The Utah Utes earned a bid to the inaugural College Basketball Invitational.
Don Haskins Center 7:05 PM MT TV: PPV
Half of the first round games are on the Fox College Sports and this is not one of those, but it is available on PPV for a good deal of $6.99 per game$12.95 per 24 hours or a flat fee of $29.95 for the whole tournament. Now on to the game, these schools are old WAC rivals and they last meet in the 2005 NCAA tournament where Utah defeated the Miners on their way to a sweet 16 run. This UTEP team finished 8-8 in mediocre C-USA which in my opinion is slightly less overall in a competitive standpoint. UTEP does have one of the nations leading scorers in Stefon Jackson who averages 23.7 per game, so we will see who draws this assignment for Utah. Utah does have one of the best defensives in the nation and even beyond Jackson UTEP as a team can score as they average 77 points per game. At home UTEP has a record of 14-2 which is quite stellar and should play into the Miners advantage because Utah on the road this year was a subpar 4-10. Utah does have players in Senior Johnnie Bryant and also big man Luke Nevill who lead this team. As these two players go so does the team and the Utes will need a big game from both of these players to win in tricky El Paso. These teams have quite a few common opponents, and that is partly do to the old WAC that these teams use to belong to. The common opponents are UNLV, Wyoming, and New Mexico and UTEP went 1-2 against these teams. These two teams are heading in somewhat opposite directions they both first started the season doing well and then Utah lost 6 of 7 down the stretch and UTEP pulled things together to win two games to make it to the C-USA semis and nearly knocked off Tulsa in that game. The home court will be huge for UTEP and they need to take advantage of this to win this game. Utah has shown this year to struggle on the road but have only 3 loses by 10 or more points and those were just free throws at the end to boos the lead. Utah has not been to the post season in a few years and Johnnie Bryant was on that sweet 16 run for the Utes and the others should be excited to still be playing, but that may not be enough for Utah to overcome the steep home court advantage UTEP has.