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Coach Mark Pope looks ahead to NCAA tournament like no other

FILE Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope yells after referees charged BYU with a blocking foul rather than charge Gonzaga with a charging foul at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. Spencer Heaps, Deseret News

PROVO, Utah — Due to the pandemic, the NCAA tournament this March will be unlike any in college basketball history, and BYU head men’s basketball coach Mark Pope knows it.

The entire 2021 men’s basketball championship will be played in Indiana, with the majority of the NCAA tournament’s 67 games taking place in one city — Indianapolis.

BYU has three regular-season scheduled games remaining. They are:

  • BYU plays the Pacific Tigers on Thursday at 6 pm (MST) in Stockton, Calif.
  • The Cougars will face the Loyola Marymount Lions on Saturday at 1 pm (MST) in Los Angeles.
  • And for the last game, it’s back on home court: the Cougars will host Santa Clara on Feb. 25 at 6 pm.

As the home of the Cougars, all games will air on KSL NewsRadio at 102.7 FM and 1160 AM. 

Pope on the NCAA Tournament

What does the postseason look like for the Cougars?

KSL NewsRadio’s Amanda Dickson chatted with BYU coach Mark Pope to find out what he expects.


“Will you go into some sort of a bubble?” she asked.

Pope said preparing for the NCAA Tournament requires adjustments all the time. He said the team now undergoes testing three times a week.

“If we earn our way there [to Indiana], we will test seven consecutive days,” Pope said. “Everybody in our organization who has daily, regular access to our players and staff will test seven straight days before we’re allowed to leave Provo and fly to Indianapolis.”

Message to fans

“You have thousands of BYU basketball fans listening right now. Would you like to say anything directly to them?” Amanda asked.

Coach Pope said he and the team have missed the BYU faithful fans and their interaction together but are grateful for them.

“It’s been a weird year. It’s been so painful not to be able to share this with everybody in the Marriott Center [in Provo]. It just is not the same. We missed that game day on the court interaction with our fans so dearly. But with that said, we’re just so grateful for everybody’s support and the fact that we get to take these season journeys together.

“To be able to all do it together is what makes BYU — it’s what sets us apart from everybody else. It just is extraordinary. It’s one of the reasons why I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to be here and work with this team right now,” he said.




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