Please welcome the Utah Utes to the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Just a few weeks ago, the Utes had the same chance of going to the Big Dance as any human had recognizing actress Kim Novak at the Oscars.
Now sitting at 19-9 overall, the Utes were ranked in the hundreds in the last installment but now Joe Lunardi of ESPN’s Bracketology now has the Utes as a bubble team as of Monday, March 3 -- adding to the drama that is March Madness.
Of course, Utah still has more work to do in order to make it into the NCAA Tournament.
At No. 85 overall in the Ratings Percentage Index, a key component used by the NCAA Tournament Committee to accept teams, the Utes are still nowhere near where they need to be.
Utah also has work to do this week, starting with a must-win game at No. 51 Cal before traveling to Stanford, a team ranked No. 39 in the latest RPI
Should the Utes defeat the Bears and Cardinal this week it essentially gives the Utes six wins versus Top 50 RPI teams against six losses.
Not only that, the Utes would likely move nearer towards the RPI Top 50 based on defeating two Top 50 RPI teams in one week.
Upsetting both Cal and Stanford on the road could also catapult Utah out of a potential Pac-12 Basketball Tournament match-up next week against a higher seed.
Who knows? With a little help from Colorado -- whom the Utes beat this past weekend -- the Utes could also earn a first-round bye.
Only the top four teams in the Pac-12 standings will receive first-round byes -- the Utes are sitting at No. 8 overall as of Monday, March 3.
The one bugaboo against the Utes in its quest to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in several years could be its strength of schedule (SOS). Utah’s SOS is No. 101.
But two wins this week -- along with a deep run at the conference tourney in Las Vegas -- could have the Utes looking at the Big Dance.