Mark Pope cheers on his team from the sideline. (Decker Westenburg)

BYU men’s basketball returns to familiar territory with NIT bid, extra home game

The BYU men’s basketball team was not selected on Sunday to the 68-team field of the NCAA Tournament, much to the dismay of fans, coaches and players.

The silver lining? The Cougars’ season is not over.

BYU accepted a bid to play in the NIT and compete against other teams denied a chance to win the “Big Dance” in what has been nicknamed the “Little Dance.”

BYU will enter the NIT as a 2-seed this year, facing Long Beach State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MDT in the Marriott Center. Seniors Alex Barcello and Te’Jon Lucas get on last chance to play at home in front of BYU fans.

LBSU has a 20-12 record and won the Big West regular-season championship. LBSU has some good size in its frontcourt, which could be a challenge for BYU’s undersized bigs to handle. Their offensive attack is balanced, with three players averaging double-digit points on the season. 

BYU’s offense has been the primary concern of the team throughout the year. When asked about BYU’s offensive strategy this season, head coach Mark Pope said, “Our foundation that we keep coming back to is, ‘Are we getting more shots and better shots, and are we giving up less shots and giving up worse shots?’” 

While the stakes might not be as high, there is still pride and bragging rights to be had by the Cougars, as winning the tournament would end the season on a high note with a trophy in hand.

The “Little Dance” used to be a much bigger deal, with many teams participating in it due to the NCAA Tournament having a smaller field. The NIT was instituted before the NCAA Tournament was, getting its start in 1938, a year before the “Big Dance.”

BYU has won the NIT twice, in 1959 and 1966. While a lot of time has passed since BYU won the tournament, the Cougars made it to the semifinals in New York as recently as 2016. The last time BYU played in the NIT was in 2018, with Dave Rose at the helm as head coach.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Top Sports Stories

Column: Was this the greatest year in the history of BYU women’s athletics?

Looking back at the 2021-22 season, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more dominant women’s athletics program than BYU.

BYU football prepares for ‘final tour’ of independence at annual media day

BYU football's final media day of independence is in the books, where Kalani Sitake and Tom Holmoe had plenty to say about the independence era, BYU's future in the Big 12 and the current state of college football as a whole.

Column: BYU Football Media Day won’t have a lot of questions to answer. That’s a good thing.

The 2022 edition of BYU Football Media Day should have less drama than an episode of "Seinfeld." This team has very few — if any — question marks surrounding its talent and potential.

BYU men’s basketball lands Arkansas transfer Jaxson Robinson

BYU men's basketball landed another transfer Thursday with the addition of Arkansas wing Jaxson Robinson.
- Advertisement -
Print Friendly, PDF & Email