Does BYU have what it takes to run the daunting NIT Bracket in hopes of hoisting the 2013 NIT Championship Trophy while chanting “We’re number 69!!”?
Does it matter (or does it change anything) if they do?
Carl: Umm, no. Washington will be a challenge in and of itself. Get past that, you’d be on the road at Tennessee. Somehow get past that, Southern Miss or Florida State most likely loom. And we all know how the Cougars fared against the Seminoles. Put all the effort on Washington tonight and let the rest be gravy for a mediocre season.
A great flash mob at halftime tonight would be a nice going away gesture. But unless they beat the aforementioned teams, nothing changes for my thoughts on the season.
Matt: I like BYU tonight. I think the team will rise to the chance to play another game at home. And the best part is, despite BYU’s lower seeding, Tennessee comes to Provo for round 2 due to a scheduling conflict. I like BYU tonight and again in round 2. However, BYU’s road record is abysmal against good teams and playing in MSG against Southern Miss will prove to be too daunting for the Cougars and I’m predicting a 3rd round exit for the Cougars.
Mike: It would be very BYU’13-like for Rose and company to play their best two weeks of the season in the NIT. They are surrounded by underachieving, misfit teams including NIT veteran Washington who won last year’s PAC 12 regular season yet went NIT-ing in 2012. The good news is BYU should look good in the NIT. The bad news is nobody cares.
Scott: I think it matters. It’s still a postseason tournament, and there are nearly 250 D1 teams that weren’t invited to a NIT or NCAA Tournament. That still puts BYU in a good spot. It’s not ideal, but BYU is still recognized as a good program even in a down year. I love watching BYU games, so I’m excited the season continues. A handful of these players are going to be playing together for the next two seasons, and something clearly wasn’t working right this season. This gives them more time to practice together and more time with the coaching staff. It can set the tone for the offseason workouts and for next season, and it can get the fans excited. A long run in the NIT matters.
As selection Sunday revealed, BYU left a conference that sent five teams to the Big Dance for a conference that sent 1.5 teams to the NCAA Tourney. Do you have any second thoughts on leaving Craig Thompson’s hair and the Mountain West?
Carl: Nope. If I look back I’ll either turn to dust or one of Craig Thompson’s hair pieces! BYU knew exactly what they were leaving when they left and BYU did it for the exposure, mainly for football, not the basketball. It has been nice to see the MWC rise up and I do wish them well during March Madness.
Matt: I have a hard time qualifying Saint Mary’s as “.5.” BYU was a play-in game last year. And I really don’t get how an 11-seed gets a play-in game. Shouldn’t it stand to reason that if you are going to have “play-in games” that the lowest seeds should be getting that game. But I digress. The grass is always greener than where you are standing. I miss the old rivalries and history with the MWC teams, but lets face it, BYU wasn’t going to make the NCAA this year in that conference either, so it seems futile to dwell on it. The drawback of the WCC is supremely outweighed by the benefits of independence for football so no, I don’t have any reservations. I for one am glad we are not under the tyrannical thumb of the hair.
Mike: I read the MWC as a conference is ranked the highest it ever has been in this year’s RPI. Inconceivable, but true. I refuse to believe that Craig Thompson knows what he’s doing. After seeing him try to disguise UNLV’s home court as a neutral MWC Tournament site, I’m even more convinced Thompson is still asleep at the wheel. That said, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed watching BYU play the good ole MWC teams. I sound like any old guy at the Marriott Center listening to KSL on his headphones while drinking a smuggled Shasta but it’s true. Who knew how good Laramie looked compared to the high school courts of the WCC?
Scott: First of all, we can’t really say the WCC sent 1.5 teams if we’re going to say the MWC is sending 5 teams. Both St. Mary’s and Boise State are in a play-in game. Second, we knew the move to independence in football was not going to be a better move for basketball. We knew the MWC was and is a better basketball conference than the WCC. I think most fans would have LOVED to go independent in football and stay in the MWC for everything else, but that was not an option. Do I wish BYU was still in the MWC’s basketball conference? Absolutely (not that it would have made a difference for us on Selection Sunday this year). Do I wish BYU wouldn’t have gone independent in football, which was reason it left the MWC’s basketball conference? Heeeeeeck no. Do I miss Craig Thompson’s hair? Maybe a little.
Carl: Louisville for the NCAA and Tennessee for the NIT.
Matt: I’d love to pick the Zags but the WCC officials have them conditioned to be soft and they won’t be able to handle the toughness of teams from the Big 10 three games in a row. (I have them in the championship game after beating Ohio State and Michigan State.) I like Indiana to win the NCAA as Gonzaga will just finally not be able to pound against their third straight Big Ten team.
As for the NIT, I’ve got Maryland. To be fair, I have no idea how this all shakes out, but in my first-run bracket scenario, I pick the Terps to win.
Mike: Gonzaga for the NCAA. Virginia for the NIT.
Scott: I grew up in Indiana and currently live in Indiana, so I am going to go with my heart (and some of my brain) and pick Indiana to win it all. Go Hoosiers!
As far as the NIT goes, I’ve never really been all that interested in it, but since I am being forced to make a pick … I’m slapping on the blue goggles and calling it for the Cougars! BYU! BYU! BYU! But if not them, how about Maryland?
Carl: Tough question because 200/1 seems about right for both teams. Those Vegas oddsmakers make it so difficult. I’ll go with BYU by a Craig Thompson hair piece! The schedule is equally as tough as Utah’s, but I think the match-ups help give the advantage to BYU.
Matt: Let me just start by saying neither. But since I am answering the question that was asked, I’ll let my heart bleed out and pick the Cougars. Sure, Utah has dominated the Cougs recently, but that streak has to end soon. I know both schools are implementing new, high-tempo offenses, but comparing limited sample sizes of the odds-on-favorite to be the QB for each school, I like the game that Taysom Hill brings to BYU. He’s more polished and more mature. Travis Wilson looked lost last year and I know a lot of that was due to Brian Johnson’s inexperience, but I didn’t see anything in his mechanics that tell me he’ll be a great quarterback. He isn’t even an elite runner. I do love his deep ball though. It seems very effortless. But in terms of this question, Utah has an easier road as a “power 6” member of the PAC 12, but they still have to play at USC and I believe at Oregon this year as well as beat Standford at home. That’s a tall order. With built-in break weeks throughout the scheduled, BYU doesn’t have nearly as tough a week-to-week grind as Utah. BYU has no room for any missteps, but since we’re talking hypotheticals, BYU is more likely to be perfect than Utah us to win the PAC 12.
Mike: I give BYU the nod as I believe they have more winnable games and I think BYU has addressed their coaching deficiencies better than Utah. Utah has a legitimate PAC12 schedule for the first time hosting UCLA and Stanford while traveling to Oregon and USC. Add road games at BYU and Arizona and I don’t see Utah winning six games let alone a national championship. Notre Dame showed last year a team can play a schedule that looks tough without being tough and back door into the national championship. BYU must hope for the same thing if Zoob Nation wants to cash in on the 200/1 odds.
Scott: BYU has the better chance. Utah is playing Oregon and Stanford this year and has not proven itself in the Pac-12 yet. BYU’s schedule, while solid, lacks any team on Oregon or Stanford’s level. If BYU goes undefeated (which is probably not happening), I think their schedule is good enough to get into the game.