NEW ORLEANS — If the underdog BYU Cougars are unable to knock off the Florida Gators here in the Southast Regional semifinal (5:27 p.m. MT, TBS), the Jimmer Fredette Era at BYU will come to an abrupt end.
With a victory, the Cougars would move on to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1981.
ESPN.com's Andy Katz offers this in-depth analysis of tonight's game at the New Orleans Arena.
Katz writes that Florida should win because, "The Gators have more overall depth and the potential for more production at various positions." But, he adds, "Never underestimate Jimmer. BYU is playing with its most confidence since the Brandon Davies suspension for an honor-code violation three weeks ago. BYU has now played seven games without Davies."
Here's the New York Daily News' view of Fredette as compared to the late Louisiana State scoring star Pistol Pete Maravich.
The Florida Times-Union looks at the friendship between Fredette and Gator star Chandler Parsons.
Meanwhile, SI.com writes that BYU could be "America's Team." Ann Killion looks at America's attraction to Jimmer and its decision to stick by its honor code.
"The BYU fans are in New Orleans today (free marketing idea to potentially frustrated Big Easy establishments: sell alcohol-free Jimmercanes. BYU nation will buy anything with the word Jimmer attached). BYU's game against Florida is a matchup of contrasts on many levels," she writes. "And America may be pulling for the Cougars. It's not just the power of Jimmer Fredette, a player who not only has a name that's fun to say but who also gives every average looking, not so tall, not uber-athletic person absurd hopes and dreams. Jimmermania is a seductive power but that's not BYU's only attraction.
"BYU stood up for something, stuck to its guns and its morals, no matter the consequences. BYU chose the non-hypocritical path. And, in this age of college sports, that's so unusual that it's actually shocking. And something that weary sports fans can applaud."
A Seattle P.I. blogger marvels at how Fredette plays. "I doubted Jimmer Fredette earlier this year. No more. The dude delivers. Consistently. I also doubted his team’s prospects in the tournament because they 'lost' Brandon Davies, but I underestimated BYU’s precision."
Katz looks at how last year's opening-round matchup between BYU and Florida paid dividends for both teams.
"It was also a chance for the mainstream sporting public to grasp onto Jimmer Fredette’s overall talent as he scored 37 points," Katz wrote. "Florida used that game as a springboard into this season. The Gators were preseason picks to win the SEC East and the overall conference title, which they did on the way to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
"BYU used the momentum of that win, even though it lost to Kansas State in the next round, to build for this season. Fredette was a first-team All-American in the preseason, and then ended the regular season as one of three favorites to win national player of the year. He has already been tabbed player of the year by one publication — the Sporting News on Tuesday. The Cougars were a top-three team prior to Brandon Davies violating the school’s honor code, and ended up still grabbing a No. 3 seed in the Southeast.
"So here they are again, this time meeting in the Sweet 16 with Houston and the Final Four within their sights. The region is wide open since the other game in the bracket is Butler-Wisconsin, both quality clubs but neither unbeatable for the Gators or Cougars."