Given its smaller population, Utah has experienced a disproportionate amount of athletic success over the years. From Olympic champions to collegiate and professional stars, the Beehive State is usually well represented.
Collegiate basketball is no exception. The University of Utah won the AAUU national championship in 1916, the NCAA championship in 1944 and the NIT championship in 1947. BYU won the NIT championship in 1951 and 1966.
While there haven't been any national championships in recent years, there have been plenty of memorable moments. Here are some that stand out for the state's collegiate basketball teams.
Over 20 years later, the Utes’ 1998 NCAA Tournament run is remembered as hallowed ground, a sacred and almost fairy-tale like time of University of Utah basketball glory. For the season, the team went 30-4 and came close to winning it all against one of college basketball's dynasties.
Names like Rick Majerus, Andre Miller, Alex Jensen, Britton Johnsen, Hanno Möttölä and Michael Doleac still conjure up sweet memories of winning five NCAA tournament games, only to narrowly lose to Kentucky in the championship.
From 2008-2011, Jimmer Fredette, a 6-2 guard from Glenn Falls, New York, cemented his spot in BYU and national basketball history. Along the way, he captivated a devoted fan base with his impressive shooting and scoring. His name became synonymous with unbelievable shooting skills.
His senior year he averaged 28.9 points per game and won most National Player of the Year awards (Naismith, Wooden, AP, Oscar Robertson, NABC, Adolph Rupp, Sporting News, Basketball Times, CBSSports.com, SI.com).
Even President Obama, speaking to ESPN, proclaimed himself a fan, saying "Unbelievable. Best scorer obviously in the country. Great talent."
Nearly a decade later, the crowd at the Feb. 22 game against Gonzaga went bananas when a recording of Jimmer played on the screen in the Marriott Center. Jimmer mania will be part of the BYU Basketball hype for years to come.
1999 Weber State Wildcats
Led by Harold Arceneaux, the Wildcats faced storied North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The third-seeded Tar Heels were making their 25th consecutive NCAA appearance.
From the outset, the Wildcats controlled the game, leading for most of the second half. North Carolina had no answer for Arceneaux, who had 36 points for the game and 20 in the second half. Weber State had a 10-point lead with four minutes left. The Tar Heels closed the gap, but ended up falling short as the Wildcats won 76–74.
The game was one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history and Weber State is the only team to defeat UNC in the first round since the NCAA eliminated first-round byes in 1985.
After years of playing in the Mountain West Conference, the University of Utah joined the Pac 12 Conference in 2011. BYU also left the Mountain West that year and with the football team becoming an independent, the school's other sports, including basketball, joined the West Coast Conference.
Not to be outdone, in 2013 Utah State University bolted from the Western Athletic Conference to join the Mountain West.
In the third season under coach Larry Krystowiak, the Utah Utes beat Stephen F. Austin in the first round of the NCAA tournament and then beat Georgetown in the second round, earning a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. In that contest, Utah lost to the Duke Blue Devils 63-57. Duke went on to win the national championship.
For the season, Utah went 26-9 with the help of stars Delon Wright, Jordan Loveridge, Brandon Taylor and Jacob Poeltl.
Kyle Collinsworth: Mr. Triple Double
After Jimmer’s reign ended, it was only a matter of time until another hype-machine of a player would make his way to BYU.
Provo High star Kyle Collinsworth left his mark on BYU in a big way. In 2016, Collinsworth set an NCAA record when he posted the 12th triple double. That was twice the prior high of six, a record jointly held by Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Anderson.
Collinsworth also owns BYU career records for rebounding (1,047) and assists (703). He is also the 11th in scoring (1,207 points) and second in steals (229) in BYU basketball's history.
Aggies 2018-2019 d 2019-2020 basketball seasons
Under new head coach, Craig Smith, the Aggies emerged as a team to watch, much to fans' delight. Both seasons, In the Mountain West Tournament, the Aggies beat heavily favored and higher-ranked San Diego State to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
In 2019, the committee granted the team an eight seed, the highest ever in the team’s 21 NCAA Tournament appearances. Unfortunately, the Cinderella story ended quickly when the Aggies fell to Washington 78-61 in a first-round contest.
The jury is still out on how the 2020 Aggies will perform in the tournament, but no matter the outcome, Utah State performed above expectations again.
Just as these memorable moments stick with true fans year after year, you can make your own memories with your family and friends. Cuddle up on the couch with your favorite team's Minky Couture blanket — no matter the sport — and enjoy what brings you together.