Utah’s “guaranteed” basketball improvement

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            Larry Krystkowiak has done some nice things for the Utah basketball program. He got the Utes into a surprising groove at the end of last season and nearly made it to the Pac-12 championship game. Utah won four of its final five games to finish 15-18.

            Now comes the really good news for the Utes: The success will continue…for a while. They’ve made sure of that. Their non-conference schedule for 2013-14, which was released on Tuesday, appears custom made to get the Utes off to a roaring start.

            Evergreen State. UC Davis. Grand Canyon. Savannah State. Idaho State. Lamar. Texas State.

            And the big warm up to the Pac-12, St. Katherine.

            That alone should get Utah a bunch of wins.

            Yes, I would say the Utes will get off to a good start. Whether it translates to the Pac-12 is another issue.

            Good starts are important. But the problem is who wants to see it? With college basketball attendance poor at many schools – Utah included — will fans come out in November and December to see the Utes play Evergreen State and St. Katherine?        

            Some fans complain about Utah playing a game a year in football against smaller teams such as Weber State or Northern Colorado. Looks like the basketball team is playing a lot of those games.

             Utah also plays 10 of its 11 non-conference basketball games at home.

            Krystkowiak isn’t the only coach to schedule “guaranteed” wins. Rick Majerus used to book games against Cardinal Stritch, Stony Brook, Whitworth, Augusta State and St. Francis. Truthfuly, getting power teams to play non-conference road games is tough. But somewhere there should be middle ground, where the Utes can play some major early season opposition, even if some of it is on the road.

            Utah’s schedule also includes games against traditionally decent programs like Boise State and Fresno State, plus the always-intriguing game against BYU. But other than that, I’m not terribly interested in seeing any games until January 2 when Oregon comes to town.           

            There is such thing as favorable scheduling. Then there’s cupcake scheduling that makes it hard to watch. I’m going to put the 2013-14 Utah nonconference schedule in the latter.


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