The thing we’re focused on is what we can control, like usual. So we’re going to try to get ourselves geared up and try to get some of the bumps and bruises squared away and be ready to go at 5 o’clock on Saturday. —Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah enters the final day of Pac-12 play with a solid opportunity to secure a first-round bye in next week’s conference tournament in Las Vegas.
The Utes (18-10, 10-7) can lock up such a berth with a victory over Colorado Saturday in the Huntsman Center. They can also claim a third- or fourth-place finish with a loss and a combination of variables.
Utah is currently mired in a four-way tie for third with Stanford, UCLA and Washington. Oregon is one game back at 9-8. The Utes hold all the tiebreakers except for a head-to-head scenario with the Bruins, who get an edge by virtue of a victory over Arizona.
Confusing? It is. There are still several possible scenarios when it comes to overall seeding for the conference tournament. Utah could be slotted in anywhere from No. 3 to No. 6. The Utes, though, control their own destiny when it comes to a first-four seed.
“The thing we’re focused on is what we can control, like usual,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “So we’re going to try to get ourselves geared up and try to get some of the bumps and bruises squared away and be ready to go at 5 o’clock on Saturday.”
The Utes sit on the bubble, or perhaps just outside of it, when it comes to making the NCAA Tournament. Krystkowiak declined to speculate on what it will take for the Utes to earn a bid.
“A lot of that stuff is out of our control. We’re just going to focus on Colorado,” Krystkowiak said. “A lot of different things have to fall in place. Obviously, the bubble becomes larger is there are not as many upsets in conference tournaments, different things.”
Krystkowiak added that he feels like the Utes are going to catch a break. The best to do that, he explained, is to make their own breaks and do some damage. He’s convinced they can beat anyone in the conference.
“Somebody’s going to have to win three our four games in a row in Vegas, by default, and I have no reason to believe it can’t be us,” Krystkowiak said. “So beyond setting it a little bit low, we’re going to shoot high.”
Besides closing out the regular season, Utah is also celebrating its “Senior Day” with Gabe Bealer, Justin Bibbins, David Collette, Jake Connor and Tyler Rawson being honored in pregame ceremonies.
EXTRA STUFF: Colorado is just 1-9 on the road this season. The only win was a 68-59 decision at UCLA ... The Buffaloes lead the all-time series with Utah, 27-21. They defeated the Utes 67-55 in Boulder on Feb. 2 ... Utah has won five straight at home against Colorado, a streak that dates back to 2012 ... Freshman guard McKinley Wright leads the Buffs with 14.1 points and 5.4 assists per game.
Colorado (16-13, 8-9)
at Utah (18-10, 10-7)
Saturday, 5 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 700AM