2024 MWC Tournament: Three Reasons Why the Utah State Aggies Can Win It All

Can the recently crowned MWC Regular Season Champions Pull off the Double?

2024 MWC Tournament: Why the Utah State Aggies can win it all.

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Utah State travels to Las Vegas in search of their second league title in a weeks time, here’s how they can win it all.

It’s that time folks, March Madness. A time for the sport to receive a huge boost in national attention & fanfare. But before we can all tune into non-stop basketball from breakfast to dinner. Several tickets still need to be punched.

The same holds true in the Mountain West. As teams prepare to kick off what could be four straight days of basketball for some & a quit exit for others on Wednesday afternoon in Las Vegas.

There isn’t necessarily a defined easy path to the title game. Even though some won’t have to hit the floor until day two. Everyone has a chance to to climb the ladder come Saturday. But the recently crowned Mountain West Regular Season Champions Utah State may have the leg up on the competition.

The Track Record

First year Head Coach Danny Sprinkle knows a little something about punched tickets & cutting down nets. The former Montana State head man led his alma mater to back-to-back conference championships & NCAA Tournament appearances, their first in program history.  Last year’s tournament matchup against Kansas State of the Big 12 wasn’t your typical lower seed early exit either.

They hit the national stage & gave No. 3 Kansas State a run for their money in a potential upset as the No. 14 seed. Montana State gained the lead early on over their Big 12 foe. The Wildcats would go on several runs to create distance between them & Danny Sprinkle’s group. Though the Bobcats didn’t go quietly, keeping the deficit to single digits most of the way.

Montana State would fall 77-65 to one of the more dangerous teams to emerge in last season’s tournament. Kansas State would go on a run to the Elite Eight before falling to the tournament’s true Cinderella, Florida Atlantic. Something that might not have happened if the Bobcats would have pulled off the upset.

Has the right team been assembled in Logan that can give Coach Sprinkle his third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament & a chance at securing his first win?

The Fire Power

Aside from having an experienced head coach leading the team to the Field of 68 promise land, you’ll need the players capable of scoring enough points to get you there. The Aggies have plenty of that, with the second highest scoring average in the conference & a top-40 adjusted offensive efficiency ranking on KenPom.

Danny Sprinkle also has four different double-digit scorers to rely on with all four capable of huge scoring outbursts any given night. With the quartet of Great Osobor, Ian Martinez, Darius Brown II & Mason Falslev holding 25 combined 20+ point game performances in the regular season.

Also, to put current season averages aside. Brown II & Osobor have NCAA Tournament experience from their time at Montana State together. While Martinez played in the tournament himself last year at Maryland. Where the Terrapins went 1-1 before falling 73-51 to No. 1 seed Alabama in the Second Round in the South Region.

With a deep, highly capable & experienced squad. The Aggies have the chance to win their first game in the big dance since 2001, in Stew Morrill’s third season in Logan. To give them the opportunity, they’ll need the right man running the show in Las Vegas, luckily they have just the player.

The Floor General

For any good team to flourish in a high stress environment such as the Thomas & Mack Center in March, you need a good leader. It doesn’t get much better around the Mountain West than Aggie point guard Darius Brown II. The graduate transfer from Montana State has been a key piece to what could easily be described as the feel good story of the college basketball season.

He’s made a jump in competition twice in the past two off-seasons. Each time locking in & stepping up his own level of play to whatever is needed for his new squad, usually being coached by Sprinkle.

His career high averages in points (12.4 PPG), assists (6.4 APG), rebounds (4.4 RPG) & three point shooting totals (40.4%, on 57/141 attempts) this season have proven huge for Utah State. Especially that last statistic, as Brown II has netted two three point game winners in the past few weeks.

Two clutch moments in Utah State’s escape from Fresno State back in late February. Not traditional game winners, but not one but two clutch moments in a game that essentially led to his team winning a surprisingly tough road game.

As mentioned prior, anyone can win this time of year, it’s March Madness for crying out lout. But not many other teams are primed for an NCAA Tournament appearance like Utah State.

Whether or not that path to the big dance includes a second conference title on Saturday remains to be seen. But you won’t find many folks betting against the Aggies this week.

Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire