NCAA Basketball Picks: Stanford vs. Utah Picks

David Lawrence

Thursday, March 12, 2015 3:47 PM GMT

The Stanford Cardinal were probably on the bubble heading into the start of March but losses in 3 of their last 4 have hurt their chances even more. They’re underdogs in NCAA Basketball odds when they face the Utes on Thursday.

The Stanford Cardinal Can Win Because…
Utah hasn’t quite been themselves in the last couple of weeks. The Utes started the season 21-4 and 11-2 in the conference. However, they lost at Oregon on February 22nd, then lost at home to Arizona on February 28th but then lost at Washington in their regular season finale. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak was beside himself with the team’s latest performance but there’s not a whole lot he might be able to do. They’re again in a position where they don’t need to win as there’s no urgency for the team that’s ranked 17th in the country. They’re already going to the tournament. On the flip side, Stanford is a definite ‘maybe’ and will need to kick their butts into gear. If they don’t win this game, they have no shot to get to the Tournament. Current NCAA Basketball odds list the Cardinals as 6.5pt. underdogs

Stanford has fared well against good defensive teams this season, winning eight of 12 matchups against teams that allow 64 points or less. Meanwhile, Utah is just 7-5 in their last 12 against winning teams. That indicates they’ve been beating up on weaklings. At any rate, Stanford has a shot here.

Check out our 'Over/Under' pick for Stanford vs. Utah 

The Utah Utes Can Win Because…
They’re a significantly better team. Sure, they’ve slumped a bit recently but that’s because they’ve been half asleep in their contests. If they’re focused, they’re going to run the Cardinal off the court. Chances are, they are going to be focused.

After the Utes lost their regular season finale, Coach Krystkowiak tore a strip off his team. He was about as angry at them as he’s ever been. It’s a good bet to assume that they’ll respond.

This season, they’ve been one of the better defensive teams in the country. They allow just 56.6 points per game, which is nearly 10 points better than Stanford. Really, the only difference between this team’s 21-4 start and their last five games is focus and energy. That’s going to be back tonight.

The Utes thumped the Cardinal 75-59 on February 12 and we can expect a similar result in this spot. Take the Utes with your NCAA Basketball picks.

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Outlook
Both Utah and Stanford have been struggling lately but for different reasons. Stanford is simply an average team that’s several bricks short of a load. Utah is capable of a deep NCAA Tournament run but they’ve just been sleep-walking through the very end of the season. They are still 13-5 against the conference and 15-7 against teams with a winning record.

With Coach K shredding his team after their latest loss, expect them to be very focused in this spot. Lay the points in this one.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Utah -6.5 at Pinnacle