The Cougars were revealed as a 7-seed on Sunday afternoon and will play the Florida Gators (21-12 overall, 9-7 conference) on Thursday, March 18th in Oklahoma City. BYU was selected to the West Region, which they had hoped for, but fell a number of spots due to their most recent losses to New Mexico (in Provo) and UNLV in the MWC Tournament. BYU had been projected as high as a 3 seed during regular season conference play but that was out of the question after losing to the Lobos for a second time in late February.
Still, BYU had hoped to secure at least a 4-seed in the MWC Tournament but had that hope taken away in the final minute on Friday night in Las Vegas. Of course, the Rebels' lackluster performance on Saturday may not have helped the Cougars much either - though it did help the MWC by making San Diego State a Tournament lock.
But on Saturday and even Sunday morning, BYU fans held out hope for a 5-seed or even a 6. Yet, after three consecutive seasons of attaining an 8-seed for the Big Dance, the Cougars still only managed to improve one spot.
Of course, there are still some positives to be seen from BYU's perspective so let's break some of them down:
- Should the Cougars beat the Gators and (assuming) the Wildcats, they'd come to Salt Lake City for the Sweet 16.
- Had they been a 6 seed in the West, rather than a 7, they'd be playing an excellent Minnesota (11-seed) team - in relatively close Milwaukee.
- They could have drawn Georgia Tech (10-seed in the Midwest), who would have abused the Cougars inside. Florida, whose two leading scorers are both under 6'2", is a much better match-up for BYU.
- Florida has only won two of their last five games, with their wins coming against Georgia and Auburn, both of whom finished at the bottom of the SEC.
- Like the Cougars, Florida is an average rebounding team, averaging 37 rebounds per game. The Gators also block fewer shots than the Cougars (3.6 to 2.7).
- The Gators aren't nearly as skilled offensively as the Cougars according to basic stats, with a true shooting percentage of 52.8% (163rd in the nation) compared to BYU's 59.7% (2nd in the country), and an inferior assist/turnover ration (48th overall to the Cougars' 14th overall).
- Should the Cougars beat the Gators, they'd play Kansas State in Oklahoma City. That's a mere 5 hour drive for Wildcat fans making it nearly a non-neutral site.
- From Alligator Army:
"I am very excited to see what Chandler Parsons and Kenny Boynton do in NCAA play. Also, take a look at the heights of the Cougars. Their two big guys are not contributors, and their top four scorers are all under 6-foot-6. Florida is at their best playing smaller teams. As a Gator fan, you have to hope Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus can nut up and play like true big men inside."
More significant tournament match-ups highlighted after the jump...
5 Butler 12 UTEP (in San Jose, 3/18)
6 Tennessee vs. 11 San Diego State (in Providence, 3/18)
8 UNLV vs. 9 Northern Iowa (in Oklahoma City, 3/18)
3 New Mexico vs. 14 Montana (in San Jose, 3/18)
5 Texas A & M vs. 12 Utah State (in Spokane, 3/19)