BYU vs. Saint Mary's 3

BYU forward Gavin Baxter stands in the foreground as fans yell during a game against Saint Mary's on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. 

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.

Our next matchup is always a toss-up since it pits the two closest seeds in the first round:

Danny Ainge

Currently working as president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge lived in Provo while playing basketball for BYU. Ainge played 14 seasons in the NBA. 

No. 8-seed: BYU 1979-80 (24-5, NCAA first round)

While Danny Ainge had better stats in his senior year, the Cougars were better across the board during his junior season. BYU finished with a better record with Ainge leading the Cougars with 19.1 points per game. He had an excellent supporting cast as well in Devin Durrant (13.1 ppg), Fred Roberts (12.9 ppg) and Alan Taylor (12.5 ppg, 10.5 rebounds per game).

The crown jewel of the season was the titanic showdown against LaSalle on Dec. 15, a 3OT classic that BYU won 108-106 despite Crusader star Michael Brooks scoring 51 points. The Cougars went on to go 13-1 in WAC play and win the conference. The only blemish for BYU was the fact that the No. 3-seeded Cougars got upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament by Clemson.

— Jared Lloyd

No. 9-seed: BYU 2009-10 (30-6, NCAA second round)

Even though the Cougars got off to a great start, BYU fans weren’t really sure what they had until Jimmer Fredette destroyed Arizona in Tucson, scoring 49 points. The Cougars opened the year at 20-1.

Tyler Haws, who would eventually pass Fredette as the school’s all-time leading scorer, was a freshman on that team. Jackson Emery and Noah Hartsock were key components and Jonathan Tavernari came off the bench. Michael Loyd Jr. had some spectacular late-season performances and scored 26 points (Fredette scored 37) in the Cougars’ 99-92 double overtime victory against Florida in the NCAA first round. The season ended with a loss to Kansas State in the second round but BYU finished 30-6 overall and 17th in the final AP poll.

— Darnell Dickson

Which of these two BYU men's basketball teams had the better body of work?

You voted:

Be sure to get your vote logged at CougarBlue.com!

Check back Saturday for the No. 5/No. 12 seed matchups in The Greatest BYU Men’s Basketball Team of All Time Bracket.

You can also vote in the No. 1/No. 16 seed battle.

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

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