1996 & 1997 didn't end as happily as many had hoped
As we continue with the madness, we move on to the second game of the first round.
This is actually a pretty good match-up, in my opinion. Both 1996 and 1997 were similar, however, 1997 gets the slight edge.
They get the edge because this was the first true dominant Utah team of the Majerus era. They rolled through the WAC and even climbed as high as second nationally prior to the NCAA Tournament. They also spent a good portion of the 1996-1997 season in the top-ten.
Because of this, they earned a school best second seed to the tournament and were favored to push through their way to the region finals.
Sure enough, that's exactly what they did.
Utah opened that tournament with a rather easy win over Navy, took out Charlotte in the second round and then knocked off Stanford in a very tight Sweet Sixteen game. But as is common place it seems in the NCAA Tournament, the Utes' season ended in the Elite Eight at the hands of Kentucky.
The Wildcats would go on to lose to Arizona in the national championship.
1997, at that time, was arguably the most accomplished Utah team in program history. Who would have expected 1998 to shatter that?
1996, though, was the beginning of it all. Well 1995 I guess could be considered the start. However, 1996 established the Utes as a deep tournament threat in the late-90s.
They had started that season in the top-ten and entered the tournament ranked 12th nationally. They also received a four-seed and easily pushed their way through the first two rounds. In the Sweet Sixteen, however, that pesky Kentucky team once again put an end to any hope of a championship. This time, it wasn't very close. Utah lost 101-70.
Damn those Wildcats.
So, let's vote...