After a minor setback at the hands of the evil BYU Cougars, the Aggies are returning home tonight to face off against their former conference-mate Pacific Tigers. Get ready to get your heckling on, and check out the latest Bangarang Issue for some ammunition.
The Aggies are off to a great start at 4-0, and have a big test tonight against the Weber State Wildcats in the Purple Palace in Ogden. The Bangarang has prepared a special edition Spectrum On Wheels Issue for tonight’s game.
You can find it, and all previous issues on The Bangarang page.
Any Utah State fan that’s been a fan for a few years knows all about a little something we like to call “The Refraction“. Well, with some guidance from the geniuses that put together that unofficial gameday newsletter, we now have a second generation of chaos creators.
May I present to you, The Bangarang. A Season Preview Issue was created for the second exhibition contest against Adams State last week, and Issue 1 is now live for the first game of the season against USC.
Head on over to The Bangarang and download your copy now!
I’ve been meaning to make a blog entry for quite some time now on this subject, and I’m finally getting around to it. I’ve been fascinated that media and fan perceptions of the move to the Mountain West Conference and schedule strength increases from last year to this year appear to be a bit out of touch with reality (in my statistically-based world, anyway).
Much has been made of Utah State entering the Mountain West Conference football conference this coming season. Most media members, fans (including our own), coaches (including our own), and other analysts have said that the move will be a tough one. Utah State will be facing a tougher conference and tougher opponents. How will they fare? Surely they won’t be able to achieve similar successes to what they did in 2012 in the “weak” Western Athletic Conference.
What is this opinion based on? I think it is based merely on image and historical biases. Is it true? That is what this article will focus on.
As a frequent contributor to the USUFans.com message board, I was intrigued this past week in reading a few threads on this very subject. Many fans (including the majority of Aggie fans posting) said repeatedly how this year’s schedule and this year’s conference will be tougher than last year’s. What was this based on? Many posters alleged that it’s incredibly difficult to compare teams that haven’t faced each other in direct competition. This may be true, but there are statistical formulas that do a great job of comparing disparate teams based on a variety of factors, and can predict outcomes with pretty good accuracy. That’s what I’m going to focus on to disprove the notion that the Mountain West Conference will be a huge step up in difficulty. I’ll also disprove the notion that the 2013 schedule will be much more difficult than the 2012 schedule. In fact, it could (and probably should) be argued that the WAC was a stronger conference than the MWC last year, and that the 2012 schedule was a stronger schedule than the 2013 schedule.
Jeff Sagarin is a statistical guru who has a several rating formulas that he uses to rate and rank teams on their relative strength. He uses his formulas to rate teams in NCAA football and basketball as well as a variety of other sports.
MWC vs WAC
So let’s take a look at the notion that the Mountain West Conference will be a step up in competition from what we saw in the WAC. Here are the end of season ratings from 2012 for each conference:
So the average Sagarin rank for WAC teams was 96 compared to 109.3 for Mountain West Conference teams. It’s also interesting to note that the top 3 teams in the WAC were rated much higher than the top 3 teams in the MWC when compared side by side. The bottom two WAC teams were rated quite low (lower than any MWC team), but overall the WAC should be considered the stronger conference of the two.
Now, there are many people who prefer to rely on the hats-in-the-mall theory, conference reputation, or the “eye-test” to determine the strength of a team. So let’s look at head to head contests last year between the WAC and MWC.
USU @ CSU – WAC
USU vs UNLV – WAC
SJSU vs CSU – WAC
SJSU @ SDSU – WAC (SDSU was the MWC Co-Champion…and lost at home to the 2nd place WAC team)
NMSU vs UNM – MWC
TxSt vs Nevada – MWC
TxSt @ UNM – MWC
LaTech vs UNLV – WAC
Idaho vs Wyoming – MWC
WAC wins: 5
MWC wins: 4
Obviously not all WAC teams played all MWC teams, but in the games that were played the WAC won more often than the MWC did last year.
2012 Schedule vs 2013 Schedule
Now let’s take a look at Utah State 2012 Schedule vs our 2013 Schedule. Many have stated that this year’s schedule will be stronger than last year’s. I didn’t buy into that theory and with a little help from Jeff Sagarin was able to back up my initial thoughts.
The average rank of our 2012 opponents was 99.83. The average rank of our 2013 opponents (at the end of the 2012 season) was 101.17. Does this mean that this year’s schedule will end up weaker than the 2012 schedule? Not necessarily. But based on the information that we have it looks like this year’s schedule will be slightly less difficult (on average) than last year’s schedule. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Body bag games:
Both games played on the road. Wisconsin ended the season ranked 23rd by Sagarin, while USC ended the season ranked 33rd.
Last year we had #26 BYU on the road while this year they are coming to Romney Stadium. Last year’s BYU game was a battle of defenses with BYU pulling out a 3 point victory. Utah State should be favored in this year’s game. Especially at home.
Against Utah, the Aggies won a hard fought battle in overtime by 7 points. This year’s game will open the season in Salt Lake City, and early Vegas lines have Utah as the slight favorite. Using the end of year Sagarin Predictor ratings from 2012 gives Utah State a 9.26 point edge if the game were played on a neutral field. The home field advantage usually accounts for a 3-4 point difference, so based on where each team ended the 2012 season, Utah State should be favored by 5-6 points this year. Why is the Vegas line different? Well, that’s the topic for another post, but basically Vegas tries to set the spread to where they will get 50% of their bettors to bet on each side of the spread. Perception, BCS Bias, coaching changes, player changes, injuries, and probably even the hats-in-the-mall theory all weigh in to where lines are set. I think picking the Aggies to cover is a good bet this year.
As far as FCS foes go, Southern Utah was ranked quite a bit higher last year than Weber State was. Either way, this should be an easy win for Utah State. In short, based on last year’s results, all three games this year should equate to wins for the Aggies.
Last year we faced each of the top WAC teams on the road in #29 San Jose State, #51 LA Tech, and #110 UTSA. This year we face San Jose State on the road again, but have Boise State (41) and Wyoming (121) at home. It’s also interesting to note that outside of Boise State, and SJSU, the next highest MWC team we face was rated #121 in the nation last year. That bodes well for our conference record this year if we can get past the Spartans and Broncos (a big if).
Overall, I think it’s very safe to say that this year’s schedule is easier than last year’s schedule.
What are your thoughts?
It’s that time of year again! Time to try and piece together the team for the upcoming basketball season! We’ve done just that at USUStats.com with our annual “Pictorial Roster“. Check it out by clicking below, and feel free to post questions, comments, or predictions on any of the players you see on the roster.
Also feel free to reminisce and check out the rosters from past seasons by changing the season in the drop down box at the top of the page (once you click the link above).
The Mountain West Conference announced the 2014 Basketball Tournament format and schedule yesterday. With a little help from ProvoAggie at USUFans.com, we now have actual brackets of both the Men’s and Women’s tournaments as well (see below).
The tournament will be held from March 10-15 in Las Vegas, Nevada at UNLV’s home stadium, the Thomas and Mack Center. The format of both tournaments will consist of three opening round games played by the #6-11 seeds. The winners of those games will advance to face the #1, #2, and #3 seeds in the quarterfinals. The women will open play on Monday March 10th and will play their quarterfinals games on Tuesday March 11th before waiting until Friday to start the semifinals. The Men will play their opening round games on Wednesday March 12, and continue each day until the conference championship game on Saturday.
Men’s Tournament Bracket || PDF Format
Women’s Tournament Bracket || PDF Format
MONDAY, MARCH 10
Game #1 2:00 p.m. #8 Women’s Seed vs. #9 Women’s Seed
Game#2 4:30 p.m. #7 Women’s Seed vs. #10 Women’s Seed
Game #3 7:00 p.m. #6 Women’s Seed vs. #11 Women’s Seed
TUESDAY, MARCH 11
Game #4 12 noon #1 Women’s Seed vs. Game #1 Winner
Game #5 2:30 p.m. #4 Women’s Seed vs. #5 Women’s Seed
Game #6 6:00 p.m. #2 Women’s Seed vs. Game #2 Winner
Game #7 8:30 p.m. #3 Women’s Seed vs. Game #3 Winner
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12
Game #8 2:00 p.m. #8 Men’s Seed vs. #9 Men’s Seed
Game #9 4:30 p.m. #7 Men’s Seed vs. #10 Men’s Seed
Game #10 7:00 p.m. #6 Men’s Seed vs. #11 Men’s Seed
THURSDAY, MARCH 13
Game #11 12 noon #1 Men’s Seed vs. Game #8 Winner
Game #12 2:30 p.m. #4 Men’s Seed vs. #5 Men’s Seed
Game #13 6:00 p.m. #2 Men’s Seed vs. Game #9 Winner
Game #14 8:30 p.m. #3 Men’s Seed vs. Game #10 Winner
FRIDAY, MARCH 14
Game #15 12 noon Game #4 Winner vs. Game #5 Winner
Game #16 2:30 p.m. Game #6 Winner vs. Game #7 Winner
Game #17 6:00 p.m. Game #11 Winner vs. Game #12 Winner
Game #18 8:30 p.m. Game #13 Winner vs. Game #14 Winner
SATURDAY, MARCH 15
Game #19 TBD Women’s Championship Game
Game #20 TBD . Men’s Championship Game
It’s that time of year again! Time for the USUFans Big Blue Scholarship Fund Challenge! Our partner site USUFans.com has set up a “USUFans Challenge” to help raise funds for the Big Blue Scholarship Fund. Last year we raised nearly $28,000, and this year’s goal is to increase donations by 10% to reach $30,500. Being an Aggie sports fan has never been better, and it’s the perfect time to show you support our athletes by contributing to their scholarships!
Everyone that donates will receive some Aggie memorabilia, and there are several rewards (prizes) that will be given out in a drawing at the end of the challenge to anyone who donates through the site. Interested in autographed sports cards from Aggie greats? How about a brand new piece of the Aggie Blue turf cut from the end zone in Romney Stadium? Head on over and check it out! Anyone who donates a minimum of $25 will receive a Robert Turbin, Bobby Wagner, and/or Chuck Jacobs rookie card!
In case you missed it, here’s a clip from tonight’s ESPN SportsCenter. They had a section about high school basketball buzzer beaters that featured future Aggie Jalen Moore. This video was shown on ESPN2 SportsCenter directly shortly after the game.
UPDATE: Later on ESPN, Jalen made the opening highlights and leading top stories. Here’s that video:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jalen made #2 on the SportsCenter Top 10 Plays tonight:
While looking for some highlight of some of our new football signees I came across this interview of one of the most interesting stories this recruiting year. Hayden Weichers, a 6-0, 170 lb wide receiver from Bingham High School comes from a long line of BYU Cougars. He had committed early to BYU, but was recruited heavily by both BYU and Utah State. In December Hayden decided to decommit from BYU to sign with Utah State and was instantly a fan favorite in Logan.
Here’s an interview with Hayden filmed yesterday on National Letter of Intent day. Enjoy.
And just for good measure, here’s a nice highlight clip of Weichers.
So much for regional matchups. Just when I was pretty sure Utah State would see a regional matchup with Montana, Pacific, or even UC Irvine, ESPN sent us a team from back east. The Illinois State Redbirds will be visiting the Spectrum on Saturday February 23rd at 7:00 Mountain Time.
While the game is not televised on the ESPN networks, there is still a chance that it may be picked up by KMYU TV in Utah. Last year it was announced two days before game day that the BracketBuster game against UC Santa Barbara was to be televised on KMYU.
Utah State has faced Illinois State 5 times and has won 2 of those match ups. Two of the games were NIT contests (both won by Illinois State). For a full history between the two schools check out the Illinois State page at USUStats.com.