clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

No. 9 Utah a 3-Seed in ESPN Bracketology

The Pac-12's two top teams garnered a 2-seed (Arizona) and a 3-seed (Utah), but only four teams were selected for Lunardi's latest tournament projection.

It's not official, but the Runnin' Utes are climbing back into the big time with a 3-seed in's Bracketology projections.
It's not official, but the Runnin' Utes are climbing back into the big time with a 3-seed in's Bracketology projections.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 9 Runnin' Utes were listed as a three seed in the MidWest in's Bracketology by their resident expert on all things March Madness, Joe Lunardi. The current bracket has the Utes facing 14-seeded UC Santa Barbara. (That game has Utah ties, as former Runnin' Utes head coach Jerry Pimm left Utah for the Gauchos, turning that program into perennial contender for an NCAA berth.)

Arizona, Washington, and Stanford also made the tournament projections, but that was it for the Pac-12. Just four teams from the Conference of Champions, even while several lower seeds made deeper than expected runs last year.

Wisconsin, Kentucky, Duke, and Virginia were awarded the No. 1 seeds, and, as per usual, Utah was placed in the same bracket with Kentucky. If the actual seeding were to play out, Utah would meet the dreaded Wildcats in the regional final (although they'd have to get past another nemesis, Rick Pitino, in the semis).

Looking over the brackets, by the end of the season, Utah will have faced seven tournament teams (Arizona, Washington, Stanford, BYU, Wichita State, Kansas, and San Diego State). If you add in Wyoming, a team Utah dismantled in a scrimmage before the season, that's eight. This season's schedule should prepare the Utes for the kind of teams they'll meet in the tournament, but, of course, it's a matter of seeding as to how far the Utes can got. Matchups within those seeds will also be a determining factor.

As head coach Larry Krystkowiak says, not many teams in the tournament will have a competent big like freshman center Jakob Poeltl, let alone the kind of front line depth Utah has. But the NCAA tournament is a guard-oriented playoff, and Utah addressed both the talent and depth along their guard line with the incoming class. Freshman point guard Isaiah Wright has been playing well in recent games, allowing Delon Wright to get some rest. Kenneth Ogbe can be one of the better perimeter shooters on the team and has been driving to the hole for dunks lately, a new dimension to his game. Brandon Taylor has been one of the most dogged defenders on the team, as well as one of the most reliable outside shooters. And, of course, the backcourt is led by All America candidate Delon Wright who will be a handful for any team, especially the mid-majors trotting out 6-foot guard lines.