Until a cold winters evening on December 18th, it appeared BYU had let every significant opportunity to boost its NCAA Tournament resume slip through its hands. Whether it be the Cougars' two point loss to undefeated Iowa State, a late game melt down against Wichita State, or even their latest debacle against the team up north. It appeared when BYU has had a chance to make a statement they have always come up short.
This past Wednesday night that all changed, but not due to anything the Cougars did that night. Two of BYU's early season victims rose up and beat nationally ranked opponents. It started when Texas (10-1) strolled in to the home of North Carolina and found a way to beat the 14th-ranked Tar Heels. The Longhorns have proven to be much better than expected with their lone loss coming against, you guessed it, BYU. The Longhorns have another opportunity to boost the resume of BYU when they take on 5th-ranked Michigan State on Saturday afternoon. If BYU and Texas can both win Saturday, this could prove to be the best week for BYU in a number of years.
As if the Texas victory wasn't enough to help Cougar nation come to a better understanding of how difficult this early season schedule has been for BYU, directly after the Texas victory an even more unlikely event occurred. That Stanford team that BYU went around, over, and through early in the season found a way to beat the 10th-ranked Huskies of UConn in Hartford, Connecticut.
These two wins resulted in Texas and Stanford both moving in to the top 50 RPI rankings and improved BYU's record against top 50 RPI teams to 2-3 with only one of those games coming in the friendly confines of the Marriott Center. Per ESPN.com, BYU now has the #1 ranked strength of schedule in the country. They will only solidify that with a game against the undefeated Oregon Ducks this weekend. I for one am amazed at the schedule BYU put together this season and I firmly believe this schedule will benefit them as they move in to conference play. With a solid RPI and some great wins away from home, BYU is in prime position to have a great conference season and turn this RPI in to a very surprising seed in the NCAA Tournament.
This is a team that has taken on the best in the country and is still standing. They are young and will only improve. Do not give up on this team, because if you do, come March you may regret your actions.