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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 - What's at stake for the Utes?

With a 63-59 win over California on Wednesday night, Utah's put itself in a position not many would've believed to be possible a month ago.

A win on Saturday over Stanford will give the Utes a more than decent chance at finishing fourth in the Pac-12 and garnering a bye to the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament next week.

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That's.....amazing.

A month ago, Utah was 3-6 in the league, coming off an overtime loss to Colorado, and having another one of those close-but-no-cigar kind of seasons.

Now here's the raw data: The Utes are 6-2 in the second half of the Pac-12 season. They are a team that absolutely nobody wants to see in the league tournament. And while their computer numbers are terrible, can the NCAA Tournament selection committee discount that this team has five RPI top-50 wins? Or that three of those wins have come consecutively?

Larry Krystkowiak on Wednesday night said his team - for once - looked very confident down the stretch against the Bears.....like they knew they would be the team making the plays when it counted.

And that's how they played. Brandon Taylor made the big free-throws and the big 3-pointer. Utah made all of its freebies in the last few minutes and won a game that Wright and Jordan Loveridge combined to shoot 6-27 in.

So a win over Stanford makes this a team with a very favorable conference tournment draw. Lose, and the Utes seem destined for the 8-9 game and Arizona in the quarterfinal round.

That's how much one win means.

That's how big Saturday's matchup is with the Cardinal.

Let the games - or the game - begin.

Tony Jones



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