While the BYU basketball program has had a less than stellar overall record in the NCAA tournament, the Cougars have fared quite well in games between the 7th and 10th seeded teams. In fact BYU has won three of the five games played with those pairings.
The first was in 1987 when the Cougars faced the University of New Orleans Privateers. New Orleans had the 7th seed and the Cougars lost in a tightly contested battle, 83-79. BYU was led by future All-American Michael Smith and also had a budding star freshman on the team, Tyler Haws' dad Marty Haws.
The 1991 BYU team won the WAC tournament championship over Utah and entered the NCAA playoffs as a 10th seed. The Cougars defeated the favored Virginia Cavaliers, 61-48. The team was inspired by a record-setting 10 blocked shots by freshman phenom Shawn Bradley.
The 1992 Cougar team should have received better than a 10th seed, but instead was bracketed to play against Louisiana State and Shaquille O'Neal. The Tigers were also seeded lower than expected, and it set up a dream contest with "Shaq" and company against BYU's formidable front line. LSU prevailed, but only after the Cougars gave the Tigers a run for their money in the second half, when BYU briefly took the lead.
When the tables were turned in the 1993 NCAA tournament and BYU received a 7th seed, the Cougars made the most of it. The veteran Cougar lineup, led by Gary Trost and Russ Larson, downed the 10th-seeded Southern Methodist Mustangs in the first round, 80-71.
The last time the Cougars had a 10 versus seven matchup in the NCAA tourney was in 2010. Led by junior All-American Jimmer Fredette, BYU defeated the 10th-seeded Florida Gators in double overtime. That game included dramatic bench play from quick guard Michael Loyd, whose brother Jonathan Loyd is a starter for the 7th-seeded Oregon Ducks, BYU's opponent in this first round game.
Some may want to dwell on the fact that the Cougars as a 10th seed have only won one game, but I see it as an opportunity to pull together as a team and provide the school, the fans and injured star Kyle Collinsworth a moment of redemption from the dire forecasts of national pundits.
Ken Driggs of Mesa, Ariz., is a BYU graduate and served as Cosmo in the '60s. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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