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BYU Bracketology

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In a matchup as magnificent as any the Earth has seen since Hades vs. Zeus, the University of Wyoming Cowboys and Air Force Academy Falcons will open MWC Tournament play in Las Vegas on Wednesday afternoon. But before that epic, let's breakdown where your No. 14 BYU Cougars stand as projected by The Fates, err, bracketologists.

Best-Case Scenario:

4 BYU vs. 13 Kent State - at San Jose (WEST REGION) (See Bracket Project)

How can it happen? - 

Reaching the MWC Tournament Championship game by beating TCU and UNLV on their home floor - something the Cougars have failed to accomplish during the Dave Rose era.  Now, if that were to happen, the Cougars would love to see the Aztecs upset the Lobos in the Semi-Final round and for Jimmer Fredette to be 100% healthy or close to it.  If either of those are the case (or both), then BYU will have a great chance of attaining a 4-seed. 

And, in case you've been ice fishing in Irkutsk the past two months, BYU wants a 4-seed in the West Region - with an opportunity to play in Salt Lake City in the Sweet 16.  Who is Kent State? Well, the Golden Flashes of Kent, Ohio have a 23-8 overall record and won the MAC.  Their best wins have been over UAB, Wofford, and Akron

Most Likely:

5 BYU vs. 12 Seton Hall - at San Jose (EAST REGION) (See Blogging the Bracket)

4 BYU vs. 13 Illinois - at San Jose (EAST REGION) (See ESPN)

How can it happen? - 

The projected Semi-Final game between BYU and UNLV will probably have a 4-seed at stake for the Cougars.  Should they lose to the Rebels they'll probably fall to a 5 or even a 6 seed.  Of course, despite BYU's loss to UNLV on February 6th at the Thomas & Mack Center, there's no reason to think the Cougars can't finally beat Lon Kruger's club in Sin City.  BYU's most athletic players - Abouo, Davies, Emery and Loyd - are all playing well of late, and that bodes well for the Cougars in matching up against Tre'von Willis and Co.

The ESPN projection seems fair assuming a Cougar win against UNLV.  And while BYU wouldn't be ecstatic about drawing a team like the 18-13 Fighting Illini, there are much worse scenarios.  Illinois has beaten Michigan State, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Wisconsin and Wofford this season - but have also lost three in a row to finish conference play.  They also lost to the Utes in Las Vegas in November.  Needless to say it's been an inconsistent season for Bruce Weber's team.  Another interesting note about playing Illinois is that you'd likely see Michael Jordan in attendance as his son Jeff is a back-up point guard for the Illini.

As for earning a 5 seed, it would be the best the Cougars have merited since 1988 (4-seed) and the last time BYU was seeded anything higher than 8 they won a tournament game.  The other aspect in the Cougars' favor here is that they'd have a major home-court advantage in San Jose over schools like Illinois and Seton Hall.

What is Seton Hall like this year?  Why haven't you heard much buzz about their squad this season?  Well, maybe because they finished the Big East schedule tied for 9th in the conference.  (That's right, the Big East should have at least nine teams in the NCAA Tournament - and that's not including UCONN.)  The Seton Hall Pirates are currently 18-11 and will probably be 19-12 headed into the tourney.  They have beaten Pitt and Louisville this season.  The Pirates may have 11 losses - but none of them are considered "bad losses."

Worst Thing to Happen Since Achilles' Heel aka Jimmer's Mono:

6 BYU vs 11 St. Mary's - at San Jose (EAST REGION) (See Walter Football)

6 BYU vs. 11 Georgia Tech - at San Jose (WEST REGION) (See The Hoops Report)

6 BYU vs. 11 Florida - at Providence (EAST REGION) (See CNNSI, MSNBC, Bracketology 101)

How can it happen? - 

A loss in the Semi-Final round to UNLV and perhaps some bad luck. Frankly, all of the above scenarios are a bit scary.  Actually, I think playing St. Mary's in San Jose (an hour drive from the Gaels' campus in Moraga) is downright terrifying.  Almost as terrifying as playing Georgia Tech and seeing Chris Miles and Noah Hartsock matched up against Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors.  Yuck.