In-state games are always fun. Think about Utah Valley and BYU. Or what we saw on Sunday when Arizona State played at Grand Canyon. Let’s look back a little further and think about the dramatics of California Baptist in a near-upset at USC to open the 2020-21 season. UTRGV has only played Texas schools and beat their South Texas rival Texas A&M-Corpus Christ….twice.
Fan bases love the in-state games. Bragging rights are at stake. And sheer pride comes from beating in-state foes.
Let’s take a look at what’s on tap for Tuesday.
Chicago State at Illinois State – ESPN3, 1 p.m. MT
Let’s face it, Chicago State is most likely going to be 0-7 at the end of the day. Consistency, continuity and playing as a team seem to be some of the missing pieces for the Cougars. Yes, Chicago State has some talent with Rajeir Jones, Andrew Lewis, Isaiah Lewis and Aaris-Monte Bonds among others.
But, if you don’t play together, communicate better and execute at a high level, wins are hard to come by.
Believe me when I say this…We WANT Chicago State to win games. Everyone in WAC Hoops Nation is cheering for the Cougars.
Problem is the non-conference slate is brutal. In all reality, Tuesday is perhaps the best opportunity for the Cougars to get a win. The line against Illinois State is 22.5. But, playing on the road, well, actually playing at all hasn’t been friendly to Chicago State in recent years. Chicago State has lost 25 straight games dating back to the 2019-20 season. And it most likely will be extended to 26 on Tuesday.
Utah Valley at Utah – Pac-12 Network, 5 p.m. MT
This is an intriguing matchup. I love that it is actually going to take place. I was fearful that a cancellation was going to occur. But, both teams tested negative and are ready to roll on Tuesday night. On the UVU Coaches Show on Monday, I told Brandon Crow that I actually think the Wolverines have a shot to knock off the Utes.
And I am dead serious about that.
Perhaps Utah Valley will be at full strength tonight in the Huntsman Center. Leading scorer Jamison Overton missed both games last week due to illness. And at times it showed how much he means to the Wolverines when he is on the floor.
But Georgia Tech transfer Evan Cole got his feet wet this past week. Cole was out due to Covid-19 for two weeks in a pretty serious bout with the disease. So, perhaps getting more work in and being more in basketball shape can make a difference on Tuesday night.
Jordan Brinson has been playing well of late. Brinson averaged 18.5 points, five assists and four rebounds in losses to Southern Utah and Wyoming. Trey Woodbury continues to put up big numbers. And Utah Valley big man Fardaws Aimaq is averaging 15.2 points and 15.6 rebounds per game.
The Utes are coming off an 82-64 loss at BYU on Saturday. If Utah Valley slows down Ute guard Alfonso Plummer, the Wolverines could shock the world. Utah Valley is an 18.5-point underdog but don’t be surprised in the Wolverines hold their own in this in-state battle.
Grand Canyon returns to action on Tuesday against a non-Division I opponent in SAGU American Indian College. With a win the Lopes will improve to 5-1. It’s a good opportunity to get some shots up, refine their execution and get some bench players more minutes. The Lopes will have the rest of the week off before traveling to Las Vegas for the Far West Classic. In Las Vegas, GCU will take on San Francisco on Dec. 20 and Colorado on Dec. 22.
Tarleton State, Dixie State and Seattle U all had Tuesday games cancelled. The Texans were going to play at No. 2 Baylor. Dixie State was going to travel to Logan for an in-state game against head coach Jon Judkins’ Alma Mater in Utah State. And Seattle U was going to host non-Division I opponent Corban University.