BYU Basketball: Do They Have a Shot at the Final Four Without Brandon Daveis?
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last week, you've heard something about BYU forward Brandon Davies being suspended from the team because of a violation of the school's honor code.
ESPN's Andy Katz called the suspension of Davies a "significant blow" to the team and their Final Four hopes.
Wednesday night, BYU played against New Mexico and looked like the blow of losing Davies was going to be worse than everyone originally anticipated.
They lost in embarrassing fashion 82-64 against the Lobos.
At that point, it was really easy to say that the loss of Davies was enough to derail BYU and their train to the Final Four.
Then they played Saturday.
BYU came out and wiped the floor with Wyoming in a 102-78 beatdown of the Cowboys.
It was senior day and Jimmer Fredette left Provo in spectacular fashion by scoring 38 points on 12-of-24 shooting and 10-of-12 from the free throw line. Fredette gave the Cougar fans a great showing of some of the last "Jimmeries" that they will have of him as a Cougar.
Charles Abouo and Jackson Emery also had very big games for BYU. Abouo scored a career-high 25 and Emery splashed in 18 of his own.
Simply put, BYU looked like they didn't miss Davies at all.
Can BYU still reach the Final Four?
However, as any college basketball fan knows, Wyoming isn't exactly the toughest competition and an even worse gauge to determine how badly they are going to miss Davies heading into the postseason.
Will BYU be able to make a significant run in the NCAA Tournament?
It's easy to say BYU is finished, but a closer look at the team can give Cougar fans a little bit of hope.
While sitting at the Marriott Center on Saturday, it was easy to pick up on what BYU was going to do in order to make up for the loss of Davies.
On offense, BYU will have no problems making up for the loss of Davies. When Fredette is handling the ball, points will be put up on the board more often than not.
BYU will put Abouo and freshman Kyle Collinsworth on the wings and both of them are athletic enough to get to the basket, if need be.
Scoring will not be a problem, as evidenced by the 102 points they put on the board.
Defense on the other hand could prove to be a big challenge for BYU. Against Wyoming, the Cougars tried a variety of different looks until they could find one they seems comfortable with.
Even when comfortable, the Cowboys were able to get to the basket regularly.
When BYU is playing a bigger team like San Diego State, they have virtually no shot at stopping the likes of Kawhi Leonard without Davies' interior defense; they are just too small.
BYU players are quick enough that they are able to put a significant amount of pressure on opposing backcourts, making it difficult for teams to pass the ball into the post.
The biggest shot of hope that might help the BYU faithful does not come on the basketball court but rather, on the bench. At the end of the bench in a shirt and tie you will find Davies himself.
Many reports gave the impression that Davies had been kicked off the team, but in reality, he's only suspended. He is still part of the team.
Against Wyoming, Davies was there, talking to post players, supporting and cheering on his teammates that he let down. He even cut down the last string of the net after BYU clinched a regular season conference title.
Davies' support on the bench could be enough to help the reeling Cougars rally together and get the job done. Fredette said of Davies presence that he was "happy Brandon could be there. It was nice to still feel his spirit and energy."
For BYU, hopefully that energy will be enough to help them elevate their game enough to make a deep run.
So, it is possible to find some hope for BYU's postseason, but it is bleak.
In order for BYU to make it to Houston, it will take incredible play from their superstar, great play from the likes of Abouo and Emery and a lot of luck along the way.
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