BYU entered the 2012 NCAA tournament as the one of the last two teams in the tournament and on Tuesdaty nightm, came back from a 25 point deficit to defeat Iona 78-72, in the 1st round.
Coached by Dave Rose, the Cougars finished third in the WCC during the regular season with a 12-4 conference mark, but failed to earn the automatic bid by losing to Gonzaga 77-58 in the semifinals.
The Cougars have an impressive group of double-digit scorers that leads a high-powered offensive attack. Six-foot-eight junior forward Noah Hartsock leads the attack averaging 16.7 points per contest. Hartsock also puts up 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting 57 percent of the field. He led the Cougar comeback on Tuesday night, scoring 23 points on 10-14 shooting.
Teammate Brandon Davies (6'9") anchors the inside for BYU. The junior forward scores 15 points per game while leading the team in rebounding at 7.3 per game. He also had a big game against undersized Iona, scoring 18 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.
Freshman Matt Carlino and senior Charles Abouo also score in double figures. Carlino, the teams point guard has had a solid freshman campaign, scoring 12.7 points and dishing out 4.7 assists per game. Abouo provides a dose of athleticism on the wing, pouring in 11.5 points and grabbing 6.5 rebounds per game.
Typically ,Iona goes nine deep. Brock Zylstra (6'3"), Anson Winder (6'7"), Nate Austin (6'4"), Craig Cusick (5'11") all average double-digit minutes per game. Damarcus Harrison (6'5") also gets minutes and infact scored 12 points in the first-round win over Iona.
Some assorted rankings: BYU averages 78.2 points per game (13th nationally); 38.5 rebounds (21st nationally); 17.0 assists (6th nationally); and 46.8 percent field goals (43rd nationally).
Davis and Hartsock vs. Crowder and Wilson:The size and skill of BYU's post players would be cause for concern for any team but for Marquette, a team without size or depth, it becomes crucial. Marquette must contain these two while staying out of foul trouble to win this game.
Marquette's pressure vs. BYU's guards:As Iona showed in the first half, BYU's guards can be susceptible to pressure. Marquette will likely show some of their 1-2-2 3/4-court pressure against BYU in an attempt to turn them over or slow them down. If MU can cause havoc in the backcourt, it could be a long day for the Cougars.
BYU finished third in the WCC with a 12-4 record, behind fellow tournament teams, Gonzaga and St. Mary's. The Cougars went a combined 1-4 against the Zags and Gaels. Additionally, BYU lost to the two other tournament teams they faced, Wisconsin and Baylor.
Ranked No. 45 in the RPI, the Cougars went 1-6 versus the RPI top 50. They were able to rack up a few solid wins (4-0 vs. RPI 51-100) but lost a few games they shouldn't have (8-2 vs. RPI 101-200). The Cougars entered the tournament with an SOS of 101.
The #3 seed was good to Marquette in 2003 and there is a chance it could be just as magical in 2012. The Golden Eagles do not have an easy road ahead and it all begins on Thursday.
BYU is a big, tough and fundamentally sound team that has enjoyed recent success in the NCAA Tournament.While Jimmer Fredette may not be suiting up for BYU this year, the rest of the team experienced the dance along with him.
BYU's size and strength on the interior will be a strong test for Marquette. With BYU having a game under their belt, momentum may be in their favor but MU should not have tired legs.
If Marquette were to beat BYU, a tough game against either Murray State or Colorado State, looms in the third round. A potential Sweet 16 matchup against Big 12 champion Missouri could be one of the more exciting matchups of the tournament.
The key for Marquette is to protect the basketball and paint touches (getting them offensively and preventing them defensively). If Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom play like First Team All BIG EAST selections, the sky is the limit for the Golden Eagles.
NCAA Breakdown: BYU
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