Runnin’ Utes cut down on late ‘Big Monday’ games

It’s not what the Utes ultimately want, but Mountain West Conference scheduling is getting better.

With the release of the conference schedule, some of the late-night concerns have been addressed.

The Utes will play only two “Big Monday” 10 p.m. games in the upcoming season: Jan. 10 against UNLV at the Huntsman Center and Jan. 31 against BYU in Provo. Both games will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

This is a departure from recent years for the Utes, who are used to such late-night showdowns.

“Big Monday” games have been a sticky point between the Mountain West and ESPN.

The conference has tried to get out of the games, but so far to little avail.

The 10 p.m. game against UNLV is the conference opener for Utah, followed by a two-game road trip to Wyoming and Colorado State.

After a return from Fort Collins, Colo., the Utes open a difficult three-game stretch. Conference rival New Mexico comes to Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 22 for a showdown on ESPN Plus, followed by a Monday-evening game on Jan. 24 against defending regular-season champion Air Force.

The Utes enjoy a week off before heading to Provo, where they will take on archrival BYU in the national spotlight.

The Utes close the regular season with three games out of four on ESPN Plus. On Feb. 19 Utah visits Air Force for a Saturday afternoon match-up that could play a big part in the conference race.

Utah closes with a two-game homestand on consecutive Saturdays. A rematch with BYU looms on Feb. 26, with the conference finale against San Diego State March 5.

The Conference Tournament will be held at the Pepsi Center in Denver March 10, 11 and 12. The championship game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 12.

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