Pac-12 Tournament: Utah vs. Stanford quarterfinal preview
LAS VEGAS – With a buzzer-beating win to close out the day on Wednesday, Stanford punched its ticket to the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals with a dramatic flourish.
The question is can the Cardinal keep it rolling against a stout Utah team that spent most of the year in the AP top 25 poll.
(3) Utah vs. (6) Stanford
Time: 8:30 p.m. PT
Broadcast: ESPN, WatchESPN
Outlook: Stanford can give its slim NCAA tournament hopes another boost with a win Thursday over 17th-ranked Utah a night after senior guard Chasson Randle hit a three-pointer with less than three seconds remaining to send the Cardinal to a 71-69 win over 11th-seeded Washington.
The win improved Stanford to 19-12 (9-9 Pac-12), so it likely needs to make a run to the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals to gain serious consideration for the Big Dance. Otherwise, an NIT bid is likely. The Cardinal played the Utes just once during the regular season, a 75-59 loss Feb. 12 at the Huntsman Center.
Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said his team is prepping for another physical contest against the Runnin' Utes.
"We just need to get our rest, get ready to come out and compete," Dawkins said. "We can't let fatigue be an excuse. We can't have any excuses. What we need to do is focus on Utah. They're a very good team, terrific coach, they're having a fantastic season."
However, the Cardinal does have the benefit of being a veteran-laden team that made it all the way to the Sweet 16 last season. That included a win over national juggernaut Kansas. Hence, coach Johnny Dawkins' squad is no stranger to big games. It knows it needs to keep winning to keep its NCAA Tournament dream alive. And Utah isn't necessarily playing its best, after nearly getting upset by Washington State before losing to the laboring Huskies in Seattle on their final road trip of the conference season.
Plus, the Utes (23-7, 13-5 Pac-12) have all but locked up a bid to the Big Dance.