Lose the battle in order to win the war?
BYU's disappointing loss to San Diego all but closed any opportunity at an-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Sure, the Cougars could run the gauntlet the remainder of the regular season, beating Gonzaga and Saint Mary's along the way, but is that really a feasible scenario considering what we know of the 12-13 Cougs? Additionally, BYU could just win the WCC Tournament and settle the question altogether.
I just do not see either coming to pass.
Reader James makes the case that the NIT would be more valuable than a one-and-done NCAA berth. He argues in this way:
1) Tournament experience. BYU's record against the RPI Top 75 is this: 0-6, and 5 of them were blowouts. Let's face it: BYU would be one and done in the NCAA tourney, likely even in the first four. Instead of seeing one extra tormenting game, BYU could get an opportunity to play in more winnable games, which could result in an extended postseason. This would give Dave Rose's squad a chance to gain some invaluable tournament experience moving forward. Even more important, it would give Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino some good leadership experience building into next season.
2) More games at the Marriott Center. If the Cougars were able to secure a high seed in the NIT, they would be able to get multiple home games in Provo. This would give The ROC a chance to cheer BYU on in tournament games. Nonetheless, it would give Cougar fans a chance to see their team a couple more times at home, where BYU, by the way, does pretty good. Since 1986, BYU hasn't lost a single home game in the NIT, and are 6-0 in that span.
3) Madison Square Garden? Wouldn't it be awesome to see BYU play at Madison Square Garden again? I think it would. It would be a fun opportunity for regional fans and wealthy fans to go to New York City and watch the Cougars play basketball.
BYU would certainly get a favorable seed and the ability to practice through the offseason. The NIT is an exhibition, much like the college football bowl season, and coaches use it to better the program for the future. I don't think many BYU fans would choose the NIT over the NCAA Tournament, but the question is whether the former will be more conducive to future success. A first-round drubbing and only an additional week of practice versus a foreseeable long-run in the NIT to develop the program. Dayton, the 2010 NIT Champ did not make the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Wichita State, winner of the 2011 NIT went on to garnering a 5-seed in the 2012 Big Dance. Stanford won last year's NIT and look to be on the outside-looking-in on the 2013 field.
What say you?