First-round matchups for the Bank of the West Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational (BWDHSBI, pronounced Bwadishbee) were not tournament- or fan-friendly. Complications messed that up.
UTEP and Colorado State have signed a contract for a series of games for here and for Fort Collins, and this was the first game.
Thus, the two met on the first night (Wednesday) while the two rent-a-losers (Pine Bluff and Jacksonville St.) met in the other semi.
That meant if UTEP lost to CSU Wednesday, which it did, fewer fans would buy tickets for the second round, UTEP vs. Pine in the consolation.
Apparently officials were afraid of first-round upsets that could have meant UTEP and CSU wouldn't meet in the two-day event, thus messing up the contract.
I say UTEP should have gambled and set up the bracket so both UTEP and CSU would get the patsies - Pine and the Villers - Wednesday then play in the championship game Thursday. Odds of an upset Wednesday were really, really slight.
There would have been a bigger walk-up crowd Thursday had UTEP been in the finals, meaning more ticket revenue.
Also, one can question why they play this event in the first place. Asking people to come to a basketball game two nights in a row is too much the week between Christmas and New Year's, and just before the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
It was different (many years ago) when national caliber teams were in the field, such as:
Washington State and Texas in 1994, Purdue and Florida in 1992 - and the entire 1980s were filled with strong, big-name fields. For example, in 1983 the field was: UTEP, Michigan, Arizona and Texas Tech.
A lot has changed. Big schools don't want to go on the road, where they might lose (like at a decent program such as UTEP). More money can be made, and more wins can be assured, by playing those two games at home rather than on the road where a loss means a ding in the RPI ratings.