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BYU Basketball to take on no. 16 Saint Mary’s Thursday

A big game for BYU Basketball Thursday just got bigger.

NCAA Basketball: Sacramento State at St. Mary's D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

After losing to the Saint Mary’s Gaels in overtime in Provo a little less than a month ago, the BYU Cougars will have a chance for some sweet, sweet revenge in Moraga on Thursday. And while the Cougars are playing some of their best basketball, on a four-game winning streak in conference play, the Gaels are coming off of a pretty big win themselves.

Before Saint Mary’s barely pulled off a win against Pacific on Saturday, they had a big time victory against Gonzaga in the McCarthey Athletic Center. Saint Mary’s managed the huge upset in Spokane, beating the Zags, 74-71 on Thursday. AP Poll voters thought the win was so big, in fact, that the Gaels went from being unranked to being no. 16 in the latest AP Poll.

Many were expecting the Gaels to crack the AP Top 25 after the impressive win over the then no. 13 Zags, but 16 is probably a bit higher than most were expecting. While the spot may be high, it’s certainly not undeserved. The Gaels have quietly been having a very good season. They sit at 18-2 on the year and are the only undefeated team in the WCC, at 8-0. Saint Mary’s only losses came back to back against Washington State then Georgia. This puts them on a 14-game winning streak. They last lost on Nov. 26.

This no. 16 ranking presents a very good opportunity for the Cougars, who are certainly in need of all the quality wins that they can get, if any hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament are to remain. The Cougs are 0-1 against ranked teams this year, falling short in their only opportunity against then-ranked no. 25 Alabama. The Cougs have yet to face the Zags — the first chance for that will come on Feb. 3.

Saint Mary’s remains no. 16 in KenPom rankings as well. Gonzaga is at no. 7 in KenPom, and dropped just two spots in the AP Poll, to no. 15. Get an update on all of the WCC happenings of the past week, here. ESPN’s FPI gives BYU just a 17 percent chance to win this week.

BYU plays Saint Mary’s at 8 p.m. MST on Thursday. The game will be on ESPN2. What do you think the odds of an upset are? Weigh in below.