The University of Utah will play Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday, but it took most of Saturday to figure out the matchup.
Saturday marked the final day of the regular season in the Pac-12. The entire conference was in action, but Utah’s 74-72 overtime win over Colorado was the first result of the day.
The final buzzer sounded just after 2:30 p.m. At that point, the Utes were locked in as the No. 9 seed. Their eighth-seeded first-round opponent was dependent on results later in the afternoon.
Minutes after the Utes’ win, Larry Krystkowiak didn’t care much about who his team would play on Wednesday, but he did care about the tip-off time. As the No. 9 seed, Utah will have a noon local tip in Las Vegas. By comparison, the No. 10 seed will play at 6 p.m., while the No. 11 seed will tip at 8:30 p.m.
“We play the first game, which I love,” Krystkowiak said, noting that he turns into a mess, waiting for the game to start. "So, I get to wake up, have a little breakfast, then we get to tip off, similar to today.”
If Utah wins, its quarterfinal on Thursday vs. Pac-12 regular-season champion and No. 1 seed Oregon will also be at noon.
“I was always that way as a player,” said Krystkowiak, whose team finished 12-2 at the Huntsman Center, part of a 16-14 overall record and 7-11 in the Pac-12. “Nervous as a player, nervous as a coach. I know the minute the jump ball goes up, the nerves are gone. I know that’s going to happen every time, but I still can’t talk myself off the ledge.
“It’s hard hanging out in Vegas. You’re milling around all day and it seems like the last few years, we played the 8:30 game, the night game.”
In each of the past two seasons, Utah was the No. 3 seed, had a first-round bye, then lost to No. 6 Oregon in a quarterfinal that tipped at 8:30 p.m.
The Beavers, on paper, represent a manageable matchup. The Utes opened Pac-12 play on Jan. 2 with a decisive win over the Beavers, 81-69. Oregon State returned the favor on Feb. 13, winning at Gill Coliseum, 70-51.
The game in Corvallis featured the return of Both Gach, who came off the bench after missing the previous four games with a knee injury. Gach is currently on a tear, having shredded Colorado on Saturday for a career-high 28 points.
Much of Gach’s damage Saturday came at point guard with Rylan Jones out with a concussion. If Jones remains out on Wednesday, Oregon State could have its hands full. In the Jan. 2 meeting, Gach finished with 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting to go along with six rebounds.
At T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Wednesday, first round
(8) Oregon State vs. (9) Utah, 1 p.m.
(5) Arizona vs. (12) Washington, 3:30 p.m.
(7) Stanford vs. (10) Cal, 7 p.m.
(6) Colorado vs. (11) Washington State, 9:30 p.m.
Oregon State-Utah vs. (1) Oregon, 1 p.m.
Arizona-Washington vs. (2) UCLA, 3:30 p.m.
Stanford-Cal vs. (3) Arizona State, 7 p.m.
Colorado-Washington State vs (4) USC, 9:30 p.m.
Oregon State-Utah/Oregon vs. Arizona-Washington/UCLA, 7 p.m.
Stanford-Cal/Arizona State vs. Colorado-Washington State/USC, 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, championship game