BYU Basketball has advanced to the final eight in the NIT.
It almost is crazy that I am here writing this, but I am starting to think that the NIT may have actually been the better route for BYU Basketball to go. Now before you throw your phone out the window or smash your screen at such a ridiculous statement, let me back up my claim.
Had BYU played in the NCAA Tournament, the odds are that the Cougars would have been a one and done, and at best a two game team before being eliminated by competition that simply would be better. Yes, I know there is always that chance of a magical run, but if we speaking logically, there is about a 95% that BYU’s season is already over by the time you are reading this had they been selected to the NCAA.
Also, had BYU been in the NCAA Tournament, all of the focus and game plan would have been centered around Alex Barcello and Te’Jon Lucas, two players who will not be with the team next year. Instead, many of the teams minutes are going players who will be asked to step up and lead the team next year.
Against Northern Iowa it wasn’t Alex Barcello and Te’Jon Lucas leading the team, rather it was Gideon George and Trevin Knell who led the Cougars in scoring. Regardless of what happens in the next round of the NIT, Spencer Johnson, Trevin Knell and Gideon George are averaging nearly double the amount of minutes that they had in big games this season (Gonzaga, San Francisco, Creighton, etc…).
Through three games, it is likely that the three players mentioned above will have played an additional 60-70 minutes with other backups who will have roles next season (Erickson, Atiki, Stewart) will have between 10-20 minutes. Nearly all of these minutes would have not taken place had BYU been in the NCAA Tournament.
Am I happy BYU is in the NIT instead of the Big Dance? Of course not. But I can at least recognize that in all likelihood, the Cougars weren’t going to do much this year anyway and setting up for a solid future will pay off dividends that could lead to more than we could have hoped for this year.