The end goal in college basketball is to just get to the NCAA tournament. Once you are there, anything can happen, but first, the task is qualifying for a spot.
BYU has some good wins on their resume in this 2020-2021 season and they notched another with their big win over Saint Mary’s in Moraga Thursday night, a place BYU had only won one other time since the 1950s.
The nation is taking notice of Mark Pope’s squad. Here are a few projections as far as where BYU stands in the world of Bracketology.
No. 12 seed vs. No. 12 Stanford
Lunardi has BYU playing one of those dreaded “First Four” games, which are normally in Dayton. In his “last four in” list, BYU is quite literally the last team in. According to him, BYU is the last team currently in the tournament picture and most squarely on the bubble.
The winner of the play-in game in Lunardi’s bracket would play the No. 5 seed Oregon. This would be an attractive all-west coast matchup.
The Cougars have played Stanford three times since moving to the WCC, going 2-1, most recently losing on the road in the NIT in 2018.
Stanford currently sits at 8-4 and ranked No. 45 in the KenPom rankings, which has BYU currently at No. 56.
If BYU is lucky enough to win that game, they would draw the Ducks who are currently ranked No. 22 in the AP poll.
No. 10 seed vs. No. 7 UCONN
Drawing UCONN in the first round would certainly be tough. The Huskies have a tradition of greatness in the tournament, with five Final Four appearances and four national titles. These two teams have met just once, back in 2003, which was a victory for UCONN.
The Huskies are ranked No. 25 in the AP poll and sit at 7-1 in their return to the Big East conference. Many BYU fans look at UCONN and think of the 2011 NCAA tourney when the Huskies won it all while BYU was bounced in the Sweet 16 without Brandon Davies to aid Jimmer Fredette. UCONN won it all as a three seed.
No. 10 seed vs. No. 7 Oklahoma State
TeamRankings gives BYU an 82% chance at making the tournament after their win over Saint Mary’s with a projected record of 20-7. The Cowboys currently rank No. 33 via the KenPom rankings with road win over ranked Texas Tech.
These two teams have squared off seven times but not since 2003, when BYU won 76-71, beating a No. 25 ranked Oklahoma State squad.
It’s pretty clear that BYU is right around a 10-12 seed at the moment. BYU should do everything in their control to avoid the First Four round, however. The Cougars need to hold serve against WCC opponents not named Gonzaga to maintain their status as a tourney team.