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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Utah basketball - Beware the bid stealer

There will be plenty of Oregon fans on Friday night when the Ducks face Utah in the Pac-12 semifinals.

Those fans won't only be at MGM Grand Garden Arena. They will be all over the country.

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Every single team nationally on the NCAA Tournament bubble wants - needs - the Utes to lose.

You see, Utah is what you call a potential bid stealer. Those are the teams that struggle through the regular-season and then win a conference tournament. Those are the teams that have zero chance to go dancing without an automatic berth, the teams who don't make the postseason without making magic before the magic.

Utah is that team. Hot-shooting. Playing good defense. The Utes are the big stealer. They are dangerous.

When a team in Utah's position actually wins the tournament, the committee simply gives that team a spot it would give to an otherwise bubble team. That's how the bubble shrinks. So if the Utes were to somehow win two more games - a tall, tall task - one team on the fence gets knocked off.

That means, Utah will have some enemies tomorrow night?

Who are those teams? A list includes the likes of Tennessee, and Boise State, and Virginia, and Villanova. They are teams like Minnesota, and even Arizona State from the Pac-12, although the Sun Devils have little hope of getting a big to the dance.

Teams like the above mentioned are those who lose early in the conference tournament and don't have anymore control of their fate.

So, yes. Utah will be an unpopular team in many circles. If the Utes somehow defeat Oregon on Friday night? There will be a lot of sweating on Saturday night by a lot of teams.

Tony Jones



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