Utah Faces Tough Challenge Against Underrated Stanford

Feb 4, 2020, 3:44 PM
Stanford Cardinal forward KZ Okpala (0) shoots over Utah Utes forward Timmy Allen (20) for a 3-poin...
Stanford Cardinal forward KZ Okpala (0) shoots over Utah Utes forward Timmy Allen (20) for a 3-point attempt during the game between the Utah Utes and the Stanford Cardinals on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, CA. (Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah men’s basketball team will return home on Thursday night in hopes of snapping a two-game losing streak against a team that is underrated in the Stanford Cardinal.

Stanford is regarded as a team that is underrated because they haven’t had a difficult non-conference schedule but after their win over No. 11 Oregon on Saturday, the Cardinal look like contenders to win the Pac-12 title.

They hold a 16-5 overall record and a 5-3 Pac-12 record, sitting in a tie for fourth place in the conference standings and are one game behind Oregon for the top spot.

The Utes are 12-9 overall and 3-6 in conference play, but are in 10th place in the Pac-12 standings, 3.5 games behind the top spot.

The all-time series lead favors Utah against Stanford 17-10. Since joining the Pac-12, the Utes are 7-6 against the Cardinal, including a 6-1 record at home. Utah has won the last three meetings and four of the last five over Stanford.

Utes Need To Sweep Northern California Teams

The Utes have dug themselves a bit of a whole after losing to one of the worst teams in the Pac-12 on Sunday in UCLA. Utah has a prime chance to get a Quad 1 win at home over a team that is ranked high in the NET rankings.

Timm Allen struggled in the Southern California trip, scoring 26 points in two games, along with 16 rebounds and 11 assists. He shot just 10-36 from the field and attempted just 6 free throws combined in the two losses to USC and UCLA.

Starting shooting guard Both Gach did not play in either game in Los Angeles as he is dealing with a leg injury.

Utah needs to win these next two games in order to gain momentum for their next road trip against the Oregon schools next week.

Stanford Has Momentum

The Cardinal had a great start to their Pac-12 schedule with four straight wins. Recently, they went on a three game losing streak before snapping the skid against then-No. 11 Oregon on Saturday afternoon in Palo Alto.

They are led by the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week in junior forward Oscar Da Silva who is averaging 16.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while shooting the third best field goal percentage in the Pac-12 at 61.6 percent. He scored a career-high 27 points, along with 15 rebounds in their win over Oregon.

Da Silva is more of a traditional back-to-the-basket type player who can really cause problems for opponents on the offensive end of the floor.

Freshman Tyrell Terry is averaging 15.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Stanford is very good on the boards but also have a lot of length to be a problem on the defensive end.

Utah’s NCAA Tournament Hopes

Part of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee process is the information compiled from five major metrics, the NET rankings, the three metrics from ESPN, including Strength of Record, BPI and RPI. The final two metrics that are used are the rankings from KenPom and Sagarin.

Utah is ranked No. 82 in the NET ranking after dropping one spot after their loss to UCLA. Stanford is No. 23 in the NET rankings after their win over No. 11 Oregon. The Utes are the ninth highest ranked team in the Pac-12 according to the NET rankings, while Stanford is fourth.

Here is where the other metrics have the Utes this week:

  • RPI – 70
  • SOR – 74
  • BPI – 124
  • KenPom – 118
  • Sagarin – 98

For Stanford, here is where the other metrics have them ranked:

  • RPI – 33
  • SOR – 54
  • BPI – 54
  • KenPom – 36
  • Sagarin – 54

Also, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee uses the Quadrant system where they put the opponent in a quadrant depending on their five ratings in their major metrics. Entering the game against Stanford, Utah is 2-6 against Quadrant 1 opponents. Their six losses came against Oregon, San Diego State, Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and USC, while their two wins coming against BYU and Kentucky in Las Vegas.

The Utes are 3-1 against Quadrant 2 teams with wins over Nevada, Minnesota and Washington, with their only loss against UCLA. In Quadrant 3, Utah is 2-2 with both losses coming against Tulane and Coastal Carolina in the Myrtle Beach Invitational and their two wins coming against Oregon State and Washington State. The Utes are 5-0 in Quadrant 4 with wins over Ohio, UC Davis, Weber State, Central Arkansas and Mississippi Valley State.

Stanford has a 2-3 record in Quadrant 1, beating Oregon and Oklahoma but lost to USC, Butler and Kansas. They are 2-0 in Quadrant 2, beating Washington and UCLA. The Bruins have a 6-2 record in Quadrant 3 with their wins coming against San Francisco, Santa Clara, Washington State, California, Montana and William & Mary. Their two losses were against Oregon State and California. The Cardinal are 6-0 in Quadrant 4 with victories over San Diego, Cal State Fullerton, San Jose State, Long Beach State, UNCW and UMES.

The Utes and Cardinal will square off on Thursday evening at 8 p.m. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.

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