With BYU failing to get an at-large bid and Weber State missing out on the Big Sky automatic bid, the state of Utah is without an NCAA tournament team for the first time since 1989. But it does not mean post season play is over for either school.
BYU accepted a bid to play in the NIT tournament and opened play Tuesday night against Washington while Weber State accepted a bid to the Collegeinsider.com Tournament and hosted Cal Poly Wednesday.
BYU received a 3 seed in the NIT, allowing them to host the first round match against the Huskies. Should BYU advance, they would face the winner of 2 seed Tennessee or 7 seed Mercer. No set date is announced for second round games due to determining a host school. A second round match up will be played between the March 21 and March 25, while third round games will be played March 26-27.
The NIT semifinals and finals are held April 2- 4 in Madison Square Garden. The Cougars would make their second trip to New York this season should they reach the finals, playing in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic earlier this season.
Weber State’s schedule is more up in the air. Because the CIT follows the old NIT format, all schools are reseeded after each round. Should Weber State defeat Cal Poly, they do not know their next opponent, and the play dates fall between March 22 and March 24.
This will be the second consecutive year the Wildcats play in the CIT. Last season, Damian Lillard led the Wildcats to the second round, where they lost to Loyola Marymount in overtime. The CIT favors teams from the mid-major schools, only having two schools invited whose conference RPI rank is in the top 10: Air Force (Mountain West) and Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley). Out of all the schools invited, Weber State (24-6) has the best record, and is one of two schools with fewer than 10 losses on the season, the other being Eastern Kentucky (24-9).
While BYU and Weber will test their luck in the tournaments, all Utah schools turn their attention to the start of the spring schedule. Baseball and softball have already started, and all schools are showing signs of improvement over the previous year.
Utah began their second PAC-12 baseball campaign with an 8-9 record after dropping a three-game series to California last weekend. The Utes try to get back on track this weekend visiting preseason favorite Stanford. The Cardinals boast the nation’s top pitching prospect in Mark Appel, who earlier this season struck out 15 batters in a loss to UNLV. The series starts Friday, and fans can find audio on Utah’s athletic website.
BYU baseball started out strong, taking one out of two games against second raked LSU and winning their series against 21- ranked UC Irvine. However, the Cougars have dropped their last five contests, including a sweep at the hands of conference rival San Diego and a Monday game at UNLV. The losing streak dropped the Cougars to 9-11 on the year.
This week the Cougars start a four game series against Kansas opening Wednesday. Thursday through Saturday’s games will all be available on BYUtv.
Women’s softball is near the middle of their season as well. Utah State (5-22) and Weber State (2-20) are both looking for success the second half of the season. Weber State opens conference play this weekend against North Dakota while the Aggies kick off conference play traveling to San Jose State.
Utah and BYU both fared much better than their sister teams. Utah sits at 13-10-1, and will travel to California this weekend for a three game series. BYU (9-15) will travel south and west to San Diego and face the Toreros this weekend in the West Coast Conference opener.