The Utes are squarly on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, and while they don’t control their own destiny to get into the Big Dance, outside of winning the Pac-12 tournament, they are at least in the conversation to get in, which I couldn’t have said earlier this season. The Utes have played really well over the last 6 or so weeks, and have dug themselves out of a bit of a hole that they put themselves in earlier in the season. Now that the season is coming to a close the question a lot of fans have is how close are the Utes to the Dance? Well, pretty close.
There are a ton of bracket “experts” out their with their bracketology, but the two biggest have the Utes just on the outside looking in. CBS has Utah as one of the “First Four Out,” along with Syracuse, Washington and Marquette. They are behind Louisville, Providence, Texas and Alabama. ESPN.com has the Utes in the “Next Four Out,” along with Mississippi State, Marquette and Notre Dame. They’re behind Syracuse, Nebraska, Washington and UCLA in the “First Four Out,” and Providence, USC, Louisville and Texas as the “Last Four In.” It’s interesting to see how similar the two are in who they have where, but Joe Lunadri with ESPN is scary good at his bracketology, so I’d lean toward believing his a bit more than CBS. What both tell me, however, is that Utah just needs a little help from the likes of Marquette, Louisville, or Syracuse to slide up.
What Utah realistically needs to do, at least in my opinion, is beat CU (obvious) and the get to at least the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament. If they do that, then I think they’re on the edge of getting in. If they get to a final, I think they do slide in. I’m impressed by the resilience of this team this year. I’ve had them pegged as a lock NIT team from go, and they have surpassed my expecations. A couple of ugly losses really set them back, but they’ve really come together and have played good ball. I think Larry K is the coach of the year in the league, but we’ll dive into that a bit more later on.