While the BYU women’s basketball team is sitting pretty with its automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, the men’s team still has yet to find out its fate.
With Selection Sunday only a few days away, the bracket predictions are heating up on the major sporting networks.
Sixty-eight teams make it into the tournament, with the lowest eight teams playing in the first round to determine which of them will make it into the 64-team bracket.
The process for coming up with these 68 teams goes a bit like this.
There are 10 members on the selection committee. The committee is comprised of athletic directors and conference commissioners belonging to Division I institutions from around the country. The committee is geographically balanced and each member serves a five-year term.
Before the selection begins, 31 teams automatically make it into the tournament just by winning their conference championship, or the regular-season title in the Ivy League.
The selection committee then chooses 37 teams for at-large bids. These bids are invitations into the tournament and place teams totally at the mercy of the 10 members on the committee. BYU is one such school who is hoping for an at-large bid.
During the process of selection, the committee must also seed the teams by looking at their records, strength of schedule and RPI (Ratings Percentage Index). BYU’s RPI (48) and record (25-8, 12-4 WCC) are high enough to consider them for a bid. The Cougars have beaten a number of impressive teams including Gonzaga, Oregon, Nevada, Buffalo and Weber State but their strength of schedule is average and they had two bad losses to Utah State and Loyola Marymount.
For the three most popular sporting networks, BYU seems to be on the bubble in the minds of many of the top sports analysts in the country.
FOX Sports seems to be the most pessimistic of the bunch, choosing BYU to be the first school out of the tournament. They’ve chosen a typical top four in North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse. Gonzaga sits at a comfortable No. 7 seed where it has been predicted to play Connecticut while St. Mary’s is also predicted to be a No. 7 and is currently set to play Washington.
ESPN is feeling the love for BYU, seeding them to take the No. 12 spot and play a No. 5 seed Temple (24-6, 13-3). Temple sits atop the Atlantic-10 Conference and edged No. 3 Duke early in the season. On the plus side, BYU averages more points (78.2), rebounds (38.5) and assists (17.0) per game then Temple.
If BYU does get placed into this seed and continued on with its season averages, it could go on to play the winner of Wichita State and Nevada in the next round, according to this prediction.
NBC has set BYU up for its highest second round seeding. At No. 11, BYU would play No. 6 Notre Dame (21-10, 13-5) in the second round, while having to face the winner between No. 2 Michigan and No. 15 Valparaiso in the third. Notre Dame likely wouldn’t go down easy, though.
The Irish lost to Gonzaga early in the season but also came up big to beat No. 1 Syracuse and No. 15 Marquette. They are inconsistent against ranked teams with a record of 3-5 but they’ve also shown they can compete with top-flight teams.
Now, all we can do is sit and wait to see if the selection committee agrees with ESPN and NBC. And if they do, Cougar fans will be cheering along with the team on Sunday. The selection is set to start at 4 p.m. MT on NBC.