A 17 game win streak, 18.6 point average margin of victory over that streak, a 27 win season, regular season conference champions by a three game margin in the country’s 10th best conference, ranked 26th and 28th in national polls going into the WAC Tournament, a team that has played in the tournament championship game four out of the last five years, an RPI in the low 30s, four starters who played in the NCAA tournament last year, and a veteran head coach who reached 500 victories this season.Utah State University’s resume is impressive and presents a strong argument for an invitation to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Because USU did not win the conference tournament, losing 69-63 to New Mexico State in the Lawlor Events Center Saturday, the Aggies do not have the guarantee that comes with winning the conference tourney.USU has to now place its hope in the NCAA selection committee as it considers USU’s body of work for an at-large invite. Yet doubt still lingers in the minds of Aggie faithful. The snub in 2004 still leaves those who follow USU skeptical about the selection process. Utah State was ranked in the top 25 nationally but lost in the Big West Tournament. Even with the top 25 ranking USU did not get invited to the Big Dance and had to settle for an invitation to the NIT.”It’s really a great test for schools like ours, for leagues like ours,” Stew Morrill said following USU’s defeat Saturday. “For a school like us to win 17 games in a row, win the league outright by three games, lose in the final to a good team, our RPI is better than a lot of schools being talked about…so if we don’t get in it makes it really tough for mid-major leagues, although I don’t know if you can call a top 10 league mid-major.”What do you have to do to get in? Is our league a one-team league? If you look at our body of work we belong in there.”Other coaches in the WAC have echoed that sentiment. Following the game Saturday, New Mexico St. coach Marvin Menzies made a case for USU to participate in arguably the country’s best selection process for determining a national champion.”Without a doubt they deserve to go,” Menzies said Saturday. “They won, what, 17 in a row and I don’t care who they played, 17 in a row is 17 in a row. Even if you take that out of the mix, for them to play how they did in conference and their couple of good non-conference wins they deserve to be in. They have had a great season. I thought they did before tonight.”After suffering a 30 point loss to the Aggies Friday night, Louisiana Tech’s head coach Kerry Rupp lobbied for USU. “They should definitely be looked at and what they’ve done.” He also added, “they should be in regardless.”USU now sits in the unenviable position of having to wait and see. The NCAA selection committee will make its announcements of who ultimately got in, who their opponent will be and where they will play their first round game Sunday night on CBS. Aggie faithful can only sit, and wait.
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