All the whining about seeding, all the claims of disrespect, all the rants about a team being overrated, all the elation of just getting in... all the emotions experienced by players, coaches, and fans alike are over. Today, it's time to tipoff and see just who is worthy and who is not. Several teams have already gone down, including BYU, Ole Miss, Baylor, Iowa State, and SMU. Cinderella is alive and well in UAB, Georgia State, and, believe it or not, UCLA.
At 5:27 tonight, Utah gets their chance to prove they belong. The No. 19-ranked Runnin' Utes haven't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2009 when they were upset as a five-seed by Arizona. Utah hasn't won a tournament game since 2005.
Lose to the 12-seeded Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin, and fans may question the Utes preparation, especially late in the season. Did they peak too early? Did they get complacent? Did the coaching staff not get the team ready to play? Win, and Utah at least proves they earned their seeding and are a legitimate power conference team. Is Utah "back"? That would be a question left for the second round of the tournament.
But it's time to lace 'em up, and get ready to jump and run. It's win or go home time. It's March Madness, the Big Dance, and the Utes have on their dancing shoes. Can they survive to dance another day?