Will Jimmer Fredette Lead BYU to Their First Final Four?
I have been a BYU fan for longer than I can remember. Other than family and church, it is probably the only other constant I have had in my life.
I remember going to a friend’s house as a kid to watch Ty Detmer in the Holiday Bowl. I remember going to that same house for BYU basketball games, including one half court game winner that caused my brother to jump up and down breaking the light fixture in their living room.
I was only three, but I am sure I was watching BYU win the football National Championship in 1984.
I also remember winning only one game (take that Utah State) in the twilight of the Roger Reid era.
After all of these years of fandom I am now able to experience the Mendenhall-Rose era at BYU. This is definitely the most successful era of BYU sports in my lifetime, and I am happy to enjoy it.
We are now on the eve of what could be the start of the most successful basketball postseason of my life.
Upon hearing BYU got a seven seed I was slightly disappointed having hoped they would get a six, but the committee may have given BYU quite the gift in their seeding.
The Cougars will face Florida in the first round, and while they are only a few years removed from back-to-back national titles, let’s face it, they are not even close to the same team.
Florida barely squeaked into the tournament, and BYU should handle them quite easily. This will be the first blessing of the tourney breaking a streak of seven straight first round losses.
The second round will be much more difficult but still very winnable.
Kansas State is coming off a heartbreaking third loss to their rival Kansas in the Big 12 tournament. Sorry North Texas, but you are going to endure a beatdown as a result of that loss.
BYU should benefit from it though.
Enduring such an emotional loss, followed by a likely demolishing of a weak team could leave K-State trying to figure out where they are as a team. The Cougars are just the type of team to exploit that confusion.
Billy Donovan, the coach of BYU’s first victim, was just on ESPN saying that Jimmer Fredette is the most game-changing guard in the country.
That is saying a lot coming from a coach that faced John Wall who many think will be the number one pick in the draft this year.
Fredette can beat you from the perimeter, he can take it to the rim and put it in, or kill you from the charity stripe. He has single-handedly taken his team to huge wins this season including dropping 49 on traditional powerhouse Arizona.
If Fredette shows the Cats from Kansas St. what he showed the Cats from Arizona this game will end in BYU’s favor.
Upon beating K-State they will be able to go home and stay there for at least a whole week as the regional would be in Salt Lake City, UT. That’s a mere 40 minutes north of Provo.
Regardless of who their Sweet 16 opponent is they will be on an incredible high playing in front of an essentially hometown crowd. I wouldn’t call it a gimme, as there is no such thing in this tournament, but the odds are good.
That likely brings them to an Elite Eight matchup with Syracuse who has been near the top of the polls all year. It would be quite the test, but BYU should be up to it.
With their excellent perimeter game, they should pick apart Syracuse’s 2-3 defense. BYU is the highest scoring team in the tournament averaging 83 points a game, and that should push Syracuse to their limits.
I remember a tourney game a few years back when I was listening to BYU play Syracuse on the radio as I drove through Las Vegas. For those who need a reminder, Gerry McNamara single-handedly took BYU to school.
Some people may not be aware that Fredette is from New York, and how sweet would it be for him to take it to his hometown school. As was already mentioned he has the tools to do just that.
So that puts BYU into the Final Four for the first time in their history. It also removes them from the top of the list of schools with the most tourney appearances (25) without a Final Four run.
I won’t begin to speculate any farther because there are just too many variables, and I am already fantasizing just a little bit.
If you think I am crazy then you might be right, but I am joined in my insanity by Stewart Mandel of SI.com who also picked BYU to the Final Four in his predictions.
Bob Ryan, who writes for the Boston Globe , appeared on ESPN’s Around the Horn and made a similar prediction. Apparently BYU is starting to gain some real respect, and now it is time to back it up.
The beauty of this tournament is that you never know who will win, and pretty much anything can happen. That is why it is my favorite postseason in sports.
As a BYU fan most of what has happened in the past has not been good, but thanks to the selection committee we have some reason to hope this year.
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