USU's Stew Morrill reflects on BracketBusters, scheduling

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Logan • Two and a half weeks before his final BracketBusters game against Illinois State, coach Stew Morrill was reflecting Tuesday on what the ESPN midmajor tournament has wrought for programs such as Utah State.

Most of it good, he said.

"BracketBusters has always been a good event," he said. "Over the years, we've been in position to have TV games that could help us or hurt us if we win."

For Morrill, who has never hid much frustration when it comes to trying to schedule home-and-homes against good competition, it was a chance to do just that with the opportunity for a bigger stage.

Utah State has gone 5-2 in BracketBusters games, with wins over St. Mary's and Witchita State serving as perhaps the highlights of the Aggies' involvement with the midmajor TV event. But even in non-televised years, such as this one, it gives Utah State an opportunity to do home-and-homes with programs that it might not otherwise play.

"For us, the big thing is having a Missouri Valley Conference team at home," he said. "We have a lot of trouble getting a lot of conferences to schedule us home-and-home. ... It's a positive game in our schedule."

The trade-off, of couse, is having a non-conference competition in the middle of WAC play. In a season like this one, preparing for the Redbirds takes away some of the focus from trying to compete for a conference title. It comes at a portion of the season when most programs are just trying to stay healthy and focused to close out the year.

Utah State will be doubly challenged by the BracketBusters week this year. A make-up game at BYU that Tuesday could help make or break the Cougars' NCAA resume, so it will be a very tough two-game week, particularly with the Aggies' depth - or lack thereof.

Morrill said the program has dealt well with that call over the years, but acknowledged there could be some extra factors to deal with.

"The BYU thing is odd, going to their place in February is odd," he said. "We'll deal with those games when we get there."

— Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon