BYU suffered a gut-punching loss to the Pepperdine Waves on Wednesday in Malibu. Many feared this would affect BYU’s chances at the tournament. However, based on the metrics and bracket projections, not only are the Cougars still squarely in the tournament, but they hardly even moved down the metric rankings at all.
KenPom has BYU at No. 49 at the moment. Before the loss to the Waves, they were at No. 48. In ESPN’s BPI rankings, they actually have gone up six spots since last week, up to No. 32.
Needless to say, opinions around the nation are still high on Mark Pope’s squad. The bracket projections also bear that out.
No. 9 seed vs. No. 8 Louisville
Lunardi actually did not even drop BYU a seed line after the loss to Pepperdine. BYU is still in the tough 8/9 game, as they were before. BYU has not been a single-digit seed in the tournament since Jimmer Fredette’s senior year in 2011 (though most would assume last year’s squad would have gotten that honor before COVID wrecked March Madness).
Playing against Louisville would a daunting task, even if they are not as formidable as they once were. They are among the top brands in college basketball. They won the national title in 2013 and are usually in the tournament every year. The Cardinals rank below BYU in ESPN’s BPI at No. 53. It seems this would be an even matchup, which is expected in this seeding pair.
These two teams have squared off four times before, last in 2007, with BYU beating No. 6 Louisville in Las Vegas 78-76. They have split the four meetings.
No. 10 seed vs. No. 7 Minnesota
While this site does not display a full, polished bracket, they are given seeds and rankings within those seedings. It comes out to them playing the Golden Gophers of Minnesota out of the Big 10. The ranking also gives them an 83 percent chance at making the tournament.
Before Wednesday’s loss, Team Rankings had BYU as an eight-seed.
Minnesota ranks No. 49 in the BPI, just a few slots below BYU. This would be a very winnable game for the Cougars despite the double-digit seeding. The Gophers and Cougars have met just once on the hardwood, back in 1994, with Minnesota winning a close one 79-74.
No. 11 seed vs. No. 6 Purdue
Jerry Palm seems to have a low opinion of BYU compared to others (as usual, just look at his bowl projections during football season). He has BYU at an 11-seed, the lowest of the three projections here. However, this sets up an intriguing opening game in the NCAA tournament.
Matt Haarms transferred to BYU from the Boilermakers ahead of this season and it seemed to ruffle some feathers over in Lafayette, Indiana. This would be an epic matchup of Haarms against his old team and coach. It would be a chance for the 7-foot-3 center to stick it to his former school.
Haarms has played well in Cougar Blue, averaging 11.1 points per game and has racked up 62 rebounds in 29 blocks in 15 games.
Purdue is a fine team in their own right. They are 11-6 and beat a ranked Ohio State Buckeyes squad twice. BPI ranks Purdue five slots below BYU at No. 37.
These two teams have met twice, splitting the games, with the most recent win a win for Purdue in 2014. Even at an 11-seed, BYU is set up nicely for a winnable game out of the first round.