March 8, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Brigham Young Cougars guard Tyler Haws (3) shoots against Loyola Marymount Lions forward Nick Stover (11) during the first half in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

WCC Tournament: BYU v. San Francisco Preview & Prediction

There is a myth in sports that beating a team three times in a season is nearly impossible.  So the question heading into tonight’s BYU-San Francisco WCC Semifinal is, can the Cougars become myth busters and knock out the pesky Dons yet again?

Ever since BYU joined the WCC in the 2011-12 season, the Cougars and Dons have been in some battles.  Since the first matchup in Provo where BYU won by 25, the Cougars have went 4-1 but all victories have been by less than seven points.  The loss came last year at the Marriott Center where the Dons won by 13 and dashed BYU’s NCAA Tournament hopes.  The Dons look to spoil BYU’s tourney hopes yet again tonight in Vegas.

What will be the keys to victory for BYU to get to their first WCC Championship Game?  Here’s my three.

#1 Don’t let an unlikely hero emerge for USF

Why do I mean by a hero?  A man who goes on to have an outstanding performance that no one saw coming.  A hero.  Every time BYU falls to a team in the WCC this year, the Cougars have been victim to some unlikely player (i.e. Bobby Sharp) going off for something they haven’t done the entire year.  If San Francisco beats BYU tonight, it will be an upset.  BYU is the best team in the WCC right now, act like it.  Win the game on the defensive end and limit the heroes from emerging.

#2 Establish Eric Mika early and often

Mika is in a bit of a rut right now, it happens with freshman.  But if BYU wants to win the WCC Tournament and potentially advance in the NCAA Tournament, they need to Mika to play better.  The WCC All-Freshman selection this year needs to get looks early on.  BYU doesn’t have guards that can give quality post looks often, but when the opportunity comes they need to give Mika the rock.

There’s no reason why Mika shouldn’t be a double-double every night if he is out of foul trouble.

#3 Hit a 3-pointer

The Cougars didn’t hit a three-pointer for the first time since 1997 in their last game against Loyola Marymount.  Going empty from treyville won’t get it done against better teams.  The Lions were a depleted team on Saturday, BYU was expected to win big.  USF is more physical and can impose their will on the defensive end. BYU needs to get those momentum changing baskets that turn the tide.

Prediction: BYU 73, San Francisco 68

Game Info

#2 BYU vs. #3 San Francisco
Tip: 9:30 P.M. (MT)
Commentators: Dave Flemming & Sean Farnham

Tags: BYU Cougars Eric Mika San Francisco Dons West Coast Conference

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