington State. Each school has two wins each. Despite improving the overall program, the Utes still have a ways to go, as they showed last week when they were close to upsetting No. 19 Oregon Saturday. The team fell after having a six-point lead halfway through the second half.
This Saturday, the Utes have another shot at a top ranked team. Arizona, currently ranked ninth in both major polls, will visit the Huntsman Center. The game starts at 1 p.m. and can be seen on the PAC-12 Network.
BYU could use a similar distraction this weekend. The team’s hopes for an at-large bid took a huge hit after it lost to San Francisco Saturday. The loss was the second straight and the fourth overall in conference play, and all but guaranteed the Cougars will need to win the West Coast Conference tournament and gain the automatic bid to go to the NCAA tournament.
This week, the team will take some time off to regroup before hosting Portland Saturday night. It will also make up an earlier postponed game against the Utah State Aggies on Tuesday.
The Aggies, an early favorite for the WAC before injuries decimated their team, have won their last three games after dropping four straight following the injuries to Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed. They will have a difficult time catching Louisiana Tech, which sits four games behind the Bulldogs, but can set themselves up to make a run at the WAC title.
This week the Aggies can get revenge against two teams that dropped them during their losing streak. Denver will visit Logan tonight before New Mexico State arrives on Saturday. Utah State is looking up at both teams in the WAC standings. Both teams are two games up on the Aggies.
Weber State also looks to make up ground this week when it hosts Montana tonight. The Wildcats dropped two games in their road trip to Montana a few weeks back, yet still sit in second place overall in the Big Sky. Montana, which is undefeated in Big Sky play, sits two games up on the Wildcats.
After tonight’s game, the Wildcats can pay back Montana State for their other conference loss on Saturday night.
Both Utah State and Weber State announced their ESPN Bracketbusters matchups for next week’s annual event.
This year’s version will have Weber State traveling to Tulsa, Okla. to face Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles are third in the Southland Conference.
The Aggies will play against Illinois State, which sits in the middle of the Missouri Valley Conference.