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How to watch Utah play Colorado in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals

Utah Utes guard Cole Bajema shoots the ball with Arizona State Sun Devils forward Alonzo Gaffney trying to block the shot during the game between Utah and the Arizona State in the first round of the 2024 Pac-12 tournament at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.
Utah Utes guard Cole Bajema shoots the ball with Arizona State Sun Devils forward Alonzo Gaffney trying to block the shot during the game between Utah and the Arizona State in the first round of the 2024 Pac-12 tournament at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

No. 6 seed Utah (19-13) vs. No. 3 seed Colorado (22-9)

Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals

Tip: Thursday, 9:30 p.m. MDT.

Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.

TV: FS1.

Livestream: FoxSports.com Live.

Radio: 700 AM.

Series: Colorado leads, 34-27. The teams split their regular season matchups, with Utah winning by five in Salt Lake City and Colorado winning by 24 in Boulder.

The trends

For Utah: The Runnin’ Utes (19-13, 9-11 Pac-12) will have to win four games in four days if they want to win their first Pac-12 tournament, but Utah got that bid off to a great start with a dominant 90-57 victory over No. 11 seed Arizona State on Wednesday night.

For Colorado: The Buffaloes (22-9, 13-7 Pac-12) are the hottest team in the Pac-12 right now, going into the league tournament on a six-game winning streak. Colorado wrapped up the No. 3 seed in the tournament by going on the road last week and winning impressively at Oregon, then finished off the regular season with a solid win at Oregon State.

Quotable

“Colorado is really good. We were able to beat them at our place. They really, really handled us really from start to finish at their place. And Tad Boyle has been around this league for a long, long time and he’s a very good coach.” — Utah coach Craig Smith.

“This game, to me, shouldn’t mean more to anybody that we’re playing than it does to us. Whoever we play on Thursday night is gonna have a game under their belt, they’re gonna feel good about themselves. We have to keep our edge mentally and emotionally and understand it’s not gonna be easy, whoever we play. When our team is locked in and ready, I like our chances.” — Colorado coach Tad Boyle, per The Denver Gazette.

The stakes

For Utah: After Utah was seemingly in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament earlier this season, the Utes need to continue to win at the Pac-12 tournament to get themselves back into the NCAA bubble conversation. Colorado provides Utah with another Quad 1 opportunity — the Buffaloes are No. 26 in the NET rankings, while the Utes are No. 48, a four-spot climb after their win over Arizona State. Utah enters the game with a 4-8 record against Quad 1 opponents.

For Colorado: The Buffaloes have played themselves into a good position to potentially earn an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. What Colorado could use to strengthen that case is more Quad 1 chances, and as long as Utah stays in the top 50, the Buffaloes would have the opportunity to improve on their 2-5 record against Quad 1 opponents with a victory over Utah.

KJ Simpson
Colorado guard KJ Simpson (2) plays against Oregon during an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, March 7, 2024, in Eugene, Ore. | Amanda Loman

Players to watch

For Utah: The Utes’ guards, in particular, had an outstanding night against the Sun Devils, and that started with grad transfer Cole Bajema, who is no stranger to the Pac-12 tournament after playing three seasons at Washington. He scored a career-high 22 points and hit six 3-pointers, showing the kind of poise and experience you’d expect from a veteran. Can he, along with other guards like Deivon Smith (a nearly triple-double against ASU), Gabe Madsen (10 points) and Hunter Erickson (11) come up big again? Utah, as coach Craig Smith likes to say, played connected on Wednesday, and their hope is that cohesiveness rolls over again.

For Colorado: Where to start? This is a talented group with potentially three 2024 NBA draft picks on the roster. Junior guard KJ Simpson joined Utah’s Branden Carlson on the All-Pac-12 first team and is playing his best basketball, averaging 19.6 points while shooting 48.8% from the floor and adding 5.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. Second-team all-league forward Tristan da Silva is nearly matching those points and rebounding numbers, averaging 16.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, while true freshman Cody Williams, projected to be an NBA lottery pick, is shooting a team-high 59% from the floor while averaging 13.7 ppg.