#3 Utah vs. #14 Fresno State
The Utes will be lead by Pac-12 Player of the Year Jakob Poeltl, during the regular season Poeltl averaged 17.6 PPG and 9.0 RPG. If the Utes want a shot at the Final Four, the sophomore is going to have to average double-double figures for them to be successful. Utah was ranked number 6 in the RPI prior to Saturday’s game against Oregon. The school could have experienced its first Pac 12 Conference Championship but was defeated by Oregon by 31 points. This team has the ability to make the Final Four. This years seniors were part of Coach Krystkowiak’s first full recruiting class. This team has gone through a lot, from winning three conference games in 2012 to being the number three seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The seniors of the lineup are lead by Jordan Loveridge, Brandon Taylor, and Dakarai Tucker. Taylor was a player who went under the radar out of high school and now is ranked 5th all time in assists. Loveridge was a highly recruited forward and is now the 13th scorer in history. Tucker provides valuable minutes off the bench for the Utes. The Midwest is a region that the Utes will be able to handle to make a trip to the Final Four
Fresno State Bulldogs:
The Bulldogs had punched their ticket to the dance when they defeated San Diego State 68-63 and won the Mountain West Conference. The Bulldogs are hot, winning 8 games in a row to end the regular season. Leading the Bulldogs is Mountain West Player of the Year and senior Marvelle Harris. Harris averaged 20.6 points per game this regular season. The guard has had a special career at Fresno State, and will be draft eligible this upcoming June. The Bulldogs will have to take advantage of Utah’s poor three-point defense. But Fresno does have poor defense, having low block rates and send their opponents to the free throw line a lot. Going against one of the best big men in the country will not help their problem. Along with Harris the Bulldogs will look to forward Karachi Edo and guard Julien Lewis this upcoming Thursday. Edo averages 9.9 PPG and 6.4 RPG. Lewis has been hot lately scoring double figures in the last four of five games. Fresno State will have their hand full with the Utes, but a big game from Harris along with excellent outside shooting could put the Utes on upset alert.
Fresno State will come out with a lot of energy and put a scare into Utah in the first half. But Jakob Poeltl will have a big game and continue his dominance down low. Utah is hungry for a deep run in this year’s tournament. Utah wins by 10 or more this round.