San Diego State @ BYU

It’s a crazy thought that the matchup Wednesday night between #4 San Diego State (20-0) and #9 BYU (19-1) is said by some to be the game of the year, to date, in college basketball.  I say ‘crazy thought’ because neither team is accustomed to that type of label.  There’s a few factors here that make it, if not the most anticipated game thus far, near the top of that conversation.  For starters, both squads have a combined record of 39-1.  Detractors will say that the level of game-to-game competition in the Mountain West conference isn’t what it would be in other elite conferences, and you’d be right.  Surely playing TCU, Utah and the Air Force’s of the world is light years away from playing in the ACC, Big East or Big 10.  But while the combined records and national rankings are certainly important in deserving this hype, they are only 2 components of the match-up.  There’s also legitimate human interest.  Consider San Diego State.  No history.  No past player’s names who roll off the tongue.  Head coach Steve Fisher got the job in 1999 when the team had won 5 games the year before.  Coach Fisher told ESPN’s First Take this week that he used to literally pass out tickets on campus because the student interest level was non-existent.  Fast forward to the present day and San Diego State has reached 20 wins the past 5 seasons and they’re the first team in the nation with 20 wins this season.  Oh, and coach Fisher doesn’t have to pass out tickets anymore, as SDSU has sold out their 12,000+ capacity arena for the rest of the home schedule.  Then there’s BYU, a school with more of a history, a few more noteball alumni, but still doesn’t sit at the “cool table” with the top dogs of college basketball.  But here we are.  And how could I get this far into a post without mentioning the player of the year candidate…..wait for it….Kawhi Leonard!  LOL. While BYU’s Jimmer Fredette has hogged SportsCenter (for good reason), Leonard has quietly become mentioned as a top 5 player in the nation alongside Fredette.  This beast of a Sophmore has 13 double-doubles in 20 games and has a large hand in the fact that San Diego State has the 7th highest field goal percentage in division 1 basketball (Over 350 teams!).  Rarely do we have a showdown of two top 10 teams, each having a top 5 player.   Although someone can make an argument as to why Kawhi Leonard isn’t a ‘top-5’ guy, the same can’t be said for his counterpart at BYU.  Fredette has taken the nation by storm due to to his freakish scoring outbursts.  To say Jimmer Fredette has been hot would almost be a backhanded compliment.  The ‘slow white guy’ has scored 110 points in his last 3 games!!  It’s clear that Jimmer’s personal success and BYU’s success go hand-in-hand.  And while Fredette has absolutely torched defenses this season, all of his highest scoring outputs came on the road (47 @ Utah, 42 @ Colorado State, 39 @ UNLV, 34 @ Buffalo).  Please believe BYU will need Jimmer to put up points at home in Provo, Utah if they plan on knocking off the 4th ranked team in the nation.  On Tuesday Jimmer was interviwed on ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption and called Wednesday night’s game against San Diego State one of the biggest in the history of the Mountain West Conference.  Being that Fredette has yet to disappoint in a big-game situation, I’m expecting the unexpected…which with Jimmer is becoming, well…expected.

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One Response to San Diego State @ BYU

  1. Brian Lindsay says:

    I can’t wait for the matchup tonight! Jimmer always rises to the occasion and I don’t have any reason to think it will be any different tonight. I just hope in the process he makes some of those shots that leave you shaking your head with a grin on your face wondering how he just made that. Many that aren’t familiar with him think alot of his shots are just lucky whether it be a fade away 3 pointer or drilling a shot 40 ft out, etc is luck but in reality he is to consistent to be luck. Anyone out there that isn’t already following BYU this year I suggest you start tuneing in b/c this is his senior yr and I dunno if we will ever be able to watch a kid from foothills council in upstate New York will ever have the spot light in college basketball like this ever again…

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