NEW MEXICO STATE at UTAH VALLEY, 9:00 PM Eastern, UVU-TV
Tonight is one of those nights. One of those nights that the SCGD could go almost anywhere. Huge battles for first place loom in some of our favorite conferences. There is a showdown between Vermont and Stony Brook in the America East, with the winner having the inside track on the #1 seed in the conference tournament and a chance to host the conference tournament championship game. In the Big West, UC-Irvine and UC-Santa Barbara will be renewing their rivalry with first place on the line. However, when there is meaningful basketball being played in Orem, Utah this late in the season, the SCGD just cannot pass it up. Tonight’s game is the battle for first place in the WAC between New Mexico State and Utah Valley University.
New Mexico State enters tonight’s game with a record of 10-3 in conference and 21-8 overall. They have a top 100 RPI, BPI and KenPom rating and their resume includes a road win over their in-state rivals, New Mexico. However, conferences losses at Idaho, UMKC, and Chicago State have left them in a fight for the regular season title in a conference they were supposed to dominate this season. Tonight’s trip to Utah Valley will be their toughest WAC game of the season, and a loss here could cost them a shot at the regular season crown.
Utah Valley enters the game tied for first place at 10-3 in conference and 16-10 overall. Their RPI is at 166, BPI 194 and KenPom 212. Their best win of the season so far was a home win back in December over Weber State. However, they have been rolling through their conference just like they did back in the old Great West Conference days, with only a blowout loss at New Mexico State and a questionable home loss to Seattle to mar them. Tonight, however, the Wolverines can move into the driver’s seat for their first ever WAC regular season championship if they can avenge that earlier loss and find a way to defeat the Aggies. UVU has never been in the NCAA tournament — in fact, this is their first year i a conference with an automatic bid. And if that bid is going to happen, it may all start with a win tonight.