Utah, one of eight schools to participate in the 2018 Wooden Legacy in-season collegiate basketball tournament to be staged in southern California during Thanksgiving weekend, has advanced to the “final four” of the National Invitational Basketball Tournament.
One of 17 schools to win both the NCAA and NIT titles, Utah of the Pac-12 Conference will meet Western Kentucky of Conference USA in the first of two semi-final games Tuesday (March 27) at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Penn State of the Big Ten challenges Mississippi State of the SEC in the second game with the winning two schools playing Thursday for the NIT title.
After posting opening wins over Cal Davis (69-59) and LSU (95-71), the 22-11 Utes advanced to New York by winning 67-58 in overtime Wednesday at Saint Mary’s. Utah trailed 39-34 entering the fourth quarter as junior Sedrick Barfield scored 19 points and had three of the Utes’ four 3-pointers in overtime. With the win, Utah joins Gonzaga as the only teams to win at Saint Mary’s this season
Other schools competing the the 2018 Wooden Legacy are Grand Canyon (Western Athletic) Fresno State (Mountain West), Hawai’i (Big West) LaSalle (Atlantic 10), Miami (Atlantic Coast), Northwestern (Big Ten), Seton Hall (Big East) and Utah (Pac-12) in the 2018 Wooden Legacy field.
Grand Canyon, Miami and Seton Hall joined Utah as 2018 Wooden Legacy schools competing in the 2018 postseason. Miami (No. 6 seed in the South Region) and Seton Hall (No. 8 seed in the Midwest Region) earned bids to the 2018 NCAA Championships. Both Miami and Seton Hall will be playing for the third-straight season in the NCAAs.
Utah, which was competing in its 14th NIT, was making an appearance in the post-season for the fifth-straight season coach Larry Krystkowiak. Utah will be playing in its fourth NIT “final four” after winning the 1947 titles, placing second in 19764 and third in 1992. Overall, Utah is playing in the post-season for the 45th-time.
Grand Canyon is coached by Dan Majerle, the three-time NBA All-Star and member of the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National team at both the 1988 Olympics and 1994 FIBA World Championship. The Antelopes, who earned a berth in the College Basketball Invitational Tournament, will be playing in the post-season for the fourth-time under Majerle with past appearances in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Fresno State (21-11), Grand Canyon (22-12), Miami (22-10), Seton Hall (21-12) and Utah (22-11) won 20 or more games in 2017-2018. Overall, the eight schools in the 2018 Wooden Legacy combined for a 154-105 record (59.5%). Hawai’i posted a 17-13 record with Northwestern 15-17 and LaSalle (13-19).
The Wooden Legacy was formed in June 2013 when the John R. Wooden Classic was merged with the Anaheim Classic, which was an eight-school bracketed event played for six years (2007-2012) at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Past Anaheim Classic/Wooden Legacy winners were USC (2007), Wake Forest (2008), West Virginia (2009), UNLV (2010), Saint Louis (2011), Cal (2012), San Diego State (2013), Washington (2014), Michigan State (2015), UCLA (2016) and Washington State (2017).
Four of the eight schools that competed in the 2017 Wooden Legacy advanced to the 2018 postseason. Cal State Fullerton (Big West) and San Diego State (Mountain West) advanced to the 2018 NCAA Championships. Harvard, which tied for the Ivy League regular-season title with Penn, and Saint Mary’s (West Coast) competed in the 2018 NIT.
The Wooden Legacy is one of several in-season bracketed college basketball tournaments owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN.