The new men’s college basketball rankings came out this morning and the 20-1 BYU Cougars are ranked #10 in the coaches poll. This is the highest ranking for the Cougs since the ’87-88 team. I think this is the best BYU hoops team since the Danny Ainge days.
BYU is led by Junior point guard Jimmer Fredette out of New York state. I have long thought Jimmer was the best player on the team — ever since he looked like the best BYU player on the floor in the NCAA tournament game his freshman year. This year no one can deny Jimmer is one of the best guards in the country. He really turned heads nationally at the end of December when he dropped 49 points on Arizona in Tucson, setting a new BYU scoring record and a new McKale Center scoring record in the process. The only problem was that he came down with a case of mono right after that game and it has taken the better part of a month for him to bounce back.
But that is partially why the team’s 20-1 record is so impressive this year. BYU has talent all over the team and thus BYU managed to keep winning in the absence of their best player. BYU has 10 guys who contribute in significant ways and I am convinced that the 5 players coming off the bench would be in the upper echelon of the Mountain West Conference all by themselves.
BYU fans have become a bit gun shy when it comes to really getting into BYU basketball in the last several years. That is understandable when you consider that the last time BYU won an NCAA tournament game I was a student there — and that was a long time ago folks (1993). But this year is looking different. This team looks better. This seems like the year BYU gets a 3-6 seed in the tourney and makes it at least to the second round. But I am taking it further than that. I am sticking with my pre-season prediction of a Sweet 16 run for the Cougs. I was laughed to scorn when I predicted it then… (ok not really)… but my prediction looks less crazy now than it did back then. There is still plenty of room on the bandwagon folks. Go Cougs!
PS — We took the family to Disneyland last week and I was amazed at how many people besides me were donning BYU gear. I felt like I was saying “Go Cougs” every ten feet or so. (I think BYU need a cool hand signal like the “Hook ‘em Horns” Texas has)