Don’t count the Cougars out

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The BYU men’s basketball team is in an uncomfortable position, one no college basketball team wants to be in at the end of February. The Cougars are on the bubble.

The Cougars have demonstrated that they are a top-level team throughout the season. Most ranking systems put them in the mid 30s overall. Their guard, Tyler Haws, is one of the country’s most prolific scorers, and Kyle Collinsworth is the all-time triple-double leader in the nation.

Kyle Collinsworth's reaction when a referee said he took the ball out of bounds.  (Bryan Pearson)
Kyle Collinsworth’s reaction when a referee said he took the ball out of bounds. (Bryan Pearson)

The NCAA Tournament selection committee doesn’t look at rankings or stars as much as it does the RPI system. The RPI, or Ratings Percentage Index, ranks teams based upon wins and losses as well as the strength of a team’s schedule.

The Cougars’ RPI isn’t great. With a 22-8 record and losses to Pepperdine and San Diego, the Cougars currently are ranked No. 56 in RPI.

A low RPI has put the Cougars’ post season hopes in jeopardy, but they aren’t quite out of the running. There are still a few options to help the Cougars make the tournament.

The easiest solution for such tournament woes is to win the WCC championship Mar. 5–7 in Las Vegas. The winner of the tournament gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

If that doesn’t happen there is still a glimmer of hope.

BYU has an opportunity to impress the selection committee in its game against Gonzaga Feb. 28. A win over the No. 3 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs would do wonders in improving the team’s chances, but it’s not an easy feat. The Bulldogs currently hold the longest home winning streak in the nation. They have been perfect at home since Dec. 8, 2012, an astounding 41 games. Beating them in such circumstances would end their record and end the Cougars’ regular season with some extra spice.

BYU would jump past other teams on the bubble and have an opportunity to play in March.

Current teams on the bubble include:

  • Colorado State (24-5 [RPI:26])
  • Oregon (21-8 [RPI:42])
  • Temple (20-9 [RPI:33])
  • Texas (17-11 [RPI:33])
  • UCLA (17-12 [RPI: 50])
  • Cincinnati (19-9 [RPI:54])

BYU has the talent to do some damage in this year’s tournament, but only time will tell if it gets there.

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