The Bracketology Report: Utah State

Updated: January 21, 2004, 4:16 PM ET
By Charlie Creme | Insider Bracketologist

Editor's note: Each week Bracketology Insider will take an in-depth look at teams headed for the NCAA Tournament ... or not.

Week in review
Two more Utah State (No. 33 RPI, No. 176 SOS) opponents were held under 60 points last week, as the Aggies posted wins over Pacific (No. 118 RPI, No. 127 SOS) and Cal State-Northridge (No. 225 RPI, No. 207 SOS).

Utah State jumped on Northridge with a 21-4 run to start Saturday's game, then used a huge rebound margin (49-28) to keep the Matadors out of it. Senior Cardell Butler led the way with 18 points.

Two nights earlier the Aggies essentially swallowed up the offense of Pacific, which entered the game unbeaten in Big West play. The Tigers made just two field goals in the first half and shot 29 percent for the game. The margin was never closer than 12 points in the second half.

Coming up
The Aggies are rolling with 11 straight home wins. Unfortunately, both contests this week are away from Logan. Utah State embarks on a California road trip, visiting Cal State-Fullerton (No. 273 RPI, No. 271 SOS) on Thursday and UC Riverside (No. 224 RPI, No. 235 SOS) on Saturday.

This trip came in late February a year ago, and UC Riverside stunned the Aggies on the back end, 72-65, Utah State's worst loss of the season. It also marked the first win in six tries for the Highlanders over the Aggies.

Utah State swept three games against Fullerton in 2003, but the last of those meetings was harrowing -- an 89-83 overtime win in the Big West tournament quarterfinals.

"Planting seeds"
The Aggies are No. 43 this week on The Bracketology Report national seeding chart. This makes Utah State a No. 11 seed, good enough for a projected at-large bid if not for leading the current Big West standings.

In what has become Utah State's calling card under coach Stew Morrill, the Aggies continue to win with defense, holding opponents to 42 percent shooting and just under 60 points per game. Because of numbers like those, Utah State is never really out of a game (or, for that matter, blown out).

A 12-1 record and a No. 31 RPI are impressive. The Aggies have control of the former, but not of the later. No matter what they do the rest of the way, that RPI rank is never going to look as good as it does right now. For Utah State, it simply comes down winning as much as it can (the more impressively the better, too) in the Big West.

So far, so good.

Games of the Week
Utah State fans should root FOR and AGAINST the teams in ALL CAPS.
For MINNESOTA @ Purdue (Wed.)
UTAH @ New Mexico (Sat.)
Against DePaul @ MARQUETTE (Sat.)
Virginia @ NORTH CAROLINA (Sat.)

Inside the Numbers
Additional considerations for the NCAA Selection Committee include:
"Good" wins
(vs. RPI 1-25) NONE
(vs. RPI 26-50) BYU
(vs. RPI 51-100) @Santa Barbar
"Bad" losses
(vs. RPI 101-150) NONE
(vs. RPI sub-150) NONE
Record vs. projected field (1-1)
Win: BYU
Loss: Utah
Record vs. at-large pool (0-0)
Loss: NONE
Reason(s) to INCLUDE Utah State
  • 4-1 road/neutral record
  • 10-0 last 10
  • Reason(s) to EXCLUDE Utah State
  • No. 152 SOS
  • Only two opponents in RPI Top 100
  • Season breakdown (12-1, 5-0)
    All RPI data through Sunday, Jan. 18

    Date      Opponent            Result     Opp.RPI    Opp.SOS
    11/21     Fort Lewis (non-DI) 86-54       n/a        n/a
    11/25     @Weber State        66-60       164        121
    11/29     Illinois State      89-84       206        44

    12/3 @Utah 45-56 (L) 28 63 12/13 @Idaho State 73-62 209 126 12/18 Jackson State 67-42 256 278 12/23 BYU 76-74 36 40 12/29 San Francisco 74-48 119 97 12/30 New Mexico State 73-57 205 198

    1/3 Idaho 69-56 228 57 1/8 @Santa Barbara 74-67 98 107 1/10 @Cal Poly 69-63 184 181 1/15 Pacific 66-51 118 127 1/17 CS-Northridge 83-57 225 207 1/22 @CS-Fullerton 273 271 1/24 @UC Riverside 224 235 1/29 UC Irvine 171 214 1/31 Long Beach State 282 244

    2/5 Cal Poly 184 181 2/7 Santa Barbara 98 107 2/12 @CS-Northridge 225 207 2/14 @Pacific 118 127 2/19 UC Riverside 224 235 2/21 CS-Fullerton 273 271 2/26 @Long Beach State 282 244 2/28 @UC Irvine 171 214 3/5 @Idaho 228 57 3/11 BIG WEST TOURNAMENT

    Joe Lunardi's forecast (Jan. 21)
    Chance of NCAA top seed: 0 percent
    Chance of NCAA "protected" (1-4) seed: 0 percent
    Chance of NCAA bid: 60 percent
    Chance of NCAA at-large bid: 40 percent
    Chance of NIT bid: 35 percent
    Chance of missing post-season: 5 percent

    Charlie Creme projects the women's NCAA tournament bracket for