Wolverines fall short of NCAA Tournament, rout No. 2 seed New Mexico in NIT debut
Reading Time: 2 minutes UVU was awarded an automatic bid to the NIT after they were defeated in the Hercules Tires WAC Tournament semi-final by SUU, ending their bid at a potential NCAA Tournament appearance.
After a disappointing loss to Southern Utah University in the Hercules Tires Western Athletic Conference Tournament semi-final, Utah Valley University’s men’s basketball team dominated in their National Invitational Tournament debut on Wednesday. The Wolverines defeated the University of New Mexico Lobos on the road 83-69.
Justin Harmon led the charge for the Wolverines with a career-high 32 points. Tim Fuller put up another double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds and Trey Woodbury was the final Wolverine to reach double-figure scoring, as he scored 10 points to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists. The win marked the Wolverines’ 26th win of the season, moving them to 26-8, the most wins in UVU men’s basketball history.
At the time of writing, the Wolverines are advancing to the second round of the NIT, facing the University of Colorado Buffaloes on Sunday, March 19. The game tips off at 7:30 p.m. MT and will air on ESPNU. Tune in to UVUreview.com or gouvu.com for final scores and team updates.
Colorado (18-16), comes into the matchup against the Wolverines fresh off a win over Seton Hall (17-15). The Buffaloes had some strong resume wins this season, however, similar to the Wolverines, fell short of an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. They defeated #11 Tennessee (23-10) 78-66 on Nov. 13, #24 Texas A&M (25-9) 103-75 on Nov. 18, and Oregon (20-14) 68-41 on Jan. 5.
UVU will have their hands full with Buffalo forward Tristan da Silva, a 6’9 German stretch-four that can shoot the three (40.6%) as well as post up down low. This is a high-octane Buffalo offense that averages 70 ppg on the season. The Wolverines will need to limit turnovers and close out on shooters in order to come out of Boulder with a win.
With as many bubble teams as there was this year for the NCAA Tournament, there is a stacked NIT field from the teams left over. Renowned power-five programs such as Villanova, Oregon, Clemson, Michigan, and Wisconsin are all amongst the field in the NIT in addition to some top teams from mid–major conferences including the likes of Sam Houston State University, Liberty University, Hofstra University, and the University of Alabama Birmingham. In a star-studded field of play, the Wolverines still have an opportunity to make waves in the NCAA outside of the tournament.
The Wolverines finished the regular season with the best record in the WAC, clinching the WAC regular season championship on March 1 in their matchup vs. the University of Texas Arlington, thus they earned an automatic bid into the NIT. On their side of the bracket are No. 1 seeds Clemson and Rutgers, both of whom were upset in their first-round matchups. The Wolverines cruised past the No. 2 seeded NMU Lobos, and should the Wolverines win their matchup against Colorado Sunday, they will advance to play the winner of Colonial Athletic Association regular-season champion Hofstra and the No. 4 seed Cincinnati Bearkats in the NIT Quarterfinal.
Included below is a picture of the NIT bracket as of March 16. Tune into UVUreview.com for current updates.