4. Utah Utes - 9-2
Coach Craig Smith came into the season knowing he had one of the five best players in the Pac-12 in Branden Carlson. He’s looked like a star once again, leading the team with 16.8 ppg and 6.2 rpg. The big question was whether the supporting cast would be enough to have them on the right side of the conference standings.
So far, so good. Gabe Madsen is having his best season yet as a senior, averaging 14.2 ppg on 46% shooting from deep. Point guard Rollie Worster (10.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 6.2 apg) is filling up the stat sheet, while Keba Keita and Lawson Lovering have had a big impact in the frontcourt.
The Utes have wins over Wake Forest, BYU, and Saint Mary’s, while only having losses to Houston and St. John’s. They have a resume good enough to be in the tournament, while that victory over rival BYU is looking great. On a six-game win streak, this team has plenty of momentum heading into league play.
Up first for Utah are a pair of Washington schools in the Huskies and Cougars. The games are at home, setting them up for a possible great start to prove that the first couple of months weren’t flukes.