If Brigham Young Makes the NCAA Tournament, the Field Better Watch Out
Yes, the BYU Cougars lost to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference championship. And yes, the Cougars have lost nine games, including five in conference.
It's also true that BYU was swept by Pepperdine, beaten by San Diego and that they've played just the 62nd-hardest schedule in college basketball, according to our metrics.
And if that wasn't enough to convince you that BYU isn't the kind of team deserving of a spot in this year's Big Dance, take a look at their mediocre defense that ranks 141st in all of NCAA basketball.
If all that's true (and it is), how could the Cougars possibly be one of the most underrated teams in the nation? How could they be among Joe Lunardi's Last Four In? Why do we have them in the tournament?
Well, I'm here to tell you why they not only deserve a spot in this year's field of 64, but why you should give them a good, long, hard look when filling out your bracket on Monday.
|nERD Rank||RPI Rank||BPI Rank||Best Win|
As you can see, outside of their poor strength of schedule (much due to the fact that they play in the WCC), the Cougars have a pretty solid resume heading into Selection Sunday.
With a nERD of 12.19, BYU is the 26th-ranked team in our power rankings -- rankings sorted by nERD, our in-house metric that measures overall team efficiency and acts as an estimate of a team's point differential against an average team on a neutral court.
So, if you were to seed each tournament team based on our numbers, that means that the Cougars would be a 7 seed heading into the tournament. The Cougars' RPI may differ, but their BPI ranking would also have them as a 7 seed.
If numbers and rankings aren't enough, the Cougars have one of the best wins a bubble team could have, too -- at number-three Gonzaga, on the eve of March -- and are 10-2 in their last 12 contests. That screams tournament team.
Even as they sit on the right side of the bubble, the Cougars might be much more than just another NCAA tournament team. With all their talent and offensive firepower, they might be future spoilers and upset instigators.
BYU, according to our numbers, is slated as an 11 seed while Joe Lunardi slots the Cougars in at a 12 seed, currently in a play-in game with the Indiana Hoosiers.
If that's the case, there might not be a better place to look for a 12/5 upset. If the Cougars get yet another chance to improve upon their current hot streak and win a game against a team like Indiana, I fear for just about every team in their path. A confidence boost is all this team could ask for after losing their last game to the Zags.
With BYU's talent and its imminent under-seeding, the Cougars should be on every bracket enthusiast's radar. As the 26th best team and fifth best offensive team in the nation, if BYU gets a 12 seed, they'll be a threat to make a March Madness run.
At 83.48%, per our metrics, the Cougars have a great chance of maintaining their projected spot in the tournament, and might do a lot more than that when the games begin.
They are built to dash the dreams of single-digit seeds everywhere with their high-powered and fast-paced offense. The Cougars fall just below the 96th percentile in pace of play and get up and down the court with ease.
So, come tourney time, 5 seeds, 6 seeds and bracket grinders alike: beware of these Cougars. They're way more deserving of a tournament berth than you might think.