California vs. Utah preview: Bears looking to solidify NCAA Tourney standing

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

California faces Utah in the Pac-12 quarterfinals, and a win or two in the tournament can lock them into the big dance next week.

The California Golden Bears take on the Utah Utes in the Pac-12 quarterfinal round on Thursday, looking to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Cal (20-10, 12-6 Pac-12) has a solid at-large resume, ranking 49th in RPI, 29th in strength of schedule ranking, and 54th in KenPom rating. That's in addition to wins over Arizona and UCLA. SB Nation's bracket guru Chris Dobbertean projects the Bears to get a No. 10 seed in the big dance, avoiding the dreaded First Four in Dayton.

Cal is led by Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, who recorded 18.6 points per game and a 35.3 percent three-point percentage this season. Not far behind is Justin Cobbs (15.1 ppg, 4.8 apg).

The Bears are sitting on pretty solid ground, but they do need to avoid a stumbling block here. Utah (14-17, 5-13 Pac-12) isn't going to any postseason tournaments, but they did pull off upsets over Oregon, Boise State, Arizona State and Colorado. The Utes are led by Jarred DuBois (12.6 ppg), Jordan Loveridge (12.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Jason Washburn (11.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.5 bpg).

The Bears should take care of business here, but as is usually the case in Championship Week, anything could happen.

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