We are just over a week out until Selection Sunday (March 13) and BYU is a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Most projections have BYU as a 7 or 8 seed, and anywhere between 6-10 seems realistic at this point depending on how things shake out. Below I look at what would need to happen for BYU to land at the various seeding positions.
Best Case Scenario: 6 seed, maaaaaybe a 5 seed
BYU has up to two games left — the WCC semifinals and Finals. BYU will face either Santa Clara, Pacific or Pepperdine in the semis Monday night and the winner is all but guaranteed to play Gonzaga in the championship. Two slow starts plagued BYU in both matchups this year versus Gonzaga, but BYU played Gonzaga pretty tough in the 11-point loss in Provo. Taking down the Zags is a monumental task, but an upset there would put BYU in a great spot for seeding. A 6 seed seems like a likely bet in that scenario and maybe even a 5 seed depending on what else happens with other teams. BYU would likely be top 15 in both KenPom and NET with a win over Gonzaga, so a 5 seed wouldn’t be totally out of the question. If BYU were to get a 5-6 seed the Sweet 16 becomes a legitimate possibility. Without a win over Gonzaga a 7 seed seems like BYU’s ceiling, although a 6 seed would have a slight possibility if chaos abounds the next week plus.
Most Likely Scenario: 7-9 Seed
BYU’s semifinal game likely will be a Quad 3 game no matter who they play. That won’t do much on its own to move BYU up the seed line but a win would probably keep BYU at a 7-8 seed. BYU will likely be a double-digit favorite to whomever they play and should come out with a win. A loss to one of the three teams wouldn’t be terrible, but it would be BYU’s first Quad 3 loss and likely knock BYU down to a 9 or 10 seed. A 10 seed is arguably better than a 9, which brings us to our next scenario.
Worst Case Scenario: 10-11 Seed
A 10 seed really feels like the floor for BYU. If BYU were to get handled in the semis and then teams like SDSU, Utah State, and St John’s all fell apart down then stretch, then that would ding BYU’s resume and a 11 seed could be in play. The question comes into play if a 8-9 seed or 10 seed is better. A 8-9 seed gives BYU a better chance to advance one round, but a 10 seed gives better odds to advance to the Sweet 16. The below chart gives the odds of advancing at each seed going back to the beginning of the modern bracket era.
Teams to Root For: San Diego State, St John’s, Utah State, Weber State
SDSU and USU are sure fire Quad One wins and a run by both of them in the MWC tourney would be nice for BYU. St John’s is currently 69 in NET and would enter Quad One win territory if they crack the top 50. That isn’t super realistic, but they’ll have a chance to rack up some quality wins in the Big East tournament.
Weber State is having a nice year and ranked 107 in NET. If they can crack the top 100 then they would be a Quad 2 win for BYU. Winning the Big Sky tournament would probably get them in that Territory.
Other teams you should probably root for are USC and Boise State, two teams BYU lost to. Boise State could play SDSU or USU in the MWC tourney, and in that case I would cheer against the Broncos — it’s usually better to make your good wins look better than make your “good” losses a little less bad. BYU is right around the same seed positioning as USC, but USC winning will strengthen BYU’s metrics.
Prediction: 7 seed
If BYU gets to the WCC semifinals and puts up a fight versus Gonzaga then I like BYU to grab a 7 seed. The San Diego State road win is looking really nice and would fortify BYU as a 7 seed if the Aztecs can reach the MWC finals. If BYU takes care of business before Gonzaga then I predict BYU will be a 7 seed in the NCAA tournament, although a 8 seed would not be surprising.