INDIANAPOLIS — The BYU basketball program is dancing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years and though it hasn’t played a game yet, despite being here since Monday, it is making the most of its experience during a unique March Madness.
Two BYU-related videos went viral on social media during Thursday night’s UCLA-Michigan State First Four game in West Lafayette, Indiana. Teams, like the Cougars, are holed up on their own hotel floor in individual isolation rooms during the tournament.
The first NCAA Tournament played during a pandemic requires daily COVID-19 testing. One video showed BYU players and coaches being introduced and hyped before taking their tests.
TBS, which broadcast the UCLA-Michigan State game, showed the video after the contest ended.
Another video featured junior guard Jesse Wade, who got stuck in an elevator Wednesday. The video shows teammates helping pry the elevator doors to release him. “Scariest moment of my life but I knew the boys had my back,” Wade tweeted.
Before heading to Indianapolis, coach Mark Pope hinted that his team would be a big presence on social media during the tournament.
“We’re going to be quarantined in our rooms, one to a room, for probably 24 hours where you can’t even leave your room. You’re stuck there by yourself,” Pope said Sunday. “Then essentially for the next five days we’ll be in the hotel. The only time we can leave our floor is to go to practice for an hour and 50 minutes, go lift for 45 minutes and then time we have in our meeting space. These guys are going to be really quarantined. I imagine they’ll go stir crazy. We have a lot of things planned that hopefully you’ll see registering some interest on social media. I’ll tease you with that.”
Certainly, the Cougars look like they’re having more fun than should be allowed in Indianapolis during the pandemic NCAA Tournament. They take on UCLA Saturday in the first round at Hinkle Fieldhouse.