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.
The No. 12 seed traditionally has been a trendy upset pick in brackets and in this case that team has a big reason to be hopeful — but No. 5 will be tough to beat.
No. 5-seed: BYU 1987-88 (26-6, NCAA second round)
The Cougars — coached by LaDell Anderson — won 17 games in a row to begin the 1987-88 season and reached as high as No. 3 in the AP poll. Michael Smith (21.2 points per game) and Jeff Chatman (19.5) were terrific scorers surrounded by guards Marty Haws, Brian Taylor, Nate Call and Andy Toolson. Jim Usevitch patrolled the middle (14.8 points, 7.2 rebounds per game).
It was the first season that college basketball adopted a 3-point line and BYU used it well, shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc. The Cougars finished 26-6, topping UNC Charlotte 98-92 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Louisville 97-76 in the second round.
— Darnell Dickson
No. 12-seed: BYU 1990-91 (21-13, NCAA second round)
The Cougars got national attention for one very specific reason during the 1990-91 season: a freshman who happened to be 7-foot-6. Shawn Bradley was a force in the paint for BYU all season long, blocking 177 shots (eighth-most in a season in NCAA Division I history). He also led the Cougars in scoring, averaging 14.9 points per game as well as 7.7 rebounds per game.
He was aided by Steve Schreiner (14.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg) while guards Scott Moon and Mark Heslop were also key. The team started slow, sitting at 7-8 at one point, before coming on strong late. A pair of overtime wins in the WAC tournament — including beating Utah, 51-49, in the title game — earned BYU the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. As a No. 10-seed, the Cougars defeated Virginia in the first round before losing to No. 2-seed Arizona in the second round.
— Jared Lloyd
Be sure to get your vote logged at CougarBlue.com!
Check back Monday for the No. 4/No. 13 seed matchup in The Greatest BYU Men’s Basketball Team of All Time Bracket.