UVU left out in the cold?

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The Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment group, ownership group of the NBA’s Utah Jazz, announced on July 21 that they will be hosting an annual in-state men’s basketball invitational event at Vivint Smart Home Arena starting in December 2017, dubbed the Beehive Classic. The event is currently on a three-year contract running through 2019 with the participants being Brigham Young University, University of Utah, Utah State University and Weber State University. The event will be an annual doubleheader with the teams rotating to match up once each before the end of the current contract.

The possibility of an in-state event like the Beehive Classic is something that has been kicked around for some time now. We even detailed the argument for it here. What wasn’t expected, however, was that Utah Valley University would be the only Division I men’s basketball program in northern Utah to not get an invite.

“Many variables were discussed before arriving at the annual round-robin doubleheader format with four teams,” said Frank Zang, Senior Vice President of Communications for Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment. “We believe it is important to walk before you can run when introducing a start-up event.”

Despite being left out of the Beehive Classic, UVU isn’t getting the cold shoulder from the state overall. They do have matchups scheduled with each invited team in the 2016-17 season. It will be on head coach Mark Pope and the players to prove that they belong on the same court during these individual games. Perhaps the news of their in-state opponents gathering for an invitational without them will provide just an extra tinge of motivation.

UVU has also matched up with these opponents in the past. In fact, UVU and BYU announced just last year that they entered an agreement to play annually through 2018. The Wolverines also prevailed over Weber State last season in double overtime. It was inarguably the most thrilling victory of the season for UVU.

It’s not out of the question for the Beehive Classic to expand in the future, if it is met with great success.

“We will evaluate the response and experience of the participants before determining the future course of the Beehive Classic,” said Zang in regards to possible future expansion of the event to include other Utah colleges.

Whatever the reasoning, it is disappointing that the Wolverines were left out of the in-state extravaganza. However, if UVU can make some waves in their individual in-state matchups throughout the upcoming season, perhaps some eyebrows will be raised when the 2017 Beehive Classic comes around and the team in green isn’t on the court.