Utah State and Wyoming will tip off the Mountain West Tournament in the No. 8 - No. 9 matchup (11:00 A.M. PT Mountain West Network) from the Mack Center in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
Either teams only way into the NCAA Tournament is to make a Cinderella run over the weekend and grab the Automatic bid.
In their only regular season meeting, Wyoming rolled past the Utah State, 84-65, in Laramie on February 6th. Although, the score can be viewed as inflated as Wyoming hit an unimaginable 20 three-pointers that night.
The reality is that both the Cowboys and Aggies are very similar in how good they are, but, at the same time have different identities.
And don't under value the importance of having an identity at this time in March. A style of play can propel a team through a grueling stretch.
For Wyoming, they have a superstar and have guys who can shoot in from all areas on the court, and especially from three-point land. That is their identity. Everyone wants to have a superstar, particularly because possessing a superstar like Josh Adams, the 2015-16 Player of the Year in Mountain West Conference, covers up a lot of deficiencies from other members of the starting five and can solely keep you at least competitive on off nights.
Games where Adams goes off for 25 plus, compiled with solid shooting from Jason McManamen and others can be the recipe for cutting down the top trees in March.
On the other side, Utah State goes about its business by grinding you out. The Aggies scoring comes from a balance effort where all of their starting five scores nearly eight points per game. Chris Smith and Jalen Moore lead the way, each averaging over 15 points per game, while moving the offense in a pass first - take the best shot offense.
Utah State's offense relies more on practicality and efficiency than streaky shooting. Both ways can work and we will see which will come victorious in the Matinee Matchup.
Whoever wins the 8-9 matchup will get the tough task to play No. 1 seed San Diego State in the second round. The Aztecs lost only one conference game and come in heavy favorites to claim the tournament title.