The Madness Begins Thursday for BYU Men’s Hoops

March 13, 2008    By: Geoff J @ 12:08 am   Category: Sports

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!


  1. The first tournament victory is in the books. BYU 89, CSU 62.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 13, 2008 @ 3:26 pm

  2. For those of us who don’t follow BBall could you explain the relationship of the tournament to the regular season and to the conference winner?

    Comment by Clark — March 13, 2008 @ 4:33 pm

  3. If you finish #1 in your conference at the end of the regular season that team get an automatic spot in the NCAA tournement. Also, if your conference has a conference championship series at the end of the regular season, the winner of that conference championship series also gets an automatic spot in the NCAA tournement even if they finished #6 in the conference during the regular season. Most, if not all major conferences have an end of the regular season conference championship series because commonly another team other than the regular season champion wins and that means another garanteed spot for another team in that conference to the NCAA Campionship Series.

    Comment by BRoz — March 13, 2008 @ 5:07 pm

  4. Sure Clark. The biggest conference prize is the regular season championship — like in football. But unlike football, basketball also has a post season tournament. While winning the post season tourney has some limited bragging rights involved, the real benefit is that the tournament champion gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. That is a major prize for any team that is on the bubble or even worse, not even in the running for a at-large bid to the big dance. The two teams in conference that are basically locks for at-large bids this season are UNLV and BYU. New Mexico is on the bubble and a couple of MWC tournament wins could get them in. But for the other six teams in conference the only way to extend the season is to win the conference tourney and get the automatic bid so there is some drama involved because of that.

    As an aside — The problem with the MWC tournament right now is that UNLV has a huge advantage because these are home games for them. But where else could they hold the tourney and attract visitors? Moving it to Denver proved to be a disaster a few years back.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 13, 2008 @ 5:09 pm

  5. BRoz,

    While winning the regular season championship is as good as a ticket to the big dance, only the tournament champ is an actual automatic bid. The conference champ has to wait until selection Sunday to get an at-large bid if they fail to win the conference tournament.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 13, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

  6. I’m wondering how much minor tourney upsets of UConn and Louisville are going to hurt their seedings. I’m hoping for losses from all teams ranked 10-25 this weekend – I think we’ve got a long shot at getting a 5 seed.

    Comment by Eric Russell — March 13, 2008 @ 6:25 pm

  7. A 5 seed… how would it be…

    Anyone know the highest seed the Cougs have ever gotten?

    Comment by Geoff J — March 13, 2008 @ 7:45 pm

  8. Good question. A quick breeze through the wiki shows a 3 seed in 79-80 and a 4 seed in 87-88. I never would have guessed.

    Comment by Eric Russell — March 13, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

  9. My family religiously fills out the brackets in March. My brothers and I don’t write each other cards on birthdays; we don’t send presents for Christmas; we rarely even call on holidays. But everyone fills in a bracket in March. I imagine I could sit in a hospital for a week before receiving a phone call from my brothers, but I would get a phone call from each one of them if my bracket was late.

    That being said, I’m about to really embarass myself this year. I have no clue about college basketball this year. It has gotten away from me. Anybody out there got a good upset pick? Who’s going to win this year? I’m desperate. And don’t tell me BYU is going to win. I don’t care where they’re seeded, they won’t make it past the second round.

    Comment by Josh Smith — March 14, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

  10. BYU takes down SDSU in the second round. On to the finals tomorrow.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 14, 2008 @ 9:21 pm

  11. The bad news: UNLV takes care of BYU at home (again) to win the MWC tournament (again).

    The good news: The girls volleyball team I coach (grades 3-5 with my 3rd grader and 5th grader on the team) won our end-of-season tournament this morning in a Cinderella story march through the bracket. Woohoo! Go Crocodiles!

    Comment by Geoff J — March 15, 2008 @ 6:54 pm

  12. Anyway, I watched the BYU-UNLV game yesterday and it highlighted why I have not been really sold on this team. They seem to be talented and steady enough to win a lot of games… but they appear to lack the ferocious competitive spirit that truly great teams possess. Plaisted looked like a deer in the headlights half the time yesterday to me. The alleged on-court leader of the team, Cummard, didn’t look at all anxious to put the team on his shoulders when the going got rough. In fact, he didn’t look like much of a leader at all. That has been the complaint I have had with this team all season — they seem largely leaderless. UNLV had Wink Adams taking over the game himself in the last few minutes. That guy was money. Where is our money man? BYU seems to be all Robins with no Batman; all Watsons with no Holmes; all Esqueletos with no Nacho Libre. When the only guy who looks like he is ready to be “The Man” is a true freshman (Fredette) it does not bode well.

    I hope they prove me wrong and make it past the first round this year… Seeding will be announced this evening.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 16, 2008 @ 10:35 am

  13. Seeds are in: BYU gets a #8 seed in the West. Texas A&M is the opponent.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 16, 2008 @ 4:25 pm

  14. all Esqueletos with no Nacho Libre

    Ha! That is a predicament.

    Comment by Jacob J — March 16, 2008 @ 4:58 pm

  15. I was hoping for the sweet sixteen this year, but there’s no way they can get past UCLA on their home turf. 8-9 seed’s a dead end.

    Comment by Eric Russell — March 16, 2008 @ 5:36 pm

  16. I just hope they win a game. Its been a long time.

    Comment by Adam Greenwood — March 19, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

  17. Well BYU men’s hoops has once again rewarded my skepticism. Oh well. As we always say: “Maybe next year”.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 20, 2008 @ 7:41 pm

  18. I guess we can all go root for the Lacrosse team now? better odds there…

    Comment by Matt W. — March 20, 2008 @ 7:55 pm