Utah State will host Illinois State for ESPN's final Bracket Busters
Utah State won't be on TV for ESPN's Bracket Busters, but the Aggies will have a chance over their second Missouri Valley Conference opponent this year.
On Feb. 23, Illinois State (13-10, 4-7) will be heading to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan to challenge the Aggies (16-5, 7-4). The Bracket Busters match-up - the last year ESPN will run the annual midmajor exhibition - will be at 7 p.m.
The school officially announced the game Monday afternoon, and the contest setting up a tough week in the Aggies non-conference slate. Utah State faces BYU on Tuesday, Feb. 19 to make up for a cancelled game from December after the team was reeling from Danny Berger's health scare.
Those games are sandwiched by contests against New Mexico State before and Louisian Tech after, the two power teams in the Western Athletic Conference.
Illinois State is languishing in the MVC this year, and has particularly struggled on the road. Still, the Redbirds have several highlights: wins over Dayton, Western Michigan, and playing Louisville down to the wire in a three-point defeat.
The team is led by Jackie Carmichael, a senior forward who is averaging 17.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2 blocks per game.
Utah State has played the Redbirds five times, and Illinois State has 3-2 advantage in the series. Aggies fans may recall that the last time the team faced Southern Illinois, it ended in a 61-57 loss in the NIT on March 19, 2008.
Of the five other WAC teams participating in Bracket Busters, only Denver made the TV schedule in a match-up with Northern Iowa.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon