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Monson: NCAA Tournament odds for BYU and Utah are a long stretch of the imagination

First Published      Last Updated Feb 18 2017 10:29 pm


It's not a pretty picture, the collective image of college basketball in the state this year. Not as far as prospects for the postseason go. The Marches past of multiple teams from multiple schools making the NCAA Tournament, or having a reasonable shot at making the tournament, are mostly vapor now that haunts what is likely to happen this time around.

Without winning their respective league tournaments, no Utah team is ticketed for the Madness. Utah … no. BYU … negative. Utah State … nope. Weber State … nein. Utah Valley … not happening. In review of much of the bracketology out there, Weber State is the only school positively mentioned, and, in order to gain inclusion, the Wildcats must win that Big Sky tournament.




This is not to say the season has been a waste.

The Utes have had some moments, some moments of growth, some moments when observers had to admit that Utah might actually be more advanced than expected. There just haven't been enough of those, not enough of them with much impact, to project anything extraordinary for the Utes in the Pac-12 tournament.

At this writing, Utah was sixth in the league standings, with a record of 8-6, 17-9 overall. There is no signature win in the Utes' resume, and no authentic chance for happy surprises. The pounding they received at Oregon punctuated any opportunity for a wow moment in the regular season, which leaves them with only a hoisted trophy in Vegas as a means for anything significant thereafter. Chances for an NCAA bid: 15 percent.

BYU, headed into its matchup with Saint Mary's in the Marriott Center on Saturday night, sat at 19-9 overall, 10-5 in the West Coast Conference. That's well south of what many had expected for the Cougars, with their fistful of former Top 100 recruits.

There have been games when BYU's high-powered offense dissipated and games when its defense was invisible. Infamous losses to Utah Valley and San Diego and Pepperdine and Santa Clara have made remote hopes for an invitation to the NCAA Tournament, short of that WCC tournament title. As bad as the Cougars have been, at times, it's easy to suspect there might be something more down in the inner bowels of this team. But then, if that talent is buried too deep, counting on its emergence in a couple of weeks might be left to dreamers and fools. Chances for an NCAA bid: 10 percent.

Utah State was treading the swim at 11-14 overall, 5-9 in the Mountain West at Saturday's dawn. The less-than-large wins in November, over the likes of Southern Virginia, Bristol and Idaho State, as well as more recent wins over Wyoming, Nevada and Fresno State, have pretty much been neutralized by defeat at the hands of Colorado State, New Mexico and Boise State. Chances for an NCAA bid: 3 percent.

Weber State was a half-game ahead of North Dakota on Saturday morning for first place in the Big Sky standings, sitting at 11-2, 16-8 overall. The Wildcats have a tough stretch of regular-season games still ahead, but little of that matters at this juncture since only the league tournament winner will go dancing. Chances for an NCAA bid: 40 percent.

Utah Valley was 11-4 overall, 3-7 in the Western Athletic Conference, trailing Cal State Bakersfield, New Mexico State, Grand Canyon, UMKC, and Seattle in the standings. That leaves the program looking back at the win at BYU as its season highlight. Chances for an NCAA bid: 2 percent.

On the women's side, BYU is the state's only decent bet. The Cougars, before Saturday's game against Saint Mary's, were 17-9 overall, 11-4 in the WCC, one game behind Gonzaga, an opponent that beat the Cougars a couple of weeks back by 35 points. In that game, played on the road, BYU shot 29 percent. Since that time, the Cougars have hit 48 percent, 50 percent, 57 percent, and 48 percent. Chances for an NCAA bid: 45 percent.

There is one bonus: Even if none of the local teams get in, NCAA Tournament games will be available to local fans, with first- and second-round games played at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 16 and 18. So, there is that.

GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM. Twitter: @GordonMonson.

 

AT A GLANCE

Guess who’s coming for basketball

NCAA Tournament projections as of Friday for what first-round matchups will be held in Salt Lake City;

» ESPN > Midwest region, 6-St. Mary’s vs. 11-Arkansas; Midwest region, 3-Arizona vs. 14-Florida Gulf Coast; West region, 1-Gonzaga vs. 16-Weber State; West region, 8-Southern Cal vs. 9-Iowa State


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