Colorado Buffaloes vs. Utah Utes Pick & Prediction MARCH 14th 2024

Colorado coach Tad Boyle kept it simple assessing the stakes for Thursday night’s Pac-12 tournament quarterfinal matchup with Utah in Las Vegas.

“Win or go home,” he said. “You’re in the Pac-12 tournament, you lose, you’re done. You get to postseason play, you lose — you’re done.”

That might go double or even triple for the third-seeded Buffaloes (22-9). Six straight wins have pushed them to a bevy of “Last four in” lists by bracketologists.

A loss to the sixth-seeded Utes could push them off the bubble and toward a top seed in the three-letter tournament, a place no team wants to inhabit.

Colorado’s recent form suggests a team capable of getting to the NCAA field and maybe sticking around. The Buffs finished the regular season by sweeping their Oregon road trip, stopping Oregon State 73-57 Saturday in Corvallis as all five starters scored in double figures, led by 17 points and 11 rebounds from TCU transfer Eddie Lampkin.

Guard KJ Simpson is the main man for Colorado, earning first team all-conference honors after averaging 19.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists.

For Utah (19-13), there is but one path to the NCAA Tournament — winning the Pac-12 tournament title.

The Utes took a decisive first step in that direction late Wednesday night with a 90-57 blowout of Arizona State. The Utes led 47-22 at the half and never looked back.

Cole Bajema gave Utah a huge boost with a game-high 22 points, far above his average of 8.5, as he converted 6 of 9 3-pointers. Point guard Deivon Smith finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Utes made 59.3 percent from the field and 12 of 26 3-pointers.

“You got to have some tenaciousness to find a way to win four games in four days,” said Utah coach Craig Smith. “You got to have some depth and some star power. I don’t think anything will be surprising.”

The Buffs and Utes split their season series with each team winning at home. The winner meets Stanford or 22nd-ranked Washington State in a Friday night semifinal.

–Field Level Media

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