BYU men's basketball vs. Gonzaga

BYU senior Zach Seljaas (left) and Yoeli Childs celebrate with fans who rushed the court during the 91-78 Cougar win at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.

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. 6/No. 11 matchup features the BYU team that got closest to the Final Four facing a Cougar squad that some thought could make a run and get there if circumstances had been different.

BYU mbb Dalton Nixon with seniors

BYU's Dalton Nixon (33) stands with fellow seniors Yoeli Childs (23) and Zac Seljaas near the end of an upset victory over No. 2 Gonzaga at the Marriott Center on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2020.

No. 6-seed: BYU 2019-20 (24-8, season ended early)

You know the story because it’s still so raw: A week before the Cougars would have played their first game in the NCAA’s, the tournament was cancelled due to concerns over the COVID-19 virus. BYU would have likely been a No. 6 seed and several national pundits had picked the Cougars as a darkhorse Final Four candidate.

BYU was the top 3-point shooting team in the country (42 percent) and also featured one of the best big men in the country in Yoeli Childs (22.2 points, 9,0 rebounds per game). He was part of a strong senior class that included Jake Toolson (15.2 ppg, 85 3-pointers) and T.J. Haws (14 ppg, 185 assists). The Cougars had overcome so much adversity — Childs’ nine-game NCAA suspension and numerous injuries — that they seemed destined to finish strong. BYU posted a 24-8 record and was ranked No. 17 in the final AP poll.

— Darnell Dickson

No. 11-seed: BYU 1949-50 (22-12, NCAA Elite 8)

This might have been the streakiest team in Cougar hoops history. Consider the ups and downs it went through during the year: six straight wins, losses in seven of the next eight, eight consecutive victories, four straight defeats and then closing the season with six more wins.

BYU was led by Joe Nelson (14.9 points per game), Roland Minson (12.3 ppg) and Mel Hutchins (11.8 ppg) and did enough to get to the NCAA tournament (which was in its final year of only having eight teams). The Cougars dropped a one-point heartbreaker to Baylor in the first round (the Bears fell to Bradley by two points in the Final Four, with Bradley falling to CCNY in the finals by three points). BYU rebounded to crush UCLA, 83-62, in the West regional third-place game.

— Jared Lloyd

Check back Wednesday for the No. 3/No. 14 seed matchup 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.

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