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NCAA Tournament 2015: Utes Are A Challenging Sweet Sixteen Opponent For Duke

Utah is a very talented, well-coached team, and those sorts of teams can absolutely advance. Utah is not here by accident.

Mar 26, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski during practice the day before the semifinals of the south regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at NRG Stadium.
Mar 26, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski during practice the day before the semifinals of the south regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at NRG Stadium.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The first thing you need to understand is that this is a game that Utah can win. Don't make the mistake of thinking that it's a big upset if they do either. Utah is a quality opponent - anyone who has made it this far is, of course, but Utah is exceptionally well balanced and plays a very intelligent game.

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A lot of the credit goes to the Western Coach K, Larry Krsytkowiak, who had six wins his first season and now has the Utes as a legitimate Final Four threat.

Utah's best player is Delon Wright, a 6-5 senior. He's not going to come at you like Jerian Grant, but more like...hmmm...a more athletic Jon Scheyer.

We used to watch Scheyer in amazement because he almost never made a mistake and at the end of a game, he was lethal.

And like Scheyer, Wright doesn't need to score to hurt you. He'll find other guys to do it and he'll get them the ball where they like it, too. He's a future pro, and not just drawing a paycheck either. He'll stick.

Brandon Taylor is the point guard, smallish at 5-10, but big deal. Muggsy Bogues played at 5-3. It's what you can do that counts. He and Tyus Jones should have an interesting matchup.

Jordan Loveridge is about the same height as Justise Winslow, though possibly not quite as athletic. As we've said before though, athleticism without intelligence is going to eventually lose to smarter players. He was out earlier this year after having some crud removed from his knee. It wasn't a major operation (unless it was your knee of course).

Dakari Tucker (6-5) filled in. He also had an early injury. Both should be completely recovered.

Chris Reyes (6-7) will start at the other forward. A sophomore, Reyes doesn't have big stats but is a glue guy.

At center, the Utes start Euro import Jacob Poetl. At 7-0 and 235, he is slimmer than Duke's Jahlil Okafor, but the NBA is watching. He has real potential.

Utah has about a 10-man rotation, so it's a deeper team than Duke can claim to be.

Dallin Bachynski, Isaiah Wright and Kyle Kuzma are the primary bench players.

Bachynski is a Canadian from Calgary. He is just about Okafor's size at 6-11 and 265.

Kuzma is a 6-9 kid out of Flynt, Michigan. He's got significant potential though he hasn't come close to it yet. He's a redshirt freshman.

Last time Utah was in this position, Rick Majerus was coaching and getting praise for a Utah team that had limited athleticism and which played better than anyone would have expected.

This time? Utah is big, talented, far more athletic and still well coached.

Coach K - theirs, not ours - said that he plans to changes things up a lot to try to keep Duke off balance.

You have to consider your options with Okafor. He's proven too many times that he can score in traffic and when he's doubled, he knows how to find an open teammate. Actually, it's an interesting variation on the 2010 theme with Brian Zoubek.

Zoubek had almost no offensive game and instead looked to pass rebounds out for a three attempt.

Okafor is the first option, but he's very good at finding the next one if needed.

Often times that is Justise Winslow or Quinn Cook. Either can take the three or drive. Tyus Jones is better as a distributor, but in big games his competitive nature shines through: big shot after big shot for the freshman.

Still, these teams should be reasonably well matched. Duke would probably prefer to get out on the break when possible; Utah is going to try to stop it.

In turn, Duke has to control Wright, who can take over a game without too much trouble, and his teammates buy in.

This is a really quality team and Duke will have to play well to win. That's no smoke blowing. That's just the way it is. You let this team get on a roll and you'll be watching on Sunday.