BYU’s inaugural Big 12 season is off to a good start with a blowout win over Houston Christian in the season opener and win over #17 San Diego State Friday night. That SDSU win should be a Quad 1 or Quad 2 win come tournament time.
BYU has 11 more non-conference games before embarking on a 18-game conference schedule come January. 8 of those games are ones BYU should win and won’t move the needle in terms of resume, and 3 have a chance to enhance BYU’s resume.
Coming into the season, my baseline for BYU was to aim for 11-2 in non-conference play and 7-11 in conference to give themselves a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. The win over SDSU allows BYU to get greedy in non-league play. BYU can’t overlook any team — we saw them lose to South Dakota and UVU last season — but the schedule sets up that I think 12-1 is a real possibility heading into January.
I breakdown the remaining schedule into resume and non-resume builders — all rankings are from KenPom and are out of 362 D1 teams.
SE Louisiana, 11/15 — 212
Morgan State, 11/18 — 342
Fresno State, 12/1 (SLC) — 113
Evansville, 12/5 — 317
Denver, 12/13 — 282
Georgia State, 12/16 — 194
Bellarmine, 12/22 — 237
Wyoming, 12/30 — 211
Fresno State could be a quad two game if they are a top 100 in the NET, but I don’t see it. They are coming off a loss to Kent State and were 11-20 last season. Wyoming is coming off a miserable 9-22 season, but brought in a lot of new pieces and could easily exceed expectations. They could turn into a tricky team depending on how they gel these next 6 weeks.
Arizona State, 11/23 (Vegas) — 85
NC State or Vanderbilt, 11/24 (Vegas)
at Utah, 12/9 — 36
I know we like to clown on Utah and their feeble home attendance, but they are a solid hoops squad. I’m not sure how good their guard line will be, but Branden Carlson is one of the best bigs in college basketball. If there’s one game Utah fans may show up for basketball, it probably is BYU. That won’t be an easy game.
Arizona State brought in some nice transfers, but they look like a work in progress to start the season. They got handled by Mississippi State — who was without Tolu Smith and other key pieces — and weren’t particularly impressive in a 63-52 win over Texas Southern. They made the NCAA Tournament and could absolutely beat BYU, but BYU should be favored in this one.
BYU’s game the next day would be versus NC State or Vanderbilt. NC State is the better opponent of the two. NC State is 56 in KenPom while Vandy is 118 after an ugly home loss to Presbyterian.
BYU could drop 3 or 4 games if they’re not careful, but they look improved over last season and have a real opportunity to give themselves some momentum heading into league play if they play up to their ability.