Game Day Preview – Utah


University of Utah (Public – Research Institution)
Mascot: Utes
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Enrollment: 30,800

Current Record: 4-10 (1-1 in Pac-12 Conference)
RPI: 270        SOS: 96Coach: Larry Krystkowiak (1st year)

First Thought: It’s now an even battle about who the worst team in Pac-8/10/12 history is between the Utah Utes and the 2008 Oregon State Beavers. Utah has a conference win, on Thursday over Washington State, which is something the 0-18 Pac-12 record (6-24 overall) 2008 Oregon State Beavers couldn’t do. Will Utah win 3 more games in the conference to surpass Oregon State’s 6-24 record?  The win also improved Utah’s 306 RPI up to 270, which is still well below the 219 RPI rating that Oregon State had that year. Maybe just playing some better teams will help Utah’s RPI, but not if they don’t win any of them.

Best Win: 72-67 over Portland (RPI 198)
Worst Loss: 70-64 to Montana State (RPI 311) – 73-33 loss to Colorado a close second.
Last Game: 62-60 win in overtime over Washington State (RPI 137)

Synopsis: You have to feel for Larry Krystkowiak. Guy comes in after a successful coaching stint at Montana (2 NCAA tournament appearances) and a coaching stint in the NBA and everyone at Utah suddenly leaves the team. He took over a roster with just 4 returning scholarship players and not much time to recruit. He did bring in 5 freshmen, plus got Seattle standout Aaron Dotson to transfer from LSU. Only 6 players are averaging more than 15 minutes per game, so the team doesn’t go very deep. To give himself a chance to build this team from the ground up, Coach K is redshirting a number of players and playing an almost all junior/senior lineup.

But, this year is a wasted year as he tries to implement his system amid team chemistry problems and turmoil. Coach K had to suspend their leading scorer, Josh Watkins for having a bad attitude and always being late. After their massive blowout at Colorado, he complained how many players have other priorities and are showing up late to team events.

My analysis: Utah is lead by the 15 ppg of 6’0″ senior guard Josh Watkins and the 11.2 ppg and 7 rbs of 7’0″ junior center Jason Washburn. Aziz will have the main duty inside of neutralizing Washburn, while it seems the duty of guarding the quick Watkins will be on either Cj Wilcox or Tony Wroten. 6’4″ swing man Cedric Martin does not have many stats (6.5 ppg, 2.5 rbs, 1.4 assists) despite playing 29 minutes per game. So, not sure what he brings to the table, but Coach K seems to like him. Maybe he’s a good defender? Anyways, it seems pretty obvious the Huskies should run them out of the building and if they key in on Watkins and Washburn, they should have no trouble holding the Utes to under 50. The key question is whether UW will score over 100.

But, after that embarrassing loss to Colorado on Thursday, it hard to know what the Huskies will bring today. Will they be angry and focused and blow Utah away? Or will the early morning start, empty arena, and poor play catch up with them and result in a surprising close game and maybe a loss? We’ve seen both from these Huskies the last couple of years. They are unpredictable.

My Prediction: UW 93 Utah 51