BYU is 1-5 against the RPI Top 50. This is something that has been run through the mill over the past week or so, and it's the biggest argument against the Cougars' at-large case for an NCAA tournament bid. I personally felt, and it has held true, that the three-point loss to Baylor was the single-biggest loss of the season. But over time, some other BYU opponents have put together some solid seasons and it leads us to this: Keep your eyes on Oregon and Nevada.
It seems like a lifetime ago, but BYU has a 79-65 "neutral" court win over Oregon. And you see, updated RPI from Jerry Palm (collegerpi.com, it's a subscription-only thing, but thanks to Twitter, it was revealed unto me) now has Oregon at 48. RealTimeRPI has Oregon at ... 50. You know what that means? BYU is now 2-5 against the RPI Top 50! For now, at least.
The boys from Reno have put together a season as well. In fact, after BYU's 76-55 dismantling of Nevada in Chicago, the Wolf Pack ripped off 16-straight wins. At 23-5, Nevada checks in on RealTimeRPI at 56. Two final regular-season wins and a conference tourney title (which would likely include two wins over solid New Mexico State) could very well push Nevada up to 50 or higher.
While it seems a little silly, at the end of the day, the selection committee looks at numbers like this, and especially this. Record versus the top 50 teams is a big factor. If Oregon and Nevada can give BYU some help, that record versus the top 50 would jump to 3-5. At that point, a loss to Gonzaga in the WCC tournament semifinals would make BYU 3-6, which isn't great, but is much, much better than the looming prospect of 1-6, which in my opinion would have BYU in the NIT.
If a win over Gonzaga can be combined with help from Oregon and Nevada, you're looking at 4-5 versus the RPI top 50. At that point, I'd consider BYU virtually a lock for an at-large bid, even if a loss to Saint Mary's pushed that record to 4-6.
(And coincidentally, BYU checks in on RealTimeRPI at 49. Help from other teams will boost BYU's RPI number and make it harder to exclude the Cougars.)
So keep your eyes in Eugene and Reno. We are all Ducks and Wolves ... Wolf Packs? ... Nevada fans.