State your case: How many Utah teams will make the NCAA Tournament?
Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 23:02
Two of the six teams eligible will qualify for the NCAA.
It’ll be two of these three, in order of likelihood: Weber State, Utah and Utah Valley.
Weber State is clear and away the class of the Big Sky. The Wildcats are 10-2 in conference play. Southern Utah is 0-12 in the same conference, with the nine teams between them all 7-5, 6-6 or 5-7.
The Big Sky is pretty clear cut, so barring the upset bug, the Wildcats are a near lock to earn the automatic bid to the tournament, even if it likely means a low seed and first-round exit.
Utah will have a legitimate shot with 20 wins and a couple wins in the Pac-12 tournament. That’s the good news. The bad news is the Utes have yet to win a road game this season, and four of their final seven are on the road.
A win over No. 2 Arizona on Feb. 19 would bolster their resume a great deal, even within the friendly confines of the Huntsman Center.
Utah Valley is currently on top of the WAC, but it’s a weak conference. New Mexico State somehow has three conference losses, so UVU has a great shot at the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament, but the Aggies destroyed the Wolverines head-to-head, so UVU will need a stellar game against them or some outside help to win the auto bid.
Two of the three are going to get in. Unfortunately, USU won’t. Fortunately, BYU won’t. And SUU … well … 1-20. Enough said.
The state of Utah will only send one team to the Big Dance this year. While traditionally the state sends at least one, they will be lucky to do that this year. USU has shown too many faults in conference games to win their conference tournament this year.
Weber State has the best record in their conference but haven’t been completely dominant in wins. SUU is 1-20 this year, out of the picture completely. BYU has individual talent with players but can’t seem to put it together for team wins. UVU is winning their conference, but since this is the first year of the newly constructed WAC, they will come up short in the tournament due to inexperience.
The team with the most skilled roster in the state is the University of Utah. Although they are currently 5-6 in the Pac-12 play, they have lost those six games by a combined total of 26 points, with 11 of those points come from a loss to No. 1 Arizona. Two of the losses were to top-10 opponents, while the point margin in the conference wins is +61.
With the very close losses and the large point total in wins, the Runnin’ Utes have the experience to win in close games. Through the season, they have proved to be the best contenders in the state. To this point, the U has the best record in Utah college basketball at 16-7 and the best chance to run the tables in their conference tournament and earn a berth to March Madness.