What a Sweet 16 Appearance Would Mean to BYU

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By: Mitch Harper (Twitter: @Mitch_Harper)

It’s been 30 years.  30 years since the last time a BYU Men’s Basketball team was in the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, or as many call it the Sweet 16.

Today in Denver against the Bulldogs of Gonzaga, BYU could end this end 30-year drought and get back to the Sweet 16, and be one step closer to the goal of getting to the Final Four.  Something the Cougars have never been to.

Looking back on the years it has taken getting to this point has had many ups and downs.  BYU Basketball 14 years ago was arguably the worse team in College Basketball.  Guys like Steve Cleveland, Heath Schroyer, and Dave Rose came to Provo and brought respectability back to this program.  In just four years under Cleveland, BYU was back in the NCAAs.  Cleveland led BYU to three NCAA Tournament appearances, but never won a game in the Big Dance.

In comes Dave Rose.  An easy choice to take over the program when Cleveland left for Fresno State.  Cleveland again, brought respectability back to BYU Basketball, but Rose has taken this program to new heights that have never been seen before.

Rose, currently in his sixth season at BYU has taken the Cougars to the post-season every year.  Five NCAAs Appearances and one NIT.  The NIT appearance came in his first season as head coach when BYU was picked to finish dead last in the Mountain West Pre-Season poll.

The program has had heartbreak in the NCAAs.  Close losses to Xavier and Texas A&M.  Then a disappointing blowout to the same Texas A&M squad a year later.  Continuing a winless NCAAs drought that dated back to 1993.  Finally that came to an end with a dramatic 2-Overtime win over 10-seed Florida in 2010 in Oklahoma City led by the heroics of Jimmer Fredette and Mike Loyd Jr.  BYU then lost in the second round to 2-seed Kansas State led by Clemente and Pullen.  But progress had been made in the program, and it was a banner year in terms of wins.  The first ever 30-win season in program history.

This year, a program that is garnering some pre-season buzz with Jimmer as a Pre-Season All-American choice.  This was the team to finally make not only a one game run in the Tourney but multiple weekends.

BYU finished this season with a 30-4 record.  Two of those losses coming against teams in this year’s field of 68.  The team also added another MWC Championship, the fourth in the Dave Rose era.

The Cougars won another NCAA Tournament game.  The first time the program has won NCAA games in back-to-back years since the 1950 & 1951 Tournaments.

The program is on the cusp of doing something great.  A Sweet 16 appearance would mean big things for BYU Basketball.  Many feel the ceiling is very low for BYU Hoops, that a second weekend appearance in the Tournament is something that you really shouldn’t expect.  This can get the monkey off people’s back and get this program a lot of confidence going into a new and exciting West Coast Conference next season.

If BYU were to advance to the Sweet 16 it would be a great story nationally as well.  To show people that you can win by doing things the right way.  Brandon Davies suspension was unfortunate and all of Cougar fans wish he was out there right now, but that’s the way BYU does things.

This program is due.  Despite the loss of Davies, this is still a great team and win or lose this has been a remarkable season.  But this great team, with a special special player deserves to be in that second weekend with the nation’s eyes continuing to watch The Jimmer and this squad grow.

Cougar Fans, It’s Time. Lights.

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