Utah: The Last Hope for Western Hoops
The basketball season has pretty much set in the west with Gonzaga and Nevada dropping from the NCAA tournament. The lone western team still alive is Utah in the NIT.
The Pac-12 was one and done in the NCAA but Utah found new life in the NIT and has made it all the way to New York for the semifinals next week in Madison Square Garden.
Utah will play Western Kentucky followed by Penn State-Mississippi State on Tuesday with the winners colliding for the NIT crown next Wednesday.
The NCAA is another story, Despite being favored both Gonzaga and Nevada lost in the NCAA Sweet 16.
Gonzaga lost 75-60 to Kansas State, a team that continues to baffle basketball pundits. Granted the Zag's were down a big man in Tilley but doesn't explain away the 15pt losing margin.
Nevada vs. Loyola of Chicago is another brain teaser. Did the Pack really just lose to a team Boise State spanked by 34 points back in November? Yes they did! 69-68.
I know that Loyola has a 98-year-old nun Sister Jean on their side but last night she didn't score a single point, except with the TV cameras.
Obviously, you have to credit Nevada for making a run into the Sweet 16 and what that means for the Mountain West but the road to the Elite 8 was pretty much paved for the Pack and they created self-imposed speed bumps.
So now we sit back and wait to see if Gonzaga jumps ship from the WCC to the Mountain West and if BYU decides to come along for the ride. I did see Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson on press row last night in Los Angeles watching Gonzaga which I thought was interesting, possibly to the point of confirming Gonzaga is serious about the Mountain West move.
This could be shaping up as an exciting offseason for Mountain West basketball.