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Bubble Watch Rooting Guide: Where BYU can get NCAA Tournament help

BYU's campaign is done and Selection Sunday awaits. Here is who to root for (and against) in the mean time.

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BYU's resume is built. A top-40 RPI, an excellent non-conference strength of schedule, and a road win against the RPI #8 team bode well for the Cougars.

But now, we wait. You can still exercise your sportsing muscles by rooting for help around the 2015 tournament bubble, however. There are several conference tournaments this week. Here's what you need to know.

Root For Chalk

BYU needs an absence of "bid thieves" in the remaining conference tournaments. Bid thievery occurs when a conference has one or more absolute locks to make it into the NCAA tournament. When such a team wins their conference tournament, all is right with the world and status quo reigns. If a team other than a lock springs some upsets and thefts an autobid, the locks still get in too -- subtracting one at-large bid from the pool of available bids.

So here are the favorites for which to root in the remaining conference tournaments. Tournament titles from any of these teams helps/doesn't hurt BYU:

American: SMU or Cincinnati
Atlantic 10: VCU, Dayton, or Davidson
Mountain West: San Diego State, Boise State, Colorado State
Pac 12: Arizona, Utah, Oregon
SEC: Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia

Root Against Other Bubblers

BYU could use losses from other bubble teams. At the very least, we do not want these teams winning a tournament. The best-case scenario is these teams lose their first games their respective conference tournaments. Some of these teams are projected behind BYU, in which case losses would help keep the Cougars buoyed up as "in." Some are projected ahead, in which case early losses could help BYU climb safely up out of the "last four in" group.

American: Temple, Tulsa
Atlantic 10: Richmond
ACC: Miami
Big 12: Okahoma State, Texas
Big East: Xavier
Big Ten: Indiana, Illinois
Pac 12: UCLA
SEC: Ole Miss, LSU, Texas A&M
C-USA: Old Dominion

Root For BYU Opponents

Rooting for former opponents is tricky. Picking up extra wins could give small bumps to BYU's RPI profile, but if one springs a good enough upset it could help open the door for a bid thief. But in general, here are opponents who could help BYU by winning a few.

Utah: Ideally, the Utes win the Pac-12 tournament.
Utah State: I don't think we want Utah State winning the MWC tournament unless it bumps Colorado State out of an at-large bid. But a first-round win over Wyoming and even an upset over Boise State would be awesome, as long as SDSU or CSU still wins the thing. USU represents a big road win for BYU.
Weber State: Weber is a talented but inexperienced and injury-riddled team. The Wildcats represent BYU's second-to-worst RPI non-conference game. There is no bid-thief scenario in the Big Sky, so the ultimate ideal is Weber State posts three upsets and qualifies for the NCAA tournament, giving BYU a true road win against a tournament team. Otherwise, picking up wins might help marginally.
Long Beach State / Hawaii: The Big West is another one-bid league, so same situation as Weber State: Ideally, one of these teams wins the Big West. They are the 4 and 5 seeds, however, so they face off in the first round, cutting down the available number of wins from the pair. The better option of the two is Long Beach as the 49ers are right on the cusp of being a top-100 RPI team. A slight bump for LBSU notches one more top-100 win for BYU.
Stanford: The Cardinal is on Utah's side of the bracket, so there is not much help available here as I think it would be better for BYU if Utah does well. So all we can ask here is for Stanford to beat Washington in the first round, then bow out to Utah.
UMass: The win over the Minutemen turned out to be less helpful than we would have hoped, and they can't do much to help BYU but a marginal RPI bump. UMass is an 8-seed in the A-10 tournament. A first-round win over LaSalle is a must. That would lead to a matchup with 1-seed Davidson. An upset there would be great, as long as VCU or Dayton went on the win the tournament. That's about as far as the help gets.


Purdue: Purdue winning can help BYU, but it also strengthens their profile as a fellow bubble team. We're getting very intricate now, but the ideal situation is all other bubble teams lose their next game while Purdue strings together some wins. If other bubble competition fails, Purdue would be less of a threat and more able to help BYU's cause.