March 18, 2010
BYU is #1!
Posted by Gordon Smith

The NCAA Basketball Tournament begins today, and BYU will play in the first game, tipping off against Florida in about an hour. In my freshman year at BYU, Danny Ainge made his famous full-court dash against Notre Dame to propel the team into the Elite Eight. Since then, BYU's experience has been a case study in futility. Yesterday, the WSJ pegged BYU as one of the most overseeded teams in the tournament over the past 25 years. Here is some BYU history from Greg Wrubell, for those of you who are curious:

  • only three teams have seven or more NCAA Tournament first round losses since 1994: BYU (7), Murray State (7) and Pennsylvania (8). In BYU's seven appearances since 1993, the Cougars' average seed is 9.7; Murray State's average seed is 13.1, while Penn has averaged a 12.3.
  • since the tourney expanded to 64 seeded teams in 1985, BYU has 13 appearances, with a record of 3-13.
  • BYU has advanced beyond the second round only once in school history.
  • BYU has the most NCAA Tournament appearances (24) without at least one Final Four appearance. Missouri has the second-most Final Four-less tourney appearances, with 22.
  • of 99 teams with at least 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, BYU is 91st in win percentage, at 28.9%.

Much to my surprise, given this history, BYU has become a fashionable Cinderella pick this year. ESPN's Joe Lunardi's (The Bracketologist) picks BYU to go to the Elite Eight; the WSJ looked at the statistics and projected BYU to Final Four; and Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel picks BYU to Final Four. Even President Obama has BYU winning the first round!

Most of the locals are afraid to hope for too much, but a first-round win today would be a great healer to the local psyche.


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