So, it's come to this. With BYU's firm dismissal from the WCC tournament at the hands of Gonzaga, the Cougars were placed back on the bubble and are left to sweat out an at-large bid. The answer won't come until Sunday.
As of now, BYU looks okay. Not good, but okay. But bracketologists have been commenting on Twitter that oft times, teams with at-large hopes from conferences who finish their tournaments a week before Selection Sunday (like the WCC) see their hopes fade as other teams' wins push the waiting teams down. With all this said, here is a rooting guide for you, the BYU fan on the bubble.
As I mentioned, right now the Cougars look okay. According to The Bracket Project, which matrixes 79 predicted brackets into one place, BYU appears in 74 of 79 brackets, and averages an 11.2 seed - meaning BYU is floating somewhere around the 11- or 12-line, right now just above a play-in game.
Past opponents can help. Like we detailed last week, Nevada and Oregon can really help BYU. Nevada especially, as Oregon's situation could get sticky. First, Nevada. The Pack still check in the Top 50 at 46. If they win out, they will be 28-5 and will definitely stay in the Top 50, giving BYU a record of 2-6 versus RPI Top 50. The Nevada win also becomes a win over a conference champion and a tournament team.
As for Oregon ... well, that's dicey. You want Oregon to win to remain in the Top 50 (currently 49) to bring that vs. Top 50 record up to 3-6. But there is some possibility Oregon winning could turn the Pac-12 from a two- to a three-bid league. It's a mess over there on the coast. Cal was a tournament lock and the runaway favorite, then the Bears lost to Colorado and Stanford to end the season. Washington has claim to the 1-seed, Cal is 2, Oregon is 3. This means that the team pundits like from the Pac-12 the most, meaning the team with the highest likelihood of an at-large bid (Cal) is on the same side of the bracket as Oregon.
So beating Cal could move Oregon toward a bid, but may not knock Cal out of one. Washington has a terrible resume, but in a scenario where Oregon plays Washington in the Pac-12 title game, perhaps UW and Cal get a bid, and Oregon thieves one as well.
So if we're painting picture-perfect scenarios, perhaps the scenario is Washington gets upset early in the tournament (if not its first game, even a semifinal loss to Arizona might do it), while Oregon advances to the title game. Anything other than that is a mess, and I really can't tell you what to root for.
So ... go Nevada, and perhaps Oregon and the Pac-12 is convoluted enough to not waste your time on.
ONE-BID LEAGUES ABOUT WHICH YOU NEED NOT WORRY
If you like upsets in the NCAA tournament, you want to root for chalk in these conference tournaments to heighten the quality of the Big Dance. But outcomes will not affect BYU - these conferences are getting one bid no matter who wins.
Atlantic Sun (1-seed Belmont already won it)
Big South (1-seed UNC-Asheville already won it)
Horizon League (Oh, how you've fallen)
CONFERENCES TO WATCH
(in no particular order ... except alphabetical)
In order for BYU to dance, it won't need every single break listed below. Half of the breaks below will probably do it, maybe not even that many. This is just a full list of where the bubble teams are. If some of this happens, BYU looks to be on the right side of the bubble. If it all happens, BYU is an absolute lock.
Right now the ACC is trending for four bids, but Miami and NC State are lurking on the bubble. The aforementioned Bracket Matrix has Miami in the First Four Out, while NC State is ninth out. So root against Miami and NC State.
Saint Louis has been a solid surprise in the A-10 this year (this means Majerus in the tournament!), and Temple is a lock as well. Xavier is sitting close to the bubble but in, and Dayton is a Next Four Out team. If Xavier wins some games in the A-10 tourney and works into the tournament, it may not hurt BYU too bad. If Dayton does, that hurts. We definitely want to see Dayton excused early, and if Xavier can do it, too, even better.
South Florida is the team to watch there and upon which to wish losses. (Does all this loss-wishing make us bad Mormons?) USF plays ugly basketball. If you didn't like Bama/LSU football, root for the Bulls to stay out of the dance as well. Seton Hall is also a team near the bubble.
I would tell you to root against Northwestern but .... no. I can't do that.
As evidenced by the Bracket Matrix, Texas is in 64 of 79 brackets, mostly falling in the play-in game. Texas losses help.
Root for Long Beach State to win the Big West tournament.
Memphis winning the C-USA tournament would be a good thing.
Harvard has been the class of the Ivy League. A 14-2 non-conference mark has helped the Crimson to an RPI of 36. One problem: a few league slip-ups has a one-game playoff with Penn looming. The Ivy League has no conference tournament, and head-to-head ties for the conference title are broken in a one-game playoff. If Penn beats Princeton tomorrow, the showdown is on. Harvard could very likely get an at-large bid if Penn wins (can you imagine a two-bid Ivy League?!?!), so you'll want to root for Harvard making amends for the one-game playoff it lost last year.
You want Tennessee and Ole Miss to lose. Maybe even Mississippi State.
And finally, the WAC. Not only does Nevada winning out help the RPI case for BYU, it removes all doubt in Nevada's at-large case. The Wolf Pack are the only WAC team in the hunt for an at-large. If New Mexico State, 0-2 against Nevada this year, beats them in the WAC title game, we're sweating an at-large bid from Nevada.
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Hopefully all this helps. Happy anti-rooting, Cougar fans!