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National Media Reacts to BYU Basketball’s 6-0 Start

NCAA Basketball: Texas Southern at Brigham Young Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

BYU Hoops is riding high with a #12 ranking in the AP Poll and a 6-0 start that includes wins over Utah, San Diego State and Oregon.

BYU’s success in the first two years of the Mark Pope era has no doubt carried over to this season and the lofty ranking. National pundits from around the nation are taking notice of BYU. We round up some of the takes below.

The WCC has real depth this season.

Sure, the Zags remain the class of the conference — but BYU, San Francisco and Saint Mary’s have also emerged as legitimate at-large candidates to make the 2022 NCAA Tournament. BYU improved to 6-0 late Saturday with a 75-64 win at Utah. San Francisco is 8-0 with wins over Davidson and UAB. And Saint Mary’s is 6-1 with wins over Notre Dame and Oregon (and a lone loss to Wisconsin). The byproduct of that is that the West Coast Conference currently has four top-40 KenPom teams. That’s the same number as the Big East and more than the Pac-12 and American Athletic Conference have at the moment.

Can we get a #FourBidWCC?

That obviously remains to be seen. But we spent some time discussing it on Wednesday’s episode of the Eye On College Basketball Podcast and detailed how and why it’s definitely in play. And if you haven’t been paying attention to BYU specifically, it’s time to right that wrong because Mark Pope is low-key running one of the sport’s best programs. He’s 50-15 since replacing Dave Rose after the 2018-19 season with back-to-back top-20 finishes at KenPom. He just guided the Cougars to a win at Utah for the first time since 2011.

BYU remains No. 10 in Sunday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The Cougars’ next game is Wednesday at Utah Valley, otherwise known as the place where Pope coached for four seasons before leaving for BYU.

BYU’s earlier wins over San Diego State and Oregon have lost some of their luster, as the Aztecs and Ducks haven’t quite looked as good as expected thus far. But the Cougars continue to look impressive, including in Saturday’s 11-point win at in-state rival Utah. Alex Barcello is excelling, but the offseason addition of Milwaukee transfer Te’Jon Lucas has been crucial to BYU’s hot start. Lucas was a part-time starter at Illinois to begin his career, then he really established himself during two seasons at Milwaukee. But his arrival in Provo has given Mark Pope a bona fide playmaker at the point of attack and allowed Barcello to focus more on scoring and shooting. Lucas had 18 points in both games last week, and he has had 30 assists to just 10 turnovers on the season. He also is shooting better than 46% from 3-point range, which is a huge rise from last season’s 27.5% (although it could be the result of a small sample size).

The Cougars are playing like a top-10 team right now. They’re cruising past each challenge, regardless of venue.

  • Jon Rothstein has BYU at 10 in his “Rothstein 45” and describes BYU as “Answering every challenge.”
  • Jeff Goodman has BYU 8th in his Top 25.