The No. 19-ranked Runnin' Utes are in the Big Dance for the first time since 2009, in which they were also a five-seed. It was a foregone conclusion Utah was going to be in the tournament, but where and at what line would the Utes be playing? The Utes landed at the dreaded five line, playing a team many national pundits have beating Utah, Stephen F. Austin.
Just asking some of our friends from around the country and the region, we had, as you might imagine, a variety of opinions.
|Dave Fox (KUTV Talkin' Sports)||Sweet 16 (beating SFA and Georgetown), losing to Duke|
|Steve Tate (former Utah safety, financial advisor)||Sweet 16 (beating SFA and Georgetown), losing to Duke|
|Braden Gall (Athlon Sports)||Round of 64, losing to Stephen F. Austin|
|Shane Roberts (BlockU.com)||Sweet 16 (beating SFA and Georgetown), losing to Duke|
|Alex Stark (BlockU.com)||Round of 32 (beating SFA), losing to Georgetown|
|Steven Ford (BlockU.com)||Round of 32 (beating SFA), losing to Georgetown|
Those who have listened to our Round of 64 preview on The U Fan Cast will know that I'm not seeing a Stephen F. Austin upset. Whatever national pundits are seeing, I'm just not seeing. I will, however, admit I haven't seen the Lumberjacks play. But looking at their strength of schedule, conference RPI, and the fact that they lost to the only three tournament teams they faced, Northern Iowa (five-seed), Baylor (three-seed, and upset in the Round of 64), and Xavier (six-seed and, as I'm writing this, crushing the play-in game's Ole Miss). One team who may have been a bit overrated, Baylor, and two other teams seeded right around Utah. Stephen F. Austin lost at home by two in overtime to UNI, but they dropped by 18 at Baylor and 16 at Xavier. The game wreaks of blowout, given Utah regularly beat opponents by 20+, so I have them moving on from round one.
Round two, on the other hand, I see as a roadblock. Having watched Georgetown early in the season, I got the feeling G-town would wreck some brackets. I figured they wouldn't win enough in the Big East to get a high seed, which would make them a dangerous lower seed. That turned out to be wrong, as they garnered the seed line Utah wanted, a four. Outside of Kentucky (for obvious reasons) and Louisville (for equally obvious reasons - Pitino), the G men were the ones I hoped Utah would avoid. Now... that is not to say Eastern Washington couldn't pull the upset, but I highly doubt it.
What makes Georgetown so dangerous? They're long, fast, and athletic. They're not big. They're not particularly great shooters. They don't play tremendous defense, but the fly around and turn the game into an up and down affair that Utah hasn't done well with. ::cough, cough - Oregon:: They say that the NCAA Tournament is all about matchups, and the second round looks like a bad one for the Utes. That's where I have their stop sign posted for this season.
How far do you have the Utes going in your brackets? Post below and let tell us what you think about this year's NCAA Tournament run.