Friday, February 1, 2013

What BYU needs to do to make it to the Big Dance

Matty takes a shot against San Diego, 1-19-12
Last night's BYU basketball game against Pepperdine was WAY too close for comfort. The game ended up resting in the hands of Matt Carlino (which, as much as I love Matty, is never a safe bet), yet he somehow managed to throw up a wild, falling flat on his back, several feet beyond the arc three-pointer that luckily found nothing but the bottom of the net, just as the shot clock expired with 12 seconds left in the game. It gave the Cougs a 4-point lead which they had fought and clawed and scratched their way to, despite being behind almost the entire game. Anson Winder almost threw the happy moment away by fouling Jordan Baker on a 3-pointer at the other end of the court. Baker nailed 2 freethrows and missed the third on purpose, hoping to get a tip-in to send the game to overtime. Luckily the tip missed, too, and BYU scraped by with a win, even though it was far from pretty.

It pains me to say that this kind of inconsistent play is what might be the BYU basketball team's ultimate undoing. Yes, they almost beat St. Mary's, but they got creamed by Gonzaga, and barely scraped by one of the worst teams in the league, which doesn't look so good on their rap sheet. The question at the forefront of every Cougar fan's mind is: Will they make it to the NCAA tourney for the 7th straight year? I think they're definitely on the fence. So what do they need to do to make it?

One of these scenarios has to play out for BYU to make it to the Big Dance:

Ty drives to the hoop vs. Pepperdine
in Provo, 1-10-12
1. They win out the rest of the season, with the possible exception of one loss to either St. Mary's on the road or Gonzaga at home-- but they can't lose both. I think if they can at least beat one of them, though, they've got a good shot at making it into the tournament. Those are the last 2 games of the regular season, so they've got plenty of time to prepare-- I just hope they don't psych themselves out like they often tend to do.

2. They win the conference tournament. BYU will most likely be a 3-seed, making that task almost impossible-- it's basically the absolute worst seed to get because they'd have to beat both St. Mary's and Gonzaga to win. In order to only have to play one of them, they'd have to get them to play each other in the semi-finals, meaning BYU would have to be a 1-seed, which is basically impossible at this point. 

3. They get lucky. If they lose to both St. Mary's and Gonzaga AND lose the conference tournament, but someone on the selection committee sees the potential of Tyler Haws and Brandon Davies (like I believe they should), or if they're itching for another Iona-like showdown, they may have a shot. But obviously there are no guarantees.

For one of those situations to play out, Matt Carlino has to stop being frantic and get some consistency back into him, Tyler Haws has to be ON every game, and Brandon Davis has to stay out of foul trouble. I'm not sure if all three of those things has ever happened at the same time this year, but they need to-- especially in the games against St. Mary's and Gonzaga.

All-in-all, I think the most likely situation is they will end up in an almost identical position as last year-- they will be one of the first four in or one of the first four out of the bracket. Maybe I'm a horrible fan for saying this, but I kind of hope if that's the case, they go to the NIT instead of NCAA. I'd rather have them play a few more games (some of which could even be on their home court) and make it a little further in a tournament than get creamed in round one. Then again, I said that last year, too, and if I had been right, we never would have had the chance to witness the greatest comeback in NCAA history against Iona. I would feel really badly for the seniors (Brock Zylstra, Craig Cusick, and Brandon Davies) if they don't make the NCAA, but I think they could finish off their careers on a higher note if they go to the NIT. I guess only time will tell. I can't believe there's only a little over a month left in the season! March Madness will be here before we know it. Hope they finish strong, no matter which way the cookie (or their season) crumbles.

1 comment:

  1. BYU is going to need to win and lots of luck to be in the First Four, but since Gonzaga and St. Mary's have BYU's number, I think the NIT is the most likely scenario at this point.