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NCAA tournament 2016: Fresno State lands 14-seed in Midwest region, will face Utah

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The Bulldogs are dancing for the first time since 2001, but their first-round matchup will be a motivated opponent.

Marvelle Harris has at least one game left with Fresno State in the big dance.
Marvelle Harris has at least one game left with Fresno State in the big dance.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

MIDWEST REGION, FIRST ROUND - #14 Fresno State Bulldogs (25-9, 13-5 MWC) vs. #3 Utah Utes (26-8, 13-5 Pac-12)

WHEN: Thursday, March 17, 4:27 PM PST/5:27 PM MT

WHERE: Denver, CO

TV: TruTV

OFFICIAL SITES: GoBulldogs.com, the official site of Fresno State athletics | UtahUtes.com, the official site of Utah athletics

SERIES HISTORY: In their most recent clash, the Bulldogs traveled to Salt Lake City back in the 2013-14 season during non-conference play. The Utes defended their home court with a 90-77 victory. Utah also owns the overall series advantage, as well, by a 9-4 margin since 1992-93.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Fresno State earned the 2-seed in the Mountain West tournament and made good on their standing, beating UNLV, Colorado State and San Diego State to claim the conference's automatic berth. Utah also earned a 2-seed and bested USC and Cal in the conference tournament before falling to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship.

After toppling the Aztecs for a surprise berth in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, Fresno State's road to the national title begins with an old foe that will test the mettle of the Mountain West champs.

Both the Bulldogs and Utes built their resume upon defending their home court, as Fresno finished with a 16-2 record at the Save Mart Center and Utah went 16-1 in Salt Lake City. As the higher seed, it's no surprise that the Utes will enjoy the relative comforts of short travel, though a trip to Denver means that the Bulldogs avoid a cross-country trip to another destination like Providence, a reprieve they will surely enjoy.

The Utes will be eager to regroup on the court after being blown out by Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, an effort which might have propelled the Ducks to the 1-seed they earned this afternoon. The winner of this game will face the winner between 6-seed Seton Hall and 11-seed Gonzaga next Saturday.

For more on Utah basketball, be sure to stay tuned to Mountain West Connection and check out SB Nation's Utes blog, Block U.