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March Madness - Here We Come

Mar 12, 2008
With "March Madness" beginning to bud, that means that the conferences are winding up their seasons, and the tournaments are at the door. Tournaments are always interesting. Most often the number one teams emerge with the championship, but the "what if" is fun to watch.

Take for example the largely unsung Mountain West Conference. BYU is in the driver's seat with a record of 23-6 overall and 12-2 in conference. They are also ranked at 24 in the nation by ESPN.

If they win their last two games (Wyoming at home, and TCU in Ft. Worth) the conference title is theirs. But, even if they do that, (and they should) the conference tournament still looms, and it looms in Las Vegas.

"So what", you say?

Well, Las Vegas is home to the Runnin' Rebels of UNLV. UNLV happens to be in the number two spot in the Mountain West Conference standings with a 22-6 overall record, and 11-3 in the conference.

Last January, when the BYU Cougars waltzed into town, the Rebels sent them home with a 29 point drubbing that had the Cougars seriously questioning their team chemistry. Then why aren't the Rebels in first place you ask? The answer is simple if you follow the sometimes ( no most times) wacky Mountain West.

In February the UNLV Rebels played the away side of this "home and home" set and ran into problems in the Marriott Center. That night, BYU returned the favor by beating UNLV by 26 points.

What happened?

According to Dick Harmon of the Salt Lake Deseret News,

The Cougars are playing their best defense of the season right now during a stretch in which they've won 11 of their last 12 games. The lone slipup was at San Diego State, where they failed to slow down a career performance by Lorrenzo Wade.

Even at New Mexico, a hot J.R. Giddens scored 30 points but had to shoot the ball 26 times. After Steve Alford played him 44 minutes to keep the Lobos in that game, he faded when it counted, including three doughnuts from the line on a 3-point foul.

On Saturday, adjustments to BYU's help-side defense practically brought the Falcons' offense to a state of rest.

Ben Murdock, who started Saturday despite playing on a sore ankle, claims this week comes down to not fading or playing in spurts, getting off and then back on track.

"We need to play the full 40 minutes of a game and not have these ups and downs. If we do that, we'll be all right if we execute," said Murdock.

It also helps that the Cougars might be playing with as much confidence as they've had all season.

The turning point may have been the embarrassing humiliation UNLV handed the Cougars in the Thomas & Mack Center back in January. Since that game, Rose said he's seen his team work hard individually and collectively, relying on one another instead of going off on their own.

As is often said, That's why they play the game" Even if you are only a fan of the "major conferences", this matchup in Las Vegas should worth watching.
About the Author
Dan Mercurio is President of Elite Search Engine Optimization Company. We can administer a quality SEM campaign for you as we have for NFL Fan Gear | NBA Fan Gear | NCAA Fan Gear | MLB Fan Gear | NASCAR Fan Gear | NHL Fan Gear .
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