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Utah's hope for the NCAA tournament kicks off today

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Utah plays UNLV in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament tonight at 7. It's the Utes lone hope of getting to the NCAA Tournament and probably a long shot, as UNLV swept the season series 2-0 and dominated Utah the last time these two teams met.

The Utes are coming off an embarrassing loss to rival BYU last Saturday and will most likely be playing their final game under head coach Ray Giacoletti. He "resigned" Friday, as Utah concluded one of their worst seasons in school history.

UNLV on the other hand is at the exact opposite of where Utah currently is. The program is having one of its best seasons in recent history, a lock for the NCAA Tournament and probably the Mountain West Conference's best shot at a deep tournament run. Lon Kruger is in his third year as head coach of UNLV and though they weren't great his first two years, the Rebels are definitely reaping the rewards of a fundamentally sound head coach like Kruger.

This game is being played in Vegas, as the Mountain West Conference Tournament returns to Sin City after a few years of playing in Denver. That will undoubtedly benefit the Rebels, who'll have home court for as long as their run lasts. And they should have no problem at least extending that run into the semifinals, as Utah will be completely owned by a far more talented and better coached UNLV team. I hope it's close, but I do expect a result much like the last time these two teams played.

No matter what though, GO UTES!