Speculation was that BYU would be part of the Last Four In, in some projections BYU was THE absolute last team in the tournament. Everyone had assumed and grew to expect a First Four play-in game in Dayton. Not gonna lie, I was absolutely expecting it. I knew once BYU beat San Francisco that BYU was going to the NCAA tournament. The loss to Gonzaga didn't hurt our chances, BUT the fact that Kyle Collinsworth went down for the remainder of the season meant every BYU fan didn't know if BYU was getting in. As big of an asset as Collinsworth is, BYU was down about 20 points when he got injured. BYU pulled within 10 without him on the floor. Collinsworth is a big loss for obvious reasons, but BYU is capable to do well without him, evidenced by the end of the WCC championship game.
Sure enough, Selection Sunday turned out to be quite the treat for BYU. BYU landed a 10 seed and will have a rematch against 7th seeded Oregon on Thursday March 20th at 1:10PM MTD on TRU TV. Coach Rose has taken BYU to the NCAA tournament seven times out of his nine years at the helm, or 78% of the time. His first year as Head Coach BYU went to the NIT, and last year, the 2012-2013 season the NIT Semi-finals. Coach Rose has yet to post a season as Head Coach below 20 wins. 20+ 9 years in a row is remarkable, 6 of those 8 seasons winning 25+ games, 7 of 9 if BYU wins two more games this season. For a breakdown on the Cougars seeding, click here.
How BYU got here:
BYU started the season 8-7. Fans were outraged and were throwing in the towel on the season. Coach Rose then made a bold decision. His decision was to sit Carlino and start Halford. That move has proven to be the biggest difference in BYU's turnaround. BYU went on to win five straight after that, before losing two straight. BYU sat at 13-9 and fans were wondering if benching Carlino was the right move. BYU's chances seemed bleak to not only miss out on the Dance, but possibly even miss out on the NIT. Rose held strong to his decision to bring Carlino off the bench and BYU won 10 of their next 12 games, making it to the WCC championship game and getting a 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. For more on this decision, check out the VTF article here.
BYU's defense did start to show visible improvement against St. Mary's, 13 games after Carlino started coming off the bench. BYU was 18-10 at the time, and then something sparked BYU's defense. Anson Winder emerged as a threat on both ends of the floor to help spark BYU to finish the season strong. Without Tom Holmoe scheduling good teams for their non-conference schedule, there's no way BYU gets in the tournament. 23 wins helps too. SMU won 23 games, but their strength of schedule was very poor so instead of dancing, they're a 1 seed in the NIT. 23 wins with a good strength of schedule deserved a bid, and it did for BYU. A 10 seed? Maybe a tiny bit merciful, but regardless, the best teams win in the tourney.
How do you feel about BYU being a 10 seed and playing a known opponent in Oregon?
Do you feel the Selection Committee was too merciful to BYU?
If you had to choose one, what was the biggest reason BYU turned their season around?