Heading into last Saturday’s ESPN BracketBuster matchup with Saint Mary’s, Utah State had a lot to prove to the national media. Bracketologists and pundits from around the country were questioning the validity of the Aggies record, which now stands at 25-3, and pointing out that they had zero wins against a team in the Top 100 in the RPI.
After dispatching the Gaels 75-65, the Aggies now have a win against the No. 46 team in the RPI — on the road no less — and Utah State’s RPI has jumped up to 18th.
Does that mean that Utah State is a lock for the NCAA Tournament?
The short answer is no.
Should the Aggies stumble down the stretch and lose any of their three remaining regular-season games, and then lose in the WAC Tournament, they will have at least two more losses against teams with RPI’s likely over 150.
Under that scenario the Aggies would likely be square on the bubble again, and will spend Selection Sunday sweating it out.
If the season were to end today the Aggies would be looking pretty. Sports Illustrated’s Andy Glockner projects Utah State as a No. 9 seed playing Old Dominion, which would pit Stew Morrill against another of his old assistants in ODU’s Blaine Taylor. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi also has the Aggies as a No. 9 seed playing UNLV.
Assuming these projections are an accurate read of the NCAA selection committee, the Aggies should have some room for error. If the Aggies were to win out, but falter in the WAC tournament, they likely would fall a seed or two, but still make the field.
One thing is guaranteed, Morrill and his team will be doing everything in their power to win their last few games and avoid sweating out life on the bubble.
Going undefeated for the rest of the season would also likely equal the Aggies’ best seed recent memory, perhaps even leading to the Aggies wearing their home whites as the higher seed in their first-round game.