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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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Tonight's nonconference BYU basketball game will matter in March

Whether you believe the BYU basketball team is out of the NCAA Tournament as of right now (as Joe Lunardi of ESPN Bracketology fame does), or whether you believe the Cougars are among the Last Four In (as SI's Andy Glockner does in his Bracket Watch feature), you have to think that tonight's game at Virginia Tech (12-7) is huge for the Cougars (17-5).

Here's my preview of tonight's game, which tips off at 5 p.m. MST and can only be viewed on ESPN3 (online only).

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Looks like Virginia Tech is a slight favorite -- two or three points -- in the game.

BYU has never defeated an ACC team on its home floor; this might be the best chance the Cougars ever get, seeing as how the Hokies are 1-4 in ACC play. But coach Seth Greenberg's team has shown flashes of brilliance, like last Sunday when it knocked off Virginia.

The Cougars will have to be clicking on offense to win. They've gone 4 of 37 from 3-point range in their last two games, and will obviously need a better shooting percentage from beyond the arc to get the W.

After tonight's game, the Cougars will immediately return home on a charter flight and begin preparations for St. Mary's on Thursday.

The Gaels, meanwhile, have a tough road game at Loyola Marymount on Thursday, a game that is the focus of our West Notes on our college basketball page in this morning's Tribune.

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In the "Here We Go Again" department comes the latest conference realignment report/rumor, this time from the Chronicle of Higher Education. In a blog, writer Brad Wolverton reports that more Big 12 expansion is "very possible" and that Louisville is the most likely choice if the league decides to move to 11 schools.

"And Brigham Young, another university the conference has considered, continues to be a possible target," Wolverton notes.

In a chat with reporters a few weeks ago, BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall said he was never sold on joining the Big East (which said Tuesday it will add Navy in 2015). But Mendenhall did say the Big 12 is much more intriguing to the Cougars.

By the way, Big 12 spokesman Bob Burda told Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News this morning that "nothing is imminent" regarding further league expansion, according to Carlton's Twitter feed.



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