I've been a bit under the weather this week, so updates have been scarce. But now that I'm starting to feel better, regular updates should return to Block U.
The only thing of substance that has happened this week was Utah's overtime loss to New Mexico in The Pit. It appears this team still fails to grasp the definition of toughness. They've wilted now in pretty much every tight game, something that plagued the team all of last year. And while I am not giving up on Boylen, there does seem to be some startling flaws with this team, which is now why Utah probably isn't in the championship race anymore.
Those issues, however, are hard to pin down, because I'm not sure there is one answer. I think, though, a big part of Utah's struggles is the fact they were conditioned the past two years on how to do everything BUT win a game. That's something that can't easily be exorcised and could take all of this season before the team rids itself of those troubles. If that's the case, I expect Utah to be far better next year than they are right now. But that doesn't mean I'm conceding this season, because there is a slim hope for an NIT bid -- which would be leaps and bounds better than anything Utah achieved last year. Making the NIT, though, could prove difficult for Utah, who still faces some tough games on their schedule.
Looking at the schedule, Utah has 6 road games and 6 home games -- along with at least one game in the conference tournament -- left on their schedule. Of those 6 home games, Utah should win them all. However, things rarely go as planned, so expect at least one more home loss. The 6 road games aren't as easy to predict, though. I've seen little evidence Utah can win a tough road game, which means they'll probably lose @ BYU and @ UNLV. If Utah still fails to overcome road woes, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they lost at least three more road games, as well. If that were to happen, Utah would most likely finish with 13-losses, probably too many for an NIT berth. That leaves Utah in the tough position of beating the teams they should easily beat on the road -- which could prove difficult.
If I had to make a prediction, I think Utah wins all but one of their remaining home games, that loss coming to UNLV. On the road, they defeat Colorado State, Wyoming and TCU, but lose to Air Force, BYU and UNLV. Right now Utah is playing for conference tournament seeding and a respectable seed could give them an extra win. So, putting on my prediction cap -- which is rarely right, anyway -- Utah will finish the season with a 19-12 record, losing in the second round of the MWC Tourney. Now will that be good enough for an NIT berth? We'll see...