There is no shame in losing to the undefeated, No. 1-ranked team in the country. BYU lost to 19-0, No. 1 Gonzaga 82-71 on Monday but showed signs of competing with clearly the best team in the country at the moment.
For that reason, despite dropping to 15-5, BYU is still favored by most bracketologists to comfortably make the NCAA Tournament. BYU has not played an NCAA Tournament game since 2015. Of course, last season’s squad would have made some serious noise in the tournament had it not been for the pandemic shutting down March Madness. This year, it looks like they will finally get that chance.
Let’s take a look at a few projections from major national sources.
No. 9 seed vs. No. 8 Clemson
Lunardi is still high on BYU’s chances of being a single-digit seed. The 8/9 matchup is a tough one because typically the two teams are very evenly matched and the winner must very likely face the No. 1 seed of the region. Either way, it would be a welcome sight for BYU to be a single-digit seed, which they have not done since Jimmer Fredette’s senior year in 2011.
BPI ranks Clemson at No. 48 compared to BYU’s ranking of 32nd. They have a 12-5 record and would pose a tough test out of the ACC.
No. 9 seed vs. No. 8 UCLA
Like Lunardi, Palm puts BYU in that dreaded 8/9 game but with a fellow western team in UCLA. Of course, UCLA is a storied program, with 11 national titles, most of them coming under legendary coach John Wooden.
Those days are long gone but UCLA is starting to become a solid program once more. They sit at 13-5 and 50th in the BPI. The Cougars and Bruins have met 22 games, splitting the matchups. The Cougars won their most recent matchup in 2019.
No. 7 seed vs. No. 10 Loyola-Chicago
Team Rankings thinks very highly of BYU, notching them as a No. 7 seed while also giving them a 95 percent chance at making the tournament. In this scenario, they are pitted against Loyola-Chicago. That school should sound familiar. They were the captivating Cinderella story of the 2018 tournament, making it all the way to the Final Four.
These two storied schools have played each other three times but not since way back in 1968.