BYU hoops takes on Pepperdine at home 24

Brigham Young Cougars fans regularly fill the student section during a BYU home basketball game against Pepperdine University on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 at the Marriott Center in Provo. BYU is one of the biggest private schools in the country, and much larger than many of its rivals in the conference. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

It’s impossible to fill the gaping void in the hearts of college basketball fans everywhere who are mourning the loss of their beloved NCAA basketball tournament — and its accompanying bracket excitement — in 2020 due to efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

But the Daily Herald’s BYU reporters Darnell Dickson and Jared Lloyd are giving Cougar fans a chance to play out a bracket of their own:

The Greatest BYU Men’s Basketball Team of All Time Bracket. Dickson and Lloyd combed through the annals of Cougar hoops history and have selected the 16 BYU squads they believe earned the right to vie for the illustrious title.

Those historic Cougar teams have been seeded by the committee (no computers or NET rankings here) and put into a four-round tournament — and you get the chance to vote for which team you think should advance all the way to the top.

Will there be upsets?

Will it just go straight chalk?

Will great memories of BYU stars of the past and present prove to be enough to propel one squad past another?

Cougar fans, you get to make those calls.

Don’t make your judgment based on which team you think would win if a squad from one era faced a squad from another. Given the numerous changes to the game of basketball in the last century, that method is virtually impossible.

Instead, you should select the team that you think has the better overall body of work — i.e. the one that was the “greatest” of the two that are matched up against each other.

Dickson and Lloyd will make a case for each team to help remind you of what they accomplished and then the choice will be yours.

Two squads who had a lot of contributors square off in the No. 3/No. 14 contest — but one was able to reach a higher pinnacle in the postseason:

Kresimir Cosic

BYU center Kresimir Cosic

No. 7-seed: BYU 1971-72 (21-5, NCAA first round)

While it might be overshadowed by other teams, this squad actually tied for the fewest losses of any Cougar squad in the modern era as it finished 21-5 overall. It’s regular season losses were pretty impressive as BYU only fell at Kansas, to Indiana at a tournament in Virginia, at Arizona State and at UTEP.

Led by the dominance of junior center Kresimir Cosic (22.3 points and 12.8 rebounds per game), plus the scoring of Bernie Fryer (18.2 points per game), the Cougars were ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation at one point and ended up ranked No. 9. If not for an overtime loss to No. 5-ranked Long Beach State in the first round of the NCAA tournament, this team might get a lot more attention for just how good it was during the UCLA-dominated era of college basketball.

— Jared Lloyd

Kevin Nixon

Kevin Nixon

No. 10-seed: BYU 1991-92 (25-7, NCAA first round)

Kevin Nixon’s three-quarter court heave to beat UTEP in the WAC Tournament championship game highlighted this season. The Cougars were a very balanced team with six players averaging nine points per game or better: Gary Trost (14.2), Kevin Nixon (10.9), Nick Sanderson (10.4), Mark Heslop (9.9), Russell Larsen (9.9) and Nate Call (9.4).

BYU won seven games in a row entering the NCAA Tournament as a No. 10 seed but got a tough draw against Shaquille O’Neill and LSU. The Tigers won that game 94-83. The Cougars finished the season 25-7 overall and were 14-1 at home.

—Darnell Dickson

Check back Friday for the final matchup of the first round as the No. 2 and No. 15 seeds battle in The Greatest BYU Men’s Basketball Team of All Time Bracket.

You can also vote in previous rounds as well:

Daily Herald sports reporter Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!