It Could be a Magical Year for BYU Hoops

It Could be a Magical Year for BYU Hoops

So the Cougars finally beat UNLV in Las Vegas last night after losing their last 8 in the desert. Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery both went crazy raining 3 point bombs and the Cougars ended up 89-77 winners in a big-time Mountain West Conference showdown.

Check out the link from Ron Kantowski of the Las Vegas Review Journal to get the Vegas perspective on just how much the game meant.
“Willis might want to amend that to “definitely” the best player in the conference”

Most BYU fans figured the UNLV road contest was one of the Mountain West Conference games the Cougars would likely lose. Not only had they lost 8 in a row in Las Vegas, many of them had not even been competitive.

After a stellar 14-1 non-conference start, many figured BYU would post a record similar to last year’s 29-5 mark with potential losses being: at San Diego State, at New Mexico, at UNLV, and then a potential home loss or MWC tournament loss to one of those same teams. Coupled with the non conference loss to UCLA in Anaheim, CA, this would have put the Cougars at 30-5 overall for the 2010-2011 campaign.  A record most likely strong enough for a #5 or #6 seed in the NCAA tournament. The same record landed them a #7 seed a year ago. However, the Mountain West Conference is quite strong this year and a 30-5 record could get them a little higher tournament seed this go round.

With the win last night though, it’s time for Cougar fans to set their sights even higher. The Cougars will most likely still drop road games to SDSU and New Mexico but that could be it. Not only did they win a game they were supposed to lose last night, they showed they are absolutely for real and are now brimming with confidence.

It’s not unrealistic to think they might now run through the conference with a 14-2 record and finish up 32-3 or something incredible. Of course they would still need to make it through the MWC tournament back in Vegas and face being upset there. However, I think they would have already punched a #3 or #4 seeded ticket into the Big Dance by then.

Whether it’s fair or not, higher seeds are often given to programs who are consistent year in and year out. Though BYU did not win a tournament game for 17 years, they finally did last year and played a competitive 2nd round game against an eventual Elite 8 team in Kansas State. As well, Jimmer Fredette might be the best player in the country this year. Everyone in American now knows Jimmer and BYU. This should buy the Cougars an extra spot or two in the seeding process. That’s why I think they can go as high as #3 or #4. And of course, a #3 or #4 seed sets the Cougars up nicely for a Sweet 16 run. A likely win in the first round over a #13 or #14 seed sets up a very winnable 2nd round game against a potential #5 or #6 seed.

As well, with the way Jimmer is going and the team just rolling, who knows, BYU could catch fire and end up a crazy #2 seed or something like that. There will obviously be nights when the 3 point bombs don’t drop and they will lose a few more games. As well, their interior play is definitely lacking. However, the way they are going now, some of their deficiencies will be overcome by the sheer determination of Fredette. This year really has the makings of something special.

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.


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