On a whim I decided to go down to the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas with my wife and some friends to see BYU play UNLV yesterday.
Worst. Decision. Ever.
Don't get me wrong, the drive was fun and the company was great. But the purpose of the trip, namely the game itself, was a giant kick in the soft stuff.
The atmosphere was intense. From the opening introductions, which included fireworks and thunderous applause, to the crowd's continuous chants of "You Suck," BYU was caught on its heels. We never matched the emotional intensity of the Rebels, and it showed after three minutes, when UNLV already had a 40 point lead (slight exaggeration).
The game really was lost in the first ten minutes. We started so slow, and the Rebels seemingly hit every single shot they put up. Every time they shot a three I'd think to myself "They can't possibly hit another one." Then they did.
It was rough.
And now I have mixed feelings. First, it looks like we're not as good as we all thought we were. If we really were a top-15 team, we should be able to beat UNLV, even on their own court.
Second, I'm not so sure a lot has changed from the past three years. It looks like once again we're going to battle for a good seed in the NCAA tournament, and we're probably going to struggle in the post-season.
It's at this moment that I almost have a meltdown, but then I take a deep breath and realize it's hard to win conference games on the road. BYU and UNLV know each other so well, and BYU get's every MWC team's best shot. In other words, you can't win 'em all.
The T&M was a great place, though, and the fans weren't too bad. I got a few jeers as I was walking out, but overall everyone was downright civil. And that's saying a lot for the conference's most heated (basketball) rivalry.
So to sum up, BYU isn't a top-12 team, but we're still pretty dang good. And we still control our own destiny in the MWC. Win all our games, win a conference championship.
And we'll see UNLV again in the tournament, perhaps a little wiser.