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BYU basketball: Cougars road to NCAAs begins at its conference tourney

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The BYU Cougars are no more of a shoo-in to make the NCAA Tournament than Glass Joe was to upset Mike Tyson in the infamous Nintendo “Punch-Out” video game you played as a kid.

That said, on Wednesday, March 5 CBSSports.com picked the Cougars to win the West Coast Conference Tournament starting Thursday, March 6 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

21-10 BYU’s road to the Big Dance is fraught with peril in Sin City. The Cougars will open with either Portland or Loyola-Marymount.

LMU thumped BYU in Los Angeles 87-76 and the Cougars played the Pilots in a knock-down, drag-out triple-OT slug fest reminiscent of when you took on “Iron Mike“ back in the good ‘ol days -- whew, before losing 114-110.

After that not-so-easy match-up -- and if the Cougars survive it -- they would face the winner of San Francisco or San Diego in the semis.

BYU did have an easier time with USF or USD in the regular season, winning all four games it played. And while neither team is capable of putting up triple digits like Portland or LMU, this is a conference tournament -- so it will be all or nothing for a chance to make it to the Big Dance.

If BYU is able to make it past those two games it will either be No. 1 seed Gonzaga or Saint Marys -- both perennial NCAA Tournament teams -- waiting for the Cougars in the championship.

But hey, CBSSports.com could be right. For BYU fans sake, that Web site had better be -- because an exit any earlier than the semifinals in Vegas means the Cougars might be looking at a trip to the NIT instead.

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