GAME NOTES: The 76th annual NIT gets underway on Tuesday, as the Washington Huskies tangle with the BYU Cougars in the first round of the event at the Marriott Center in Provo.
BYU, which now competes in the West Coast Conference, is listed as the third seed after producing a record of 21-11 overall. The team produced a solid 10-6 record in conference play, but was immediately ushered out of the league tournament on March 8 by San Diego in a 72-69 final at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
As for the sixth-seeded Huskies, who lost to Minnesota in the NIT semifinals last year, their Pac-12 Conference Tournament was also held in Sin City this year at the MGM Grand where they first dismissed Washington State by just a basket, 64-62, before bowing to Oregon (80-77) in overtime last week. Washington heads into this portion of the postseason with a record of 18-15 overall, after putting up a 9-9 mark in conference play.
The Huskies have broken even in their 12 previous appearances in this event, while BYU has posted a mark of 12-8 and has taken home the crown in both 1951 and 1966 with wins over San Jose State and New York University, respectively.
According to Washington, the Huskies lead the all-time series with BYU by a count of 10-8, but the squads are an even 4-4 when playing in Provo. The most recent meeting took place in 1997 when Washington claimed an 83-68 victory on the road.
The winner of this tussle will go up against the survivor of the Mercer/Tennessee contest in the second round.
A modest team at the offensive end of the floor, averaging 67.6 ppg, the Huskies are led by C.J. Wilcox who is putting up 16.7 ppg. Shooting 42.0 percent from the floor overall and 36.0 percent behind the 3-point line, Wilcox was first on the unit with 71 triples this season, which means he is now among the all-time leaders in that department for his career. For his efforts during the regular season, Wilcox was named Second Team All-Pac-12, after being honorable mention a year earlier and a member of the 2011 All- Freshman Team. Scott Suggs (12.4 ppg) and Abdul Gaddy (11.0 ppg) also play significant roles on offense, while Aziz N'Diaye (8.9 ppg) focuses his efforts on the glass where he was one of the league leaders with 9.2 rpg.
Not just one of the top scorers in the WCC this season, Tyler Haws was one of the most productive players in the nation with his 20.9 ppg as he shot close to 39 percent beyond the arc and was 86.8 percent accurate at the free-throw line. Add to that his 4.6 rpg and 43 steals and it was easy to see how he was named to the All-WCC Team. Joining Haws as one of the top players in the West Coast Conference was Brandon Davies with his 17.6 pg, to go along with 7.8 rpg which paces the program. As someone who is capable of doing a little bit of everything, Davies was first with 32 blocked shots and second in both steals (45) and assists (81). Matt Carlino (10.7 ppg) was responsible for 139 assists for a squad that generated 76.5 ppg.
Operating with a four-guard offense, the Cougars might be a bit overwhelmed when trying to size up Washington at the defensive end of the floor, but for BYU it is always a case of just trying to force the issue on offense and make opponents chase them anyway.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: BYU 81, Washington 74
03/19 10:38:28 ET