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BYU Basketball Fans Turning NIT Game Against Washington State Into Hot Ticket

Mar 22, 2022, 1:57 PM
BYU Basketball - Fans - Marriott Center...
BYU fans cheer during an NCAA game against Central Methodist at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. (Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)
(Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball didn’t want to be in the NIT, but they’ve embraced their spot and are now looking to advance to New York City. Cougar fans are now getting behind them as well.

BYU will host Washington State in an All-Cougars matchup in the NIT quarterfinals on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM). The crowd expected to be on hand for BYU-Washington State could be a large one as the Cougars in blue look to advance to have a chance to play in the NIT Semifinals at basketball’s mecca, Madison Square Garden.

After being available to the general public for less than two hours on Monday, BYU fans sold out the tickets to the lower bowl for Wednesday’s All-Cougar matchup. Each of the lower bowl tickets was $25.

As of Tuesday afternoon, fans sold out tickets to 14 of the upper bowl sections with limited availability in most of the other upper bowl sections. The upper bowl ticket prices are $15 on BYUtickets.com.

BYU basketball has a chance to play at MSG

Not only is a trip to Madison Square Garden on the line, but this is officially the final home game of the season. The last game in the Marriott Center for a star like Alex Barcello that has been part of every game coached by Mark Pope during his three years as head coach at BYU. So Cougar Nation is showing up for one last game before either the end of the season or a visit to the Big Apple.

The Marriott Center holds 18,987 fans. It used to hold 22,000 when it first opened 50 years ago, in 1971. The biggest crowd for an NIT game at the Marriott Center was in 2000 when Southern Illinois rolled into town for an NIT second-round matchup. A total of 16,949 fans were on hand to watch BYU defeat the Salukis coached by former Illinois and Kansas State coach Bruce Weber. The NIT used attendance as a metric to determine who would host the next round. So BYU fans showed up in huge numbers to get Notre Dame to travel to Provo. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as the NIT still sent BYU to the Joyce Center in South Bend.

But Wednesday night’s crowd against Washington State could threaten that record attendance in 2000 if the ticket sales are accurate.

Five biggest crowds at the Marriott Center for an NIT game

1. Southern Illinois (2000) – 16,949

2. Washington (1982) – 15,689

3. Creighton (2016) – 15,525

4. Mercer (2013) – 12,929

5. Virginia Tech (2016) – 12,379

BYU vs. Washington State

NIT Quarterfinals

Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Tip: 7 p.m. (MT)

TV: ESPN2

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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