BYU put together a challenging non-conference schedule and came out of it with a resume good enough to claim a NCAA Tournament at-large bid. Not only did BYU come out with some quality wins, but three of the four losses came without Yoeli Childs — something the committee should consider when looking at BYU’s resume. For the first time since 2012, BYU finished non-conference play as a top 40 KenPom team.
Below is BYU’s current status in the most relevant rankings, non-conference resume, and preview of what BYU needs to have happen in WCC play for the Cougars to go dancing for the first time since 2015.
NET Ranking: 36; NET ranking is the new system that the committee primarily uses to determine a team’s resume, essentially replacing RPI. It places an emphasis on “Quad” wins. A Quad 1 win, for example, is a win over a Top 25 team at home, Top 50 team on a neutral floor, or Top 75 team on the road. BYU is currently 3-3 in Quad 1 games (wins over Houston, Utah State and Virginia Tech).
NET rankings really start to establish a team’s true ranking and become more reliable towards the end of January.
KenPom: 38; KenPom is generally considered the best computer rankings for college basketball. It takes into account past performance and future projections.
ESPN BPI: 33
The below rankings are KenPom, as that is more indicative of a team’s ranking this time of year over NET.
Best Wins (KenPom Rankings): #28 Houston (A), #50 Utah State (N), #60 Virginia Tech (N), #92 Nevada (H), #127 UCLA (N)
Houston and Utah State are the two wins that should hold up and look good come tournament time. Houston was on the road and looks to be an NCAA tournament team. Utah State has been without big man Neemias Queta for most of the year, but they will battle San Diego State for the MWC title. They have good neutral site wins over LSU and Florida.
The jury is still out on Virginia Tech. They were picked to finish last in the ACC, but have a win over Michigan State and road win at Clemson. BYU could really use a solid season from the Hokies to add a third quality win on the resume.
Nevada finishing third in the MWC would be a boost, and unfortunately UCLA looks like a bottom feeder in the Pac 12. The Bruins are 7-6 and have losses to Hofstra and Cal State Fullerton.
Losses: #2 Kansas (N), #20 San Diego State (H), #102 Boise State (A), #108 Utah (A)
Kansas looks like a number seed in the NCAA tournament and is a boost to BYU’s SOS. None of the other three losses are bad, but they all hurt in that each one was winnable. SDSU especially would have been nice since they are one of two undefeated teams in the nation and are the #1 team in the NET rankings. Boise State and Utah both sting, but they were both OT losses on the road versus top 125 teams — that won’t count as a “bad” loss on the resume.
WCC Teams KenPom Rankings:
6 - Gonzaga
26 - Saint Mary’s
38 - BYU
98 - San Francisco
147 - Santa Clara
168 - Pepperdine
173 - Pacific
174 - San Diego
216 - Loyola Marymount
277 - Portland
What BYU needs to do in WCC play:
BYU likely needs to shoot for at least 12-4 if they want to get an at-large NCAA tournament bid. 13-3 or better gives BYU a chance to avoid the “first four” play-in game.
Gonzaga is the #1 ranked team in the AP poll and would be a huge boost for BYU’s resume home or away. Saint Mary’s is currently 30 in NET; if they can move into the Top 25, they’ll be a quad one win if BYU beats them in Provo. Regardless, they’d be a good win on BYU’s resume. The Gaels are 13-2 on the season and have non-conference wins over Wisconsin, Utah State and Arizona State.
San Francisco is a wildcard team from whom BYU (and Saint Mary’s/Gonzaga) could use a good season. They are currently 87 in NET — if they finish in the Top 75, that would be one more opportunity for a Quad 1 win.
The rest of the WCC won’t provide a quality win but provides chances for bad losses. Portland and LMU are the two truly bad teams at the moment, with the rest of the middle portion hovering around that bad loss zone.
The realistic best case scenario would be for BYU to split Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s and lose one more to finish 13-3. Depending on how BYU’s non-conference teams perform, that could put BYU in a comfortable position come selection Sunday.
BYU kicks off WCC play Saturday night in Provo versus LMU.