After BYU’s come-from-behind road victory over San Francisco, the Cougars sit at 15-4 and in a comfortable position to make the NCAA Tournament field. The win over USF, who was 15-2 before the BYU loss, moved BYU up 4 spots to 26 in NET and 23 in KenPom.
The NET Rankings are the “primary sorting tool” the NCAA Tournament committee uses to analyze teams’ resumes. It essentially replaces the RPI and is a better measuring stick since it factors in where the game was played. BYU’s 26 NET ranking is good, but the ranking itself is fairly meaningless. The more important factor is who you beat and where those teams fall in the NET ranks. The committee categorizes games into four “quadrants”, hence why it is called a sorting tool.
- Quad One: Home game versus Top 30 team, Neutral versus top 50, Away versus Top 75
- Quad Two: Home versus 31-75, Neutral versus 51-100, Away versus 76-135
- Quad Three: Home versus 76-160, Neutral versus 101-200, Away versus 136-240
- Quad Four: Home versus 161+, Neutral versus 201+, Away versus 241+
BYU scheduled aggressively in non-conference to load up on Quad One and Quad Two games, and BYU is reaping the benefits. BYU is only 1-1 in Quad one games — win at USF at loss at Gonzaga — but 6-3 in Quad Two games. The six Quad Two victories are the most in the nation. The committee considers Quad One and Quad Two games “quality wins”, so BYU is sitting very nicely there.
BYU Quad Two wins
- San Diego State (H)
- Oregon (N)
- Utah (A)
- Missouri State (A)
- Utah State (H)
- Saint Mary’s (H)
Liberty is currently 114 in NET, so if they sneak into the Top 100 they would be another Quad Two win for BYU. BYU’s 32-point win over Oregon had lost some luster, but their two road wins over the weekend at #3 UCLA and #5 USC propelled them from 91 to 58 in NET. That is suddenly looking like the great win we expected when BYU dump trucked the Ducks, and if Oregon jumps into the top 50 it becomes a Quad One win.
Remaining WCC Slate
BYU has already played three of its toughest WCC games — road games at Gonzaga and USF and the the home game versus Saint Mary’s. BYU has at least 11 games remaining and 12 if the game at Portland is rescheduled. 7 of the remaining 12 are Quad 4 games, which would all be bad losses. At LMU is a Quad three game, which wouldn’t be a very good loss. Fortunately Mark Pope has never lost a Quad 3 or 4 game, so if BYU avoids landmines they will be playing for seeding from this point forward. BYU can realistically afford a couple bad losses, but they would be sweating come selection Sunday if they lose some games that they shouldn’t.
Gonzaga and at Saint Mary’s are guaranteed Quad One games, and home versus USF and at Santa Clara are borderline Quad One games. USF is 36 in NET and would need to crack the top 30 to become a Quad One game at home. Santa Clara is 89 and would need to crack the Top 75 to become a road Quad One game. Regardless, those are the four regular season games where BYU can polish and improve its resume.
What BYU Should Root For
The WCC has 4 teams in position for NCAA Tournament bids, so BYU should root for USF and Saint Mary’s to win all their non-top-of-the-league games. BYU obviously wants its non-conference opponents to do well, but I have my eye on a few particularly.
- Oregon — ranked 58; chance to jump to top 50 in NET and become a Quad One win
- Missouri State — ranked 87; chance to jump to top 75 in NET and become a Quad One win
- San Diego State — ranked 45; chance to jump to top 30 in NET and become a Quad One win
- Liberty — ranked 114; chance to jump to top 100 in NET and become a Quad Two win
- UVU — ranked 107; need to stay in top 135 to remain as a Quad Two loss
Overall, BYU is in a very good spot to make the NCAA Tournament. If BYU loses 0 or 1 of the remaining Quad 3 and 4 games and splits the four remaining Quad 1 and 2 games, I think a 10 seed is the floor in the NCAA Tournament.