BYU Basketball Early Departure from NCAA Tournament

BYU Basketball Early Departure from NCAA Tournament


The Cougars bowed out of the NCAA tournament in a blow-out loss to Marquette this past Thursday. Their performance in the game was reminiscent of many a tournament games past. With the exception of Jimmer’s Jr. and Sr. seasons – BYU has mostly been a one and done team for the past two decades. Prior to 2010, Jimmer’s Junior year, BYU had not won a tournament game in 7 attempts since their last win in 1993.

You might protest – what about the incredible Iona miracle on Tuesday night? – Yes I know the Cougies won that play-in game thriller. Iona was actually a pretty good ball club. However, BYU has no business ever being down 25 points to any team that before the tournament started -you had no idea where in the country the team is from. BYU should be better than that.

So the Iona game aside – BYU had a tall order – a 14 seed vs. a 3 seed. And that 3 seed, Marquette, was the 2nd place team from the 2nd best league in the country, the Big East. Certainly BYU was not picked to win the game. However, it would have been nice for them to actually show up when the ball tipped and not wait till they’d been punched in the mouth again.

You might recall the two first round losses BYU suffered at the hands of Texas A&M in 2008 and 2009. A&M was nothing special either of those years. What they were though was a lot tougher than BYU. BYU seems to have a history of getting beat right out of the gate in the tournament. That was certainly the case again this year against Iona and Marquette. I know they are often the lower seeded team and that makes it difficult. However, they need to come out swinging right from the opening bell. Rarely will BYU have enough talent to overcome double digit leads against any team good enough to be in the tournament.

To be fair – first round exits or not – Dave Rose has taken BYU to the tournament each of the last 6 years. I heard a stat on the radio that there are only 11 schools that have done that during same period of time. Pretty impressive.

With that kind of consistency, it would be nice to see a little more fire from the team when they take the floor in first round games. It’s puzzling to see the team act like they don’t belong there. They do and they need to show it in the first 10 minutes, before it’s too late.

To avoid this troubling trend, the Cougs either need to win 30 games every year and land as a 5 seed or higher, or start showing up in the first round when they will more likely be seeded 7-12. It’s time to toughen up and at least compete in these first round games, Jimmer or not.



Matt Nielson has been writing about the college sports landscape in Utah and the Intermountain West since 2010. When he’s not pretending to be a professional blogger, he works full time as a residential real estate agent and house flipper. Matt graduated from Brigham Young University in 2000. He and his family reside in Salt Lake City, UT.


  1. Seth Jardine
    Seth Jardine03-24-2012

    Matt, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I thought getting the “jitters” out against Iona would help us against Marquette, but it was like we were starting over again in our yearly attempt to convince ourselves we are worthy of being there. Lacking toughness is probably the best way to put it….like you said. Good article.

    • Matt Nielson
      Matt Nielson03-27-2012

      You do get the feeling they often roll into the tournament trying to convince themselves they belong. That’s what makes it so aggravating to watch because they really do belong! They’ve been six years in row. It would be nice to see them get up on someone by 10-12 points in the early going in one of these 7-10 type match-ups and just put them away.

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