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BYU basketball: Nonconference scheduling a headache for Cougars, too

First Published      Last Updated Mar 16 2017 09:35 am

Provo • Texas-Arlington ventured into the Marriott Center on Wednesday for a late-night showdown with BYU owning the best Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) of any non-West Coast Conference team to visit the Cougars this season.

UTA had an RPI of 45, better than six NCAA Tourney teams: Virginia Tech (48), Michigan State (50), Northwestern (51), Providence (56), Kansas State (57) and Marquette (61).

Disgusted at being left out of the Big Dance, Illinois State coach Dan Muller took to Twitter to advertise for a home-and-home series with any Power 6 Conference team wanting a "quality road win" against a "top 33 RPI" club, the Redbirds. Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork responded, got coach Andy Kennedy involved, and a series was set up.



BYU coach Dave Rose has also struggled to get quality opponents to play the Cougars, but probably won't turn to Twitter to attract teams to Provo.

"Well, I think for the last 10 years that we have probably called upwards of 100 schools in power conferences every year, trying to schedule home and homes," Rose said. "And we are having a hard time now getting guarantee games for a one-shot deal at their place.

"So, I understand his pain," Rose continued. "I understand how he feels. I am not on social media, but if I was on social media, I would definitely retweet — is that what you do, you retweet it? — for me I would retweet it, yeah."

Confusing new NIT rules

As fans probably noticed Tuesday night when the initial 2017 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) games were played around the country, or on Wednesday night when BYU hosted UT Arlington, the NCAA experimented with some new rules.

Most notably, each half was divided into two 10-minute segments, and team fouls were reset to zero at the 9:59 mark of each segment. They weren't officially "quarters" because the clock wasn't stopped. After four fouls in a segment, each additional foul resulting in two free throws, thereby doing away with the "one-and-one" situations.

Also, the shot clock was set at 20 seconds when the ball was inbounded in the front court.

"I just hope I understand them," Rose said Monday. "I guess they reset it so your first foul after the 10-minute [mark] isn't a shooting foul, even though it is the seventh, or whatever the number is. … if this was the experimental rule to do, why wouldn't we have a 10 minute quarter, and a 10 minute quarter, and a 10 minute quarter? So we are going to be playing the game and at 9:59 I am going to be nervous for the guy who is supposed to reset the fouls? That's what I will be nervous about."

No BYU-Utah rivalry renewal in NIT

In the days leading up to Sunday's NIT bracket announcement, speculation ran rampant in Utah that the Cougars and University of Utah would be paired in a first- or second-round game. That didn't happen, as both rivals received a No. 3 seed and were placed in different brackets. The soonest they could have met was in the NIT championship game at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

It was all made moot on Tuesday night when Utah lost 73-68 to Mountain West also-ran Boise State at the Huntsman Center. BYU coach Dave Rose was asked Monday whether "deep down" he was hoping for a shot at the Utes, since coach Larry Krystkowiak paid $80,000 to get out of a contracted and scheduled game in Provo last December, citing "safety" issues and the "highly venomous and toxic environment" that games produced.

"I felt like there was a chance that that could happen, and if it did happen I think the whole state of Utah would have been excited to have a chance to see that game," Rose said. "But somehow it ended up as a long shot. Hopefully, we both get there and get a chance to play. It would be a long ways away from the state of Utah to play that game, but I think a lot of people would come watch it."

BYU and Utah are scheduled to play this coming December in Provo and in 2018 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.

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