I haven’t posted on the BYU men’s basketball team this season. I have to admit that I have been afraid to get my hopes up. But at 25-6 and ranked in the top 25 in the country I guess it is safe to say that BYU is pretty good this year. The team started off hot, beating then #6 Louisville in an early season game and giving #1 North Carolina a real scare the next night. The Cougs found themselves in the top 20 and a loss to #10 Michigan State didn’t worry too many people. But then things started getting a little ugly. First there was the loss at unremarkable Boise State, then the big loss at having-a-down-year Wake Forest, and then there was a blow out loss at UNLV by something like 40 points. It wasn’t looking pretty. But somewhere along the line BYU found a team leader in rail-thin junior swing-man Lee Cummard. Cummard decided to step up and be The Man on this team his ascendancy catapulted the flagging team on to a major winning streak. Cummard finished the regular season as the co player of the year in the Mountain West Conference (along with JR Giddens from New Mexico) and the Cougs won their second straight outright MWC conference title.
The Small Dance for the MWC, the conference tournament, starts in earnest Thursday with BYU taking on last place CSU in Las Vegas. The Cougs have an invite to the Big Dance pretty well locked up already but winning the conference tourney could make a major impact on the seed BYU gets at the NCAA Tournament. Right now most experts are predicting BYU at anywhere from a 6 seed to a 9 seed. It seems to me that BYU normally is seeded below where the experts predict. (BYU has a no Sunday play requirement so that limits the spots available to the Cougs — the committee is forced to find them a Thursday-Saturday bracket which might be part of why the Cougs seem to get an unfairly low seed at times). A higher seed this year might help BYU get into the second round for the first time since… well, when I was a student there way back in the early 90s if I remember correctly. Anyway, the longer the Cougs win the better it will be for them at the Big Dance. Beating UNLV at home is very tough though so the boys in blue have their work cut out for them this week if they do make it to the finals.
So Rise and Shout y’all — it’s that most wonderful time of year and BYU doesn’t suck in 2008!