Remember when … Utah men’s college basketball teams would go dancing?

Utah’s Britton Johnsen celebrates with his teammates following the Utes’ Final Four victory over North Carolina in the 1998 NCAA Tournament in San Antonio on Saturday, March 29, 1998. | Ravell Call, Deseret News

Message from a reader: “Remember when men’s college basketball teams in Utah didn’t (slang word for ‘stink’)?”

Yes. Many of us also remember bell bottoms (the first time they came along) and high-waisted jeans (the first time they came along), and big hair and Bon Jovi and indoor cigarette smoking and TVs with four channels. If we think really hard we can even remember when Utah basketball was A Big Deal.

No, really. It’s difficult to believe, but Utah’s schools from the ’40s through most of the ’80s were the biggest show in the state. Bigger than football. Bigger than Donny and Marie (remember them?). Utah was the North Carolina of the West for a time. There have been some sparks of success here and there since then — the Jimmer Fredette era at BYU and the remarkable, extended run by Utah in the ’90s under the late, great, mercurial Rick Majerus — but now it’s only a shadow of what it once was.

Bell bottoms have come back, but not the Utah college basketball scene.

Look around. Other than Utah State, what’ve you got? The Aggies, 26-8, won a berth in the NCAA Tournament despite losing in the Mountain West Conference championship game. This marks the third time in five years the Aggies are in the tournament.

And that’s about it. A total of 100 teams receive invitations to the two postseason tournaments — NCAA (68), NIT (32). BYU, Utah, Southern Utah and Weber State didn’t get one of them. They are going to the offseason. They can’t crack the top 100.

Utah Valley received an NIT bid and will play at New Mexico Wednesday night.


But the NIT is not the NCAA Tournament and some teams actually turn down its invitations (which is what North Carolina, the preseason No. 1 team, did this year).

BYU, 19-15 overall, lost to South Dakota…

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Author : Deseret News

Publish date : 2023-03-16 03:00:00

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Remember when … Utah men’s college basketball teams would go dancing?  
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