Utah State will face TCU in NCAA Tournament

Utah State will face TCU in NCAA Tournament

LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – After winning its first outright Mountain West Conference regular season title, the Utah State basketball team is headed to the NCAA Tournament as an 8-seed in Midwest region.

The Aggies will play #9 seed TCU (21-12) on Friday in Indianapolis AT 7:55 p.m. MT.

Utah State has qualified for the NCAA Tournament five times in the last six years, but has not won a game in the Big Dance since 2001.

“So happy for this team and so, so glad that we were able to play in the tournament,” said USU guard Darius Brown. “A lot of these guys, you know, it’s going to be the first time playing in the tournament and, you know, we’re going to win. That’s what we want to do, and that’s been the goal this whole year to go to the NCAA tournament.”

Utah State (27-6) is 2-0 all-time against TCU, with the last matchup coming in 1982. The Horned Frogs come into the Tournament having lost four of its last six games, including a loss to Houston in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals.

USU loses to San Diego State in Mountain West semis

The Aggies had won six straight games before losing to San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference Tournament Semifinals.

The 8-seed matches the highest seed Utah State has ever had, joining the 2019 team that lost in the first round to Washington.

Utah State is 6-24 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and have lost 10 straight games in the Big Dance.

Utah State has played in the NCAA Tournament 15 previous times since seedings started in 1980. Overall, USU has been listed as an eighth seed twice (2019, 2024), a 10th seed three times (1983, 1988, 2023), an 11th seed three times (1980, 2009, 2021), a 12th seed six times (1998, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2010, 2011), a 14th seed once (2005) and a 15th seed once (2003).

“It doesn’t matter what seed you are, you’ve got to go play a tremendous opponent,” said head coach Danny Sprinkle. “I know our league represented very well. The schedule we played especially the Mountain West schedule, it prepares you for the NCAA tournament. From the physical standpoint, from seeing every type of style that we’re going to encounter, and so I think that will hopefully help prepare us.”

Utah State won its first outright Mountain West regular season championship this year in its 11th season in the conference. USU also shared the regular season title in 2019. USU enters the NCAA Tournament with an 8-2 record in its last 10 games after losing to San Diego State (86-70) in the semifinals of the MW Championship, snapping the Aggies six-game winning streak.

Entering the NCAA Tournament, Utah State has an NCAA Men’s Basketball NET Ranking of 38, an overall strength of schedule of 89, 13 wins away from home with an 8-4 road record and a 5-1 mark on neutral courts, and a 4-5 record against Quad 1 teams with two wins against Boise State, along with wins against New Mexico and San Diego State. USU also has a 4-1 record against Quad 2 opponents, a 7-0 record against Quad 3 opponents, and a 10-0 record against Quad 4 opponents.

This will be the first time that Utah State and TCU will be playing one another in the NCAA Tournament. Overall, it will be the third meeting in series history as USU posted an 87-61 road win during the 1960-61 season and an 84-59 home win on Dec. 29, 1982.

TCU is 21-12 on the season and tied for seventh in the Big 12 Conference after posting a 9-9 league mark. The Horned Frogs, who are 9-8 away from home this season, have lost four of their last six games heading into the NCAA Tournament and lost to No. 1 Houston 60-45 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament. TCU is led by senior forward Emanuel Miller, who is averaging 15.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, while senior guard Jameer Nelson Jr., is averaging 11.3 points and senior guard Micah Peavy is averaging 11.1 points per game.

This will be the sixth time that Utah State has played a team from the Big 12 in the NCAA Tournament and first time since it lost to sixth-seeded Texas Tech (65-53) in the first round.

Utah State has four players on its current roster with NCAA Tournament experience in Osobor, Brown, Martinez and graduate wing Max Agbonkpolo. Martinez played in two games in the 2023 NCAA Tournament while at Maryland as he scored seven points and had three rebounds against No. 1 seed Alabama in the round of 32 and did not score in the first round against West Virginia. Osobor played in two NCAA Tournaments at Montana State. In 2023 against third-seeded Kansas State, he started and had 11 points, seven rebounds, three blocks, two steals and one assist in 35 minutes. Against third-seeded Texas Tech in 2022, he had four points, four rebounds and one steal in 19 minutes off the bench. Brown played in the 2023 NCAA Tournament at Montana State against third-seeded Kansas State and had 12 points, nine assists and three rebounds in 35 minutes as he started the game. And Agbonkpolo, who is our for the season with an injury, played in five NCAA Tournament games during his time at USC.

The winner of the Utah State-TCU game will play the winner of one-seeded Purdue and the play-in game between 16-seeds Montana State and Grambling State on Sunday, March 23.

Game times have not yet been announced.

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