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Seeding and home games provide favorable advantage for BYU basketball

Even with the disappointment of not making the NCAA championship basketball tournament, a ray of light was shining on the BYU basketball program. The consolation prize, a selection to the National Invitation Tournament, offered an opportunity to continue competing this season with two built-in advantages — good seeding and home games.

This same opportunity came to the Cougars after the 2013 regular season and conference tournament. In that year, BYU had a good seed in the NIT, winning two home games and one away game before losing to an outstanding Baylor team in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

This year, with two home game wins under their belt and a third home game looming Tuesday against a good Creighton team, the Cougars have shown again that with favorable conditions the postseason prospects can be pretty bright.

Two conditions were favorable to the Cougars — a No. 2 seed in the bracket and two home games on the schedule — but prospects for success really took off when the bracket No. 1 seed lost a game, giving BYU the third home game arrangement.

This favorable setting was advanced by the noise level in the Marriott Center, especially the Roar of Cougars student section. Even though the attendance numbers were not as high as some home games during the regular season, the electricity could be felt during both home games and should be there on Tuesday.

Historically BYU has not fared that well in NCAA Tournament competition. They didn't win an NCAA Tournament game between 1993 and 2009, even though they sometimes had a slightly better seed.

This disappointment ended dramatically in 2010 when the Jimmer Fredette-led Cougars defeated Florida in double overtime. BYU fans were happy that the monkey was finally off the back of the program.

An interesting scenario has now developed with BYU postseason prospects. Since 2010, the Cougars have played three NCAA games as the better seed and won all three of those games while losing all four of its games as a lesser seed.

During that period, BYU played twice as a comparably seeded team. The games were called "play in" games to get into the round of 64 teams in the tournament. As you would expect, the Cougars split those two games.

The goal for the team is always to make the NCAA Tournament, but in reality the goal needs to be a No. 4 seed or better. The possibility of winning at least two games during March Madness has to be enhanced with that favorable situation.

The numbers don't lie. Since 2010, the Cougars have won nine NCAA and NIT games and will go for No. 10 on Tuesday. Consolation prize or not, I am all in. The crowd should be rocking and the prospect of New York City has to be energizing.

Ken Driggs of Mesa, Arizona, is a BYU graduate and served as Cosmo in the ’60s. Contact him at