The NCAA men's basketball tournament begins today, and as far as I can tell, BYU vs. Florida is the first game of the whole thing.
Considering BYU hasn't won a single tourney game since 1993, and since 2000 has lost all five of these games, I'm not sure whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, there's less time to worry about the pressure of past losses. On the other hand, everyone and their dog will be watching this game because it's the first game, and if BYU goes down in flames (again), it will further hurt the school's basketball profile.
I don't have a lot by way of analysis, but here are three points to consider about today's matchup:
1. BYU has very little by way of the post game. This was a concern for me as early as last November, when I realized 99.9% of the scoring from this team would have to come from the outside. In basketball, sometimes there are those games where the shots simply will not drop, and having a good post to dump the ball into during those times is extremely valuable.
And these Cougars don't have that luxury. Chris Miles is mostly useless, and Brandon Davies is too young to have much effect today.
2. UNLV and New Mexico have each beat BYU twice this season. Both times they used their quick, physical guards to body up on Fredette and Emery and harass them incessantly. If Florida can do this, and I think they can, the Cougars are in for a long game.
3. Someone on the opposing team always manages to have the best game of his life against BYU in the tournament. Gerry McNamara scored 43 points against the Cougars in 2004, including 9 three-pointers, a Syracuse record. The entire Cincinnati team went completely bonkers in 2001, and they ended up shooting lights out from deep. I'm expecting some completely unknown Gator to be unconscious in this game.
4. Fredette is sick. He's been sick for the last half of the season, and his effectiveness has been lessened as a result. That said, every college basketball analyst loves this kid, and they should. If he can be the guy to go for 50 points, that bodes well for BYU.
That's about it. Better BYU teams have lost to worse opponents in the tournament, and my faith is low that this incarnation of the Cougars can break the streak.