March 2, 2011
Utah Valley (18-10, 10-1) at NJIT (14-13, 8-2)
Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 5:30 p.m. MT / 7:30 p.m. ET
Newark, New Jersey (Fleisher Athletic Center)
Radio: 1400 KSTAR or WolverineGreen.com
Live Stats ~ Live Audio
NEWARK, New Jersey - The top two teams in the Great West Conference square off on Thursday as first-place Utah Valley travels to second-place NJIT for a 5:30 p.m. MT/7:30 p.m. ET tip in Newark, New Jersey.
The Wolverines (18-10, 10-1) have already earned at least a share of the Great West title and can clinch the regular season crown outright with a win. The Highlanders (14-13, 8-2) must beat UVU and then defeat Chicago State on Saturday to earn a share of the title.
"NJIT is playing great ball right now. We understand their motivation in trying to claim a piece of the conference championship in this game. We have a lot of respect for their team and their abilities," Utah Valley head coach Dick Hunsaker said.
Should the teams finish with identical records, tiebreaker scenarios will force the top seed in next week's tournament to be decided by the Collegiate Basketball News RPI, which will be released on Monday morning.
Regardless, Utah Valley, which was picked sixth along with North Dakota in the preseason poll -- essentially last -- will finish first in the Great West. The Wolverines have won four games in a row, the fourth time this season they've run off a four-game streak.
UVU won its home regular season finale last Saturday over Houston Baptist, 67-62, behind 22 points and 11 rebounds from Ben Aird, earning the freshman back-to-back conference Player of the Week awards. He's the first Great West player to receive the award in consecutive weeks.
NJIT was the preseason pick to win the conference and had three players named first or second team All-Conference prior to the season. The Highlanders kept their hopes for a shared title alive with a 69-62 win at North Dakota last Saturday. NJIT is led by the trio of Isaiah Wilkerson (13.7 ppg) Chris Flores (13.0) and Jheryl Wilson (12.6).
Utah Valley defeated the Highlanders 71-58 on Jan. 29 in Orem in the first meeting between the team this year.
Utah Valley University is hosting the 2011 Pepsi Great West Conference Men's & Women's Basketball Championships March 9-12 in the UCCU Center. The women's portion of the tournament gets underway on March 9 with men's quarterfinals beginning March 10. The top seed in both the men's and women's tournament will receive a bye in to the semifinals on Friday.