After Utah's lopsided win over Arizona State Sunday evening, Larry Krystkowiak made the bold statement that his Utes plan on winning the Pac-12 Tournament and riding off to their first Big Dance in five years.
Truthfully, what he said wasn't entirely all that bold. Most coaches plan to do good things. I don't think I've yet read of a coach whose goals are to get bumped from the tournament early.
Regardless, this is an attitude that hopefully his team buys into - the idea that anything is possible and that, yes, Utah can still make the NCAA Tournament.
Sure, without winning the Pac-12 Tournament, it's not likely, but that's what March Madness is all about - the unthinkable and unbelievable. Teams have, more than once, shocked their way through conference tournaments and grabbed, even if a bit unfairly, an automatic bid to the NCAAs. It happens every year and who's to say this year will be any different? Who's to say it can't be Utah who does it?
This is, after all, a team that came within a game of playing for the Pac-12 championship last season - and this year's Utes are a whole heckuva lot better. With favorable match-ups, anything is possible.
Of course,receiving those favorable match-ups may require them to do something they haven't been able to do much of this season (hint: win on the road). If they can go 2-1 in their final three, luck just may be a lady for Utah this year in Vegas.
The ideal scenario for Utah would be to avoid Oregon and Arizona as long as possible. Both teams, I believe, could be the Utes' kryptonite. That's easier said than done - but still, if somehow those two teams could be knocked off, Larry Krystkowiak's plan becomes more and more feasible by the day.
Utah can help their conference standings these next few games. It will also establish whether they're a legitimate threat in the tournament or more bluster than anything else. I have a feeling, though, even if Utah fails to win the Pac-12 Tournament, a great deal of teams will dread the prospect of playing 'em. I don't anticipate this team going down without a fight and hopefully they won't - hopefully they fight and fight and fight until they're champions of the Pac-12 tournament.