PORTLAND STATE at SOUTHERN UTAH, 9:00 PM Eastern, No TV
On November 8, 2013, in their very first game of the season, the Southern Utah Thunderbirds defeated non-D1 Southwestern Arizona 85-78. While they have had a few close games since then, that was the last time that SUU won a game. They are 1-22 overall, 0-22 against Division 1, and 0-14 in the Big Sky Conference. With the Big Sky only taking the top seven teams in its regular season standings into the conference tournament, Southern Utah has already been mathematically eliminated from being able to even tie for the #7 seed. They are one of only four teams that remain winless in conference play (joining TCU, Illinois-Chicago and The Citadel). And they are one of 14 teams that has been eliminated form contention for the NCAA championship this season (joining the six transitional teams, five teams on APR postseason ban, Cornell and NJIT).
Tonight, Southern Utah hosts the Portland State Vikings. Portland State enters tonight’s game at 6-8 in the Big Sky and 11-12 overall. The Vikings are in 10th place in the Big Sky standings but only one game behind a five way tie for the final spots in the Big Sky tournament field. Tonight’s game is clearly SUU’s best chance for a win this season. After tonight they have three more home games left and two road games, though KenPom does not give the Thunderbirds a better than 20% chance to win any of those. Tonight, they have a 26% chance to win.
Even though Southern Utah has been eliminated from postseason play, they do still have a lot left to play for. As has been mentioned several times, HoopsHD annually awards the Centenary Award to the worst team in Division I. With Grambling having picked up their second Division I win of the season earlier this week — and a true road win nonetheless — the award is now clearly Southern Utah’s to lose..er win. However, if they can find a way to win tonight or in any of their remaining games, the award may not head to Cedar City, Utah. Tonight’s game will go a long way to making that final decision.