Will these 2020 Utes make the Dance?

Josh Newman seems like a good hire for the Utah beat:

Q: What is your best guess as to whether the Utes will make the tourney and where you think they need to be in NET ranking to get there? — @UteManG

A: I know I reference the NET almost daily, but that’s merely because it is the metrics tool being used by the NCAA. The truth is, it is still too early to get up in arms about the NET. Case in point, San Diego State is currently No. 1. For the purposes of this exercise, Utah’s NET of 48 through Monday’s games is solid, certainly better than anyone may have projected at this point in the season.

I think it’s going to be hard for Utah to make the NCAA Tournament. I say that because the Utes are an exceptionally young group, and who knows how all that youth will fare going through an 18-game league schedule for the first time. The Quadrant 3 losses to Coastal Carolina and Tulane in November are resume anchors right now.

Now, I will hedge slightly and say that after Utah gets through this next road swing of Colorado-Arizona-Arizona State, the schedule will smooth out some. I think 9-9 or 10-8 against the Pac-12 puts the Utes in the bubble mix, but it has to be the right 9-9 or 10-8.

If I told Utah fans in October that this team, with the second-youngest roster in the country, winds up in the NIT, would they have signed?

Personally, I think a NIT trip would make this season a pretty good success.

If they can win 10-12 games in conference and win their way to the conference championship game, they have a shot. This might be a really tall order for the second-youngest team in Division I this season, playing in a power conference.


I think NIT is a fair bet. I don’t see NCAA tourney as a worthy goal. They’d just be a one and done team. Whereas I think NIT the team could get a win, maybe 2. I think that’d teach them more, IMO. Just more experience to work with for next season.


Hurt by the two bad losses down in South Carolina, but helped greatly by wins against Kentucky (using their actual name since we actually have scoreboard on them for the first time in over 40 years) and BYU, helped a bit by wins over Minnesota and at Nevada.

Have a lot of opportunities against quality PAC12 teams left.

But gut reaction we’re looking at NIT and then make a run at the NCAA next season.

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IMO If they win 10 games in conf, I think we squeak in. I don’t think the SC anchor losses won’t hold us back as much as our good wins will help us. If we win 10 games in conf, some of them have to be good wins and PAC’s non-conf strength is pretty good this year. 11+ wins, we are in.

That said, I’m not sure I disagree that NIT might be better for us. However THAT said, I will always take NCAA over the NIT even if it’s one and done.


Any NCAA appearance beats going to the NIT tourney no matter how far we go.


Look at Thrill’s quadrant analysis:


When I look at this, if I pencil in 10 wins and 8 losses in conf, it looks pretty decent to me. I suppose if we lost 7 of the 8 Q1 games, and won ever other game, that would be our worst case scenario, as that would leave us with only 2 Q1 wins. But our only Q3/4 losses would be the two preseason tourney games which were a long time ago for an acknowledged young team. It was literally the 4th and 6th games of many of these kids NCAA career. Meanwhile we’ll have stacks of Q2/3 wins, and probably some very close Q1 losses.

And if a few of those Q1 losses switch to wins, that Q1 win would help more than the Q2/3 loss it swaps out with hurts. The only thing that changes this is if some of these projected games switch quadrants. And that only happens if the PAC eats their own and everyone beating everyone drops some of those Q1 games.

Maybe my take on this is all wrong, but it’s all a moot point if we don’t get to 10 wins which I think will be a stretch for this team, but I think it’s doable.

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I really think they’ll start with a 1-4 mark in league. It’ll be tough to get to 10-8 after that. If they can get back home with even 1 more win in the next 4, then I’ll get my hopes up. If they win more than 1 of the next 4, then I’m pushing all in.


They will make it. Pussies.



To get there, I was figuring we needed at least one of the two against Colorado and ASU. I don’t think we beat Arizona, and didn’t figure we’d be Oregon (although we played them better than I expected).


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After the Colorado game I’m pretty sure getting into the NIT would be a triumph.

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If the Utes get to 11 wins in conference, we are 99% in. If they only get 10 then I think its more of a 50/50 chance. 9 wins would give them about a 1 in 9 shot to make the dance. Now, where are those wins going to come from? Hopefully, 3 from the LA teams, 2 from the Oregon schools, 2 from Cal, 1 from Stanford, 1 from the Washington teams, and 1 from the desert schools. We could possibly get another one from the Washington week or somewhere else, but tough to see that coming true. Plus, I think we will drop a game we shouldn’t.
The team currently has 4 wins and 3 losses in Quad 1 games. With a bunch more Quad 1 games coming up it may depend on WHO we beat as much as how many games we win.

Final prediction… I say Utah makes it as the 6th team from the PAC-12.

Now watch as Utah sweeps the Arizona schools just because.


I expect a hangover from our most recent blowout. The AZ teams have our number.