NCAA Preview: Utah Utes

Posted by jstevrtc on March 18th, 2009

Utah (#5, Midwest, Miami pod)

vs Arizona (#12)
Fri., 3/20 at 7:10 pm
Vegas line:  -1


Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Conference: Mountain West, automatic.
Coach: Jim Boylen, hired 2007.  Record at UU = 42-24
08-09 Record: 24-9 (12-4)
Last 12 Games: 10-2, won 4.
Best Win: vs Gonzaga, 66-65, on 12/31/08.
Worst Loss: Southwest Baptist (Div. 2), 79-80, on 11/15/08.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 110.5 (50th)
Def. Efficiency Rating: 90.7 (21st)

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Luke Nevill (16.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.7 bpg)
Unsung Hero: Luka Drca – 7.8 ppg and he leads team in assists (3.5 apg).
Potential NBA Draft Pick: Luke Nevill is currently listed at 60th (final pick of 2nd round) on mock draft at
Key Injuries: No significant injuries.
Depth: 21.8% (325th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Aggression on defense.  UU forces opponents to only 10.4 turnovers/game, which is 338th of 341 D1 teams nationally.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: They shoot like they have been and they get to the line.  The Utes led the MWC in every shooting category, including a 78.2 FT%, which ranks third in the nation.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Nevill is left to do all of the work.  The supporting cast has to make its presence felt and make Arizona guard five people instead of one.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2005; lost to Kentucky in the Sweet 16.
Streak: One year.
Best NCAA Finish: National Champion in 1944.
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.26

Distance to First Round Site: 2539 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: Playing host to many events in the 2002 Winter Olympics; renowned for contributions to the field of genetics/genealogy.
School Wishes It Could Forget: The University of Kentucky, to whom the Utes have lost a total of SIX TIMES in the NCAA Tournament, including the 1998 title game AND the preceding two tournaments in the Elite 8 and Sweet 16, respectively.  Also, two physicists there said they had achieved cold fusion back in 1989, but were quickly discredited.
Prediction: People will be salivating to pick Arizona as a 12 upsetting a 5 largely because they haven’t heard much about Utah this year.  But the Utes look like they’re peaking at the right time and should prevail at least in the first round in a great matchup.  If they continue to shoot well, the sky’s the limit after that.

Preview written by Rush The Court.

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