The Mountain West Conference has never created this much buzz.
The up-and-coming league is ranked fourth in the RPI behind the Big East, Big Ten and Big 12 and will feature two top-10 teams at its tournament in Las Vegas this week in BYU and San Diego State while showcasing Cougars scoring machine Jimmer Fredette, one of the favorites for national player of the year, and Aztecs super sophomore Kawhi Leonard.
The real rumble, though, is all about one player who won't be on the court for a single minute.
Cougars center Brandon Davies became the talk of the sports world last week when he was suspended for violating BYU's honor code by reportedly having sex with his girlfriend. BYU is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and students vow to abide by its honor code, which prohibits premarital sex.
One of Fredette's favorite targets in the post, Davies averaged 11.1 points and set the tone as the Cougars' defensive stopper and top rebounder.
"It's a loss, but I don't know how big of a loss," TCU coach Jim Christian said. "Once they get used to it, I think they're still a great basketball team."
BYU's path to the Final Four appears much more difficult than it did a week ago, however. The Cougars (28-3) fell five spots to No. 8 in the AP Top 25 poll Monday, one spot behind San Diego State (29-2).
"BYU is not a one-man team," Aztecs coach Steve Fisher cautioned.
Yet, he knows exactly what Davies meant to the Cougars, who handed the Aztecs their only two losses.
"Brandon was one of the better post players in the league," Fisher said. "He got better every game as you watched him grow as a young sophomore. He runs the floor extremely well. He's a big part of what they do. He will be missed and yet they got a lot of good players."
With Fredette leading the nation in scoring and Davies serving as his Robin, the Cougars looked like national title contenders. They were ranked third in the country after sweeping the Aztecs.
In their first game without Davies, the Cougars were trounced by New Mexico for a second time before bouncing back to beat Wyoming to claim a share of the conference crown and the tournament's top seed.
"We had kind of an interesting week here," BYU coach Dave Rose deadpanned at the start of his segment on the conference coaches call Monday.
Although the Cougars routed Wyoming 102-78 Saturday with Davies at the end of BYU's bench in street clothes, there's no denying the degree of difficulty for BYU this week -- and especially in the NCAA tournament -- has gone way up.
"Well, Brandon played a real big part defensively, especially in the back end of that zone for us," Rose said. "He's a good rebounder, and he played a lot of minutes, 25, 26 minutes a game for us. I know there's other guys on our team right now that are looking forward to that opportunity. If we can rebound from that position and score from that position similar to how Brandon did, then I think we'll be fine."
The Cougars were already down a big man when Chris Collinsworth suffered a season-ending knee injury in January, and without Davies, they basically employed a four-guard lineup against New Mexico and Wyoming.
"Any loss this time of year hurts," TCU's Christian said. "But obviously they rebounded and scored 60-something points against Wyoming in the second half of that game, so they obviously figured some things out."
This marks the final week for the Cougars and Utah in the 12-year-old Mountain West Conference. With their powerhouse football program going independent, the BYU basketball program moves to the West Coast Conference next season and Utah is moving to the expanded Pac-12.
Davies' return to the Cougars next season is in limbo.
"There's still a lot of things that have yet to be determined and they will be over the course of the next few weeks, I'm sure," Rose said. "It's a combination of administration, it's a combination of his desire and his willingness to want to be here, to come back. And if those things are met, then our team would love to have him."
Rose insisted Davies' suspension and the reaction it has generated won't adversely affect BYU's future.
"Players pretty well understand what BYU is and I think most of them come here because of that," Davies said in dismissing the notion that BYU's strict honor code that all students agree to abide by puts the Cougars at any competitive disadvantage on the recruiting trail or the basketball court.
"We're not every other school and our players understand that when they come to BYU that there is a standard that they are expected to live (up to)," he said. "And if they would rather live (up to) another standard that's more comfortable for them or they'd rather play for a team other than BYU, they have that option.
"We all know. All 602 student-athletes and all 35,000 students know. It's something that they choose."