With two weeks until the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament, there is still plenty to be decided in the league.
One prognosticator sees bright things ahead for Utah.
In his latest Pac-12 power rankings for The Mercury News, Jon Wilner of the Bay Area News Group made several predictions, from league player of the year to the number of conference teams that will make the NCAA Tournament. He also picked the Utes as his champion for the upcoming conference tournament.
“I’m not convinced Arizona will defend with the consistency necessary over three days; USC’s challenges are steep without Bennie Boatwright; and UCLA relies too heavily on one player (Aaron Holiday),” Wilner wrote.
“I considered picking Oregon but opted for the Utes because of their bye into the quarterfinals. The Ducks probably will have to play in the opening round, creating a far more arduous path to the title.”
See Wilner’s other predictions and his latest power rankings for The Mercury News here.
Before they get to the league tournament, though, there are still three regular-season games for the Utes. That includes home contests against UCLA and USC this week, as well as the regular-season home finale against Colorado a week from Saturday.
Utah, on a four-game winning streak, is fighting its way into the at-large NCAA tournament discussion with its recent hot play. Several teams from the Pac-12 find themselves in the NCAA bubble watch talks right now, including the Utes, UCLA, USC and Washington.
ESPN’s John Gasaway tackled the Pac-12’s current dilemma for the upcoming NCAA tournament in his latest bubble watch article, saying the league could have as little as two teams (Arizona and Arizona State) make the NCAA tourney, or earn as many as six spots in the tournament.
And Utah is right in the middle of all the action.
“Then there’s the case of Utah, which might present the most interesting example. The Utes currently appear to be a step below the Trojans, Bruins and Huskies in terms of their tournament profile,” Gasaway wrote.
“Be that as it may, Utah might be the hottest team in the league right now. The Utes have won four straight games and will be playing at home for their final three regular-season games. A 12-6 finish in Pac-12 play is a real possibility.”
Sports Illustrated’s Michael Beller puts Utah in his “On the Fringe” category when discussing the latest bubble watch outlook.
“The Utes likely need to win out — which also includes a game against Colorado next week — to have a realistic shot at an at-large bid,” Beller wrote.
5 Newcomers to watch for the Utah Utes in 2018 (Athlon Sports)
Basketball season hasn’t even ended, and it’s already time to start thinking about another sport. Earlier this week, the Utah Athletics Twitter account shared the date for the annual Red-White spring football game.