GAME: No. 9 Utah (24-7) vs. No. 8 OREGON (23-9)
REGIONAL: Midwest, first round.
TIME: Friday, 3 p.m. EST.
SITE: The Gaylord Entertainment Center; Nashville, Tenn.
Winning the Pac-10 tournament could give OREGON the momentum it needs to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament.
The Ducks will look to their talented backcourt to lead them as they open with a first-round matchup against Utah.
Despite losing five of their final nine regular season games, OREGON junior guard Luke Jackson thinks the Ducks are poised for another postseason run.
"Last year, we went on a very good run at the end of the season and it's starting to feel like that again," Jackson said.
OREGON will be making its second straight appearance - third in four years - in the NCAA tournament, where the Ducks lost to Kansas in the regional finals last year.
OREGON started this season strong, winning its first six games to earn a No. 5 ranking. However, the Ducks faded from the Top 25 after losses to top-10 opponents Cincinnati and Arizona, and Pac-10 rivals California and Stanford.
The Ducks earned the conference's automatic bid after beating Arizona State, UCLA and USC to win the league tournament.
"Guys are starting to feel like we did last year," point guard Luke Ridnour said. "We're starting to play our best basketball at the end of the season. We feel we can go on a run in the NCAA tournament."
Ridnour, the Pac-10 player of the year, was selected MVP of the three-day conference tournament at Staples Center. Ridnour averages 19.9 points and 6.9 assists per game while shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range to pace the Ducks.
Jackson and Ridnour give OREGON one of the top backcourt tandems in the country. The 6-foot-7 Jackson was named to the Pac-10 all-conference team after averaging 16.1 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds.
Utah split its last six regular season games and was bounced out of the Mountain West Conference tournament in the semifinals. The Utes defeated Air Force 42-38 in the quarterfinals before falling to UNLV 64-41 in the semifinals.
Utah is in the NCAA tournament for the eighth time in nine seasons. The Utes missed the tournament in 2001, and were knocked out in the first round last season by Indiana.
Utah has five players averaging double-digit scoring, led by center Tim Frost's 13.1 points per game. The 6-foot-10 Frost is shooting a team-high 50.2 percent from the floor. Guard Nick Jacobson is the Utes second-leading scorer at 12.9 points per game.
Utah and OREGON meet for the 13th time, with the series tied at 6-6.
The Ducks have won both previous NCAA tournament games against the Utes, in 1945 and '60.
The winner of this game will face either Kentucky or IUPUI in the second round on Sunday.
The Wildcats beat the Utes in the 1998 national championship game.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Utah - At-large berth, Mountain West Conference. OREGON - Automatic bid, Pacific-10 tournament champion.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Utah - 32-26, 23 year. OREGON - 9-6, 7 years.