Fresno State is taking on No. 3 seed Utah Utes out of the Pac-12, but what does everyone know about the former Mountain West member? Utah has a future lottery pick in Jakob Poeltl, they finished second in the Pac-12 and they were runner ups in the Pac-12 tournament, losing to Oregon.
We chatted with Shane Roberts from Block U to get a closer look at the Ute program this year.
1. The Pac-12 has been one of the toughest conferences this year, how well has that rugged play prepare them for tournament play?
Without a doubt. The non conference portion helped a ton too, with the likes of Duke, San Diego State, Miami and Texas Tech on the schedule, Utah's been battle tested.
2. Fresno State has a great scorer in guard/forward Marvelle Harris who is capable of having a big scoring night, so what is the Utah plans to stop Harris from scoring over 25 points?
Utah's going to see if Fresno can beat them with someone else. You'll see Utah throw a lot of different guys at Harris, probably some different defenses too. Utah's played some more zone the last couple of weeks to help protect Jakob Poeltl, so you'll see a bit of everything.
3. Utah has future lottery pick in center Jakob Poeltl does anyone on Fresno State have a chance in matching up and possibly even slowing him down?
To be frank, not really. The only person that's stopped Jakob this season is Jakob, or even his teammates. Sometimes they forget about the big guy. He's just so skilled in so many aspects, he's a tough cover. He's also a very nice passer, so if he's doubled he'll find the open man.
4. After, Poeltl who does Utah have on offense that is a consistent player who can lead this team to victory?
There's just not one player for Utah. Utah always has a secondary scorer, but it's different guys on different nights. Senior guard Brandon Taylor has been playing great the past couple of weeks. If it's not him, then it's junior guard Lorenzo Bonam, who just lives in the paint. It could also be senior forward Jordan Loveridge, who had been consistent most of the season from beyond the arc. There's a lot of names that could show up during any given game.
5. Utah played San Diego State earlier in the year in a close win. Fresno State is similar to the Aztecs -- not quite defensively -- can you provide a quick synopsis of the one common opponent these two teams have?
I think they have two opponents in common, SDSU and Oregon. We all know what Oregon did to the Utes. As for SDSU, it was a competitive game for sure, but Utah kept the Aztecs at bay most of the game. SDSU made a run in the closing moments to make it closer than it should have been. Back then Utah was just trying to find themselves post Delon Wright. Taylor was struggling and Bonam was still so new. This is a much different team now.
6. Who wins and why?
I think Utah wins, because of Poeltl. He's so skilled that he commands so much attention, and that opens up so much for Utah's shooters. Fresno may make it interesting for a while, but Utah is more talented and more battle tested.