In case you didn’t know, tomorrow’s BYU-San Diego State game is a big deal.
How big? Nearly 23,000 people are expected to attend the showdown between the No. 4 Aztecs and the No. 9 Cougars. Nearly every national sportswriter and 24 NBA scouts will be there. Even a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament could rest on the outcome.
“Everybody wants to come and watch this game. It’s a big deal. It’s two top 10 teams playing against each other. In the Mountain West Conference, that’s something that doesn’t happen all that often,” Jimmer Fredette told the Deseret News. “We know everybody’s going to be watching and following it. If we can win it, it will help us with everything — we’d be No. 1 in the conference at that point, we might move up in the rankings, the (NCAA) selection committee will see a great win on our schedule. It’s definitely the most important game we’ve played so far.”
The only downside? The loser is gonna take a big hit in its national perception.
“This game,” San Diego State’s D.J. Gay told the San Diego Union Tribune, “is either going to be an ‘I told you so,’ or ‘Wow, they really are this good.’”
That’s life outside the power conferences. Even though the Mountain West has passed the SEC in kenpom.com’s conference rankings and both the SEC and Pac-10 in the Sagarin ratings, it doesn’t get the same respect in terms of rankings or respect.
Few people have seen either SDSU or BYU play. Big East, Big Ten and Big 12 schools are on all the time. That’s why teams like Georgetown, Florida or Michigan State can stay in the Top 25 every week despite underwhelming results. Hell, K-State just dropped out despite losing four of its last five!
My guess is the loser drops at least five spots, maybe as many as seven despite this being a Top 10 showdown. Normally a team loses to another in the Top 10, they stay in the Top 10. Some even stay in the Top 10 despite losing to unranked teams. (The NCAA tournament seeding committee should be more fair.)
The one redeeming factor? BYU and SDSU play again on Feb. 26. The loser can earn some redemption then.
Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.