3 BYU players who need to shine in the NCAA Tournament

If BYU wants to make a deep tournament run, these players will need to prosper.

Fousseyni Traore hauls in a rebound against Kansas
Fousseyni Traore hauls in a rebound against Kansas / Jamie Squire/GettyImages
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1. Fousseyni Traore

Fousseyni Traore
Fousseyni Traore reacts following a play against Baylor / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

It's been an up-and-down type of season for BYU's Malian big man. After being limited by an injury in the early part of the season, the man they call "Fouss" has been a dominant force in the Big 12 this season. Despite his 6'6" frame, he has a 7' wingspan and terrific athleticism to erase any size disadvantage that he might face. Along with his athleticism, he is incredibly strong with a low center of gravity that gives him the leverage to overpower taller big men.

In games where the Cougars struggle to make shots from long range, Traore's inside presence will need to be felt to keep them in close games. BYU has often struggled in road contests where they go cold from deep. Their inside scoring has been largely dependent on the looming threat of a 3-point barrage. When the 3-ball is falling, the inside game opens up significantly for cutting teammates and post scoring.

Fouss will be vital to the Cougar's success on the defensive end of the floor as well. While BYU's defense can be excellent, as it was in Tuesday's win over the Kansas Jayhawks, they have a tendency to let lesser offenses have season-best performances, like when K-State's Arthur Kaluma scored a career-high 28 points in a win over the Cougs, or when Oklahoma State dropped over 90 points on the Cougars, despite being among the conference's most inept offenses. Fouss will need to be a shot blocker, steal-nabber, and an irritant to opposing offenses. Dominate, big man.