Commentary

Jury still out on BYU Cougars

Despite a second loss to New Mexico, this one at home, it's too soon to panic in Provo

Updated: March 3, 2011, 1:41 PM ET
By John Gasaway | Basketball Prospectus
Jimmer FredetteAP Photo/Colin E BraleyWill Jimmer Fredette and the Cougars fade away in March without Brandon Davies? Not necessarily.

At least BYU knows it's highly unlikely it'll see New Mexico in the NCAA tournament. Given how the Cougars have fared the past couple years against the Lobos, that's probably a good thing.

Last night Steve Alford's team journeyed to Provo, Utah, and came away with an 82-64 win against the No. 3 team in the country. It was the first game that BYU played without starter Brandon Davies, a 6-foot-9 sophomore who's been suspended from the team for a violation of the university's honor code. Inevitably the Cougars' performance has raised questions about their NCAA tournament prospects, questions that would have seemed unthinkable last Saturday when BYU scored an undeniably impressive 80-67 win at San Diego State.

Was it really just 72 hours ago that this team was widely viewed as on track for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament? Then again, the Cougars' seed is up to the selection committee and, anyway, the opponents that BYU will face in the NCAA tournament won't differ dramatically in quality the first couple rounds whether they're a 1-, a 2- or even a 3-seed. What interests me more than where this team will be seeded is just how far it can go in the tournament. No Mountain West team has made the second weekend of the tournament since UNLV reached the Sweet 16 in 2007. Can BYU, even without Davies, snap that streak?

Here's what you need to know about BYU, without Davies and after the New Mexico debacle:


To read John Gasaway's breakdown of the chances of a long March run for BYU without Brandon Davies, you must be an ESPN Insider.