From four to three: Why the Runnin’ Utes need to move up to a better seed for the NCAA Tournament

Although a loss in college basketball doesn’t hurt you nearly as much as it does in college football, a loss for the U basketball team may significantly hurt its chances to do something special in the tournament.

As of now, ESPN’s bracketology (which means absolutely nothing) has the Utes pegged as a No. 4 seed.

You may think to yourself, “Wow, that’s amazing that the Utes have climbed so high and have a very good opportunity to reach the Sweet 16 and make some noise in the tournament….”

I had the same thought as well when I saw the progression of the Utes in the poll; however, a No. 4 seed is completely different from a No. 3 seed. If the Utes keep winning and other teams keep losing, who knows?

What’s the big difference?

The obvious difference is that, barring any upsets, the No. 4 seed will most likely play the No. 1 seed in the Sweet 16, which makes for a far tougher matchup in order to reach the Elite Eight.

In ESPN’s bracketology (there is no science to it, this is just to give you a general idea of what could happen), the Utes would probably play Kansas in the Sweet 16.

Although playing the No. 1 seed is a concern for a No. 4 seed, it isn’t the biggest concern. Why? Because the No. 2 seeds are not much worse than the No. 1 seeds. If you switch Utah and Louisville, the No. 3 seed, in ESPN’s bracket, the Utes would get to play Duke in the second round. Yippee.

The biggest problem I see in earning the No. 4 seed instead of the No. 3 seed is the second-round matchup.

If the No. 4 seed wins its first-round matchup, then it will most likely have to play the No. 5 seed. The No. 5 seed in ESPN’s bracket is UCONN. That matchup is by no means an easy one, and the Utes may even find themselves as an underdog if that matchup came to fruition.

Even though the No. 1 seeds are not much better than the No. 2 seeds, the gap between the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds is wider.

ESPN has UCONN, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma listed as the No. 5 seeds, while Cincinnati, Florida, Georgetown and Texas Tech are the No. 6 seeds.

The rise to a No. 3 seed, however, will be a difficult task to undertake. The Utes would need teams like Louisville, Washington, Syracuse, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Alabama or Gonzaga to lose a couple of games and then they may have a chance at the No. 3.

Also, a Ute loss would really hurt, since it would probably take them out of a No. 5 seed. The Utes aren’t exactly playing quality opponents for the rest of the season. It is the MWC, what do you expect?

The MWC tournament may also be a must-win situation for the Utes, but the committee may be a little more lenient in that situation, especially since many good teams lose during championship week.

Colorado State, Wyoming, Air Force, New Mexico, BYU and San Diego State are left on the schedule for the Utes, with only two of those games on the road. One of those road games, however, is at Air Force, which is probably the toughest game left for the Utes.

It would be funny if the Utes did get a No. 3 seed, because Kentucky looks like it will get a No. 2. So, is anyone up for some payback?

[email protected]