Luke Nevill and the Runnin' Utes begin the 2009 MWC Tournament Thursday at 6 p.m. PT against No. 7 seed TCU.
March 10, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY -The Mountain West Conference regular-season co-champion University of Utah men's basketball team (21-9, 12-4 MWC) heads to Las Vegas, Nev., this week for the 2009 Conoco MWC Basketball Championship, March 11-14 at the Thomas & Mack Center (18,500). The Utes come into the tournament as the No. 2 seed behind co-champion BYU (24-6, 12-4 MWC), who earned the No. 1 seed via tiebreakers. Co-champion New Mexico (21-10, 12-4 MWC) is the No. 3 seed.
Utah is led by senior center Luke Nevill (Perth, Australia), the MWC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Nevill averages 16.9 points per game to go along with a league-leading 8.9 rebounds and 2.73 blocks per contest. Nevill also led the league in MWC Player of the Week selections this year, receiving the award five times.
The Runnin' Utes will take on No. 7 seed TCU in the quarterfinal round Thursday at 6 p.m. PT.
MWC Men's Basketball Championship Ticket Information
All-session and single-session tickets for the 2009 Conoco Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Championship are now on sale at the Thomas & Mack Center box office, online at www.UNLVTickets.com or by calling 1-866-388-3267. The Thomas & Mack Center box office will be open Monday, March 9 at 10 a.m. PT.
The entire 2009 MWC Men's Basketball Championship will be broadcast in High Definition (HD) on a combination of The Mtn. (DirecTV 616, Comcast 37 in Salt Lake City), CBS College Sports (DirecTV 613, Comcast 269 in SLC) and VERSUS (DirecTV 603, Comcast 34 in SLC).
Wednesday's first-round game between No. 8 seed Colorado State and No. 9 seed Air Force will be televised by The Mtn. All four of Thursday's quarterfinal games will be simulcast by The Mtn. and CBSC. Friday's semifinal games will both be carried on CBSC and Saturday's championship game will be televised by VERSUS.
All of the Utes' games at the MWC Tournament will be broadcast live on KALL 700 AM in Salt Lake City and at www.kall700sports.com. Play-by-play will be delivered by Mike Lageschulte. Jimmy Soto will provide color analysis.
Fans can follow all of the action from this year's tournament at www.themwc.com, where they will find live stats, updated brackets, postgame press conference videos and more.
MWC Men's Basketball Championship Notes
-The MWC Championship has produced six different champions in its nine-year history. UNLV (2000, 2007, 2008) and San Diego State (2002, 2006) are the only teams to have won multiple titles, followed by BYU (2001), Colorado State (2003), Utah (2004) and New Mexico (2005) with one apiece.
-The No. 1 seed has won the tournament just twice in nine years. UNLV entered the inaugural MWC Tournament as the top seed in 2000 and won the title. In 2006, San Diego State became the second No. 1 seed to claim the crown.
-The No. 2 seed (BYU, New Mexico, UNLV), No. 3 seed (Utah), No. 5 seed (San Diego State) and No. 6 seed (Colorado State) have captured tournament championships, while the No. 4 seed is 0-3 and the No. 7 seed is 0-1 in title games. The No. 8 seed and No. 9 seeds have yet to appear in the championship game.
-The Mountain West Conference regular-season champion has made it to the finals of the tournament six times in nine years (UNLV in 2000; BYU in 2001, 2007 and 2008; Utah in 2005 and San Diego State in 2006), winning the championship three times. San Diego State is the only team to win both an outright regular-season title and the tournament crown in the same year.
MWC Quarterfinals Preview:
No. 2 Utah vs. No. 7 TCU
The Utes take on No. 7 seed TCU (14-16, 5-11 MWC) for the second time in six days as they square off in the quarterfinals at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The victor will advance to the semifinals to face the winner of No. 3 New Mexico and No. 6 Wyoming.
Utah holds an 11-4 edge in the all-time series against the Horned Frogs, including a sweep of this year's regular-season games. The Utes topped TCU in Fort Worth, Texas on Feb. 4, 62-54. Utah then clinched its share of the MWC Championship with a 68-49 victory over the Frogs in Salt Lake City on Senior Day, March 7.
Utah and TCU have met just once on a neutral floor as Utah earned an 89-68 victory in Las Vegas to capture the 1997 WAC Tournament championship. That game also marks the only previous postseason meeting between the two squads.
TCU's leading scorer is senior forward Kevin Langford (14.2 ppg) while junior center Zvonko Buljan is the Frogs' top rebounder at 7.9 boards per contest. Head coach Jim Christian has led TCU to a 14-16 record in in his first year at the helm.
Cumulative team leaders (including ties) from their two regular-season meetings: Utah TCU Points Green (28) Langford (34) Rebounds Nevill (21) Buljan/Langford (11) Assists Brown (12) Ebie (6) Blocks Nevill (3) none Steals Drca/Green (3) Langford/Mitchem (3)
MWC Semifinals Preview:
vs. No. 3 New Mexico
If the Utes advance past TCU, they could face No. 3 New Mexico (21-10, 12-4 MWC) in the semifinals.
Utah holds a 78-46 advantage in the all-time series against New Mexico. The two teams split the season series 1-1 this year, each successfully defending on their home floor. Utah won a 69-68 contest in Salt Lake City on Jan. 31, but fell at The Pit, 77-71, on March 3.
The Utes and Lobos have met in conference tournament play eight times, three in the MWC and five in the WAC, splitting the series at 4-4. A Utah-New Mexico matchup has decided the conference tournament champion twice, once in each league, with UNM winning both.
Utah owns a 3-2 edge over the Lobos in neutral-site games, including a 3-1 mark in Las Vegas. Utah won the last neutral-court contest, an 82-80 overtime thriller, in last year's quarterfinals at the Thomas & Mack Center.
UNM's leading scorer is senior forward Tony Danridge (15.2 ppg) while senior forward Daniel Faris and junior forward Roman Martinez lead the Lobos in rebounding at 6.3 boards per contest each. Steve Alford holds a 39-17 record in two seasons as the Lobos' head coach.
Cumulative team leaders (including ties) from their two regular-season meetings: Utah New Mexico Points Nevill (27) Danridge (38) Rebounds Nevill (11) Faris (18) Assists Brown/Green (8) Danridge (9) Blocks Nevill (8) Faris (2) Steals Drca/Brown (3) Danridge/Faris (4)MWC Semifinals Preview:
Utah leads the all-time series against Wyoming, including a sweep of this year's regular-season games. The Utes topped the Cowboys in Salt Lake City in the conference-opener, 91-67. Utah followed up with an 80-70 victory in Laramie on Feb. 7.
Wyoming holds a 3-2 edge in neutral-site games. The Utes and Cowboys have met in conference tournament play four times, but only once as members of the MWC. Wyoming won that contest, 60-47, in Denver, Colo., in 2006.
They faced off three other times in the WAC tournament, once at a neutral site (Albuquerque, N.M.) and once each on their respective home floors. Utah was victorious in both of the partisan contests, but lost the neutral site game.
Wyoming's leading scorer is senior guard Brandon Ewing, who also tops the MWC with (18.6 ppg). Senior forward Tyson Johnson is their leading rebounder at 7.6 boards per contest. Head coach Heath Schroyer is now 30-30 in two seasons at the helm for the Cowboys.
Cumulative team leaders (including ties) from their two regular-season meetings: Utah Wyoming Points Nevill (44) Ewing (44) Rebounds Nevill (25) Muojeke (11) Assists Brown (13) Ewing (5) Blocks Nevill (7) Dermody (2) Steals Kepkay (3) four players (2)