UTAH UTES

Utah Basketball Hoping To Play More Games In Postseason

Mar 15, 2024, 9:00 AM

LAS VEGAS – The sting of defeat can be harsh and that certainly was the case after the Runnin’ Utes did everything they could against Colorado but came up short.

There was a certain amount of finality that once more Utah will miss the NCAA Tournament.

Perhaps an even more heart-wrenching realization, one of the greatest players to come through the program in recent memory will have gone through his entire career without dancing.

Even with those realities sinking in, there still is a small glimmer of hope for the Utes to play more games together in the NIT- something head coach Craig Smith and players Gabe Madsen and Branden Carlson were all in on.

 

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Runnin’ Utes Will Get Over Sting Of Missing NCAA Tournament

Smith was quick to acknowledge how tough it is knowing guys who have dedicated everything to being Utes will miss out on one of the greatest events in sports: March Madness.

“March Madness is a special thing,” Smith said. “BC is a fifth-year guy and Gabe has the opportunity to play five years because of Covid. These guys grow up dreaming to play in March Madness and grow up dreaming of playing in games like this- a world class facility and you only get five years or four years of your life to do it.”

“The amount of sacrifice and discipline and work- everything that goes into it and then when you find out you’re not going to make the NCAA Tournament is just like that,” Smith continued. “There is a lot that goes into that, so it’s really hard. This team has had to go through a lot of different things throughout the year. It’s hard when it’s final.”

Despite The Disappointment, The Utes Still Want To Play Together

Utah’s season likely isn’t over yet, though their NCAA Tournament dreams are.

If all goes well, the Runnin’ Utes will get an invite to the NIT. While it’s not the Big Dance, it’s better than sitting on the couch. That is especially true for a team that loves each other the way the Utes do.

“Yeah, of course,” Gabe Madsen said of the opportunity to play in the NIT. “Nobody wants- this team has been through so much and for it to just be done would suck. I just really love this team and as many times as you play basketball, I feel like that is a good thing.”

 

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Teammate Branden Carlson agreed. He just wants to play as many games as he can.

“I mean, yeah,” Carlson said. “I play because I love the sport and I want to play as long as I can. Whatever it is- you play for the games.”

As for coach Smith, he was a little blown away and encouraged at the response from his guys at the idea of playing in a different postseason tournament.

“At the end of the day not playing in the NCAA Tournament is hard,” Smith said. “I didn’t even bring up being able to play more basketball. To hear these guys say that- without us- we haven’t even talked about it. These guys love to play, and they love to compete. Some guys love to play, they don’t love to compete. When you love the game, and you love competition, and you love what that brings- hopefully we’ll have that opportunity.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Utah Basketball Hoping To Play More Games In Postseason