Utah Utes Looking To Close Regular Season Strong Against Struggling Colorado

Mar 6, 2020, 5:03 PM | Updated: 5:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Utes men’s basketball team will look to snap a two-game losing streak in their final game of the regular season against Colorado and heading to the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament on a positive note.

The Utes have just one senior on the roster in forward Marc Reininger. The Monument, Colorado native played 23 games in three seasons for Utah. He played 11 minutes and scored 4 points in the first meeting against the Buffaloes in Boulder.

Utah has a 15-14 overall record and are 6-11 in Pac-12 play while sitting in 11th place in the standings while riding a two-game losing streak. The Utes are 11-2 this season at home.

Colorado enters their regular season finale with a 21-9 overall record and 10-7 in conference play while in a four-way tie for third place in the Pac-12 standings. The Buffaloes have lost three straight games. They are 4-6 on the road this season.

The Utes lead the series against Colorado 17-14. Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah is 10-8 against the Buffs, including a 7-2 mark at the Huntsman Center.

These two teams met earlier this season in Boulder on January 12 where Colorado dominated the Utes 91-52.

Starting Lineup Changes

For most of the season when healthy, the Utes have started Rylan Jones, Both Gach, Timmy Allen, Riley Battin and Branden Carlson. But, with the recent struggles from the team by losing five of their last six games. Before their last game against California, head coach Larry Krystkowiak decided to move Battin and Gach to the bench and start Jaxon Brenchley and Mikael Jantunen.

In the first five minutes of the game in Berkeley, point guard Rylan Jones went out with a concussion and his status for Saturday is unknown. Both Gach took Jones’ minutes and had his best game since January, posting 19 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists on 7-11 shooting from the field and 2-4 from beyond the arc. He also made the two free throws that tied the contest and sent the game into overtime.

Timmy Allen has played very well in the last two games, scoring 17 and 26 points in the last two games respectively. He has also combined for 15 rebounds during that stretch.

A player that has provided a big spark off the bench for the Utes has been junior college transfer guard Alfonso Plummer who averaged 14.2 points per game in the last four contests. In the loss to Cal, Plummer scored a career-high 23 points.

Pac-12 Tournament Scenarios

If the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas started on Friday, Utah would be the 11th seed and would face the USC Trojans in the first round of the conference tournament. Colorado is currently tied with three other teams for third place with a 10-7 conference record.

A win for Utah and a loss for Washington State against Arizona State and also a loss for Oregon State against California would launch the Utes up two spots to No. 9.

For Colorado to clearly seal the No. 3 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, they will need to beat the Utes and have Arizona lose to Washington, as well as Arizona State falling to Washington State and UCLA picking up a win over USC.

NET Rankings

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. 85 in the NET ranking after their loss to California. Colorado is No. 23 in the NET rankings. The Utes are the 10th highest ranked team in the Pac-12 according to the NET rankings, while Colorado is third.

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

  • RPI – 66
  • SOR – 85
  • BPI – 121
  • KenPom – 114
  • Sagarin – 102

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

  • RPI – 16
  • SOR – 33
  • BPI – 31
  • KenPom – 28
  • Sagarin – 56

The Utes and Buffaloes will tip-off at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday with the game being televised on the Pac-12 Network.

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