Feb 13, 2014; Stockton, CA, USA; Brigham Young Cougars guard Tyler Haws (3) goes up for a shot against the Pacific Tigers during the first half at Alex G. Spanos Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

If BYU Wins at St. Mary's, are the Cougars Back in the At-Large Mix?

To hear that question asked earlier this morning I would have scoffed and said, is Jimmer playing in the All-Star game this weekend? No.

After that disappointing loss in Stockton against Pacific on Thursday, BYU was banking on Vegas and a possible WCC Tournament title.  Shut up and put your money where your mouth is, as Katy Perry once said in reference to ‘ol Sin City.  That’s what the Cougars were down to in hopes of getting an NCAA Tournament bid.

But then ESPN’s Joe Lunardi chimed in on Twitter today with his “Win and their in” tweet, and to my amazement BYU was one of those teams.  How is that possible I thought?

Lunardi also went on to say BYU is in the “First Four Out” heading into today’s game against the Gaels.

After that Pacific game, I thought BYU’s at-large were done.  We all did.  But Lunardi is bringing a slight slimmer of hope back into the lives of Cougar Nation, who dream of March Madness glory.

And for those that discredit Lunardi’s success at picking the bracket, he’s pegged on average 66 of the 68 teams announced on selection sunday the past five years.  The guy knows what he is talking about.  So if Lunardi says BYU has a fighting chance, they still do.

What is it about BYU that makes Lunardi keep them in the mix for an at-large spot?  They are 17-10 in the West Coast Conference.  With four of those losses coming against conference foes Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Portland, and Pacific (all on the road).

BYU’s strength of schedule is arguably the Cougars biggest strength right now.  You look at teams that are competing for at-large bids and many of them never left the comfortable confides of their own venue for all of November and December.  BYU traveled the country and played many good teams outside the WCC.  The Cougars had the fifth toughest non-conference schedule in all of college basketball this year.

Also, BYU plays an exciting brand of basketball.  They can’t play a lick of defense, but you can’t argue with how exciting BYU games have been this year.  Games against Iowa State, Wichita St., Texas, Stanford, all of which on an ESPN network were seen by national pundits, and BYU fared well in those games.  And the Cougars have one of the top scorers in the country behind Tyler Haws.

When you compare BYU’s resume to that of other “bubble” teams, BYU has an argument to get into the dance if they win out in the regular season, and face Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament Championship game.  If we see the BYU team that we’ve watched in Provo, I like their odds.  If we see the team that showed up this past Thursday against Pacific, well, the Cougars at-large hopes will officially be done at around 8 p.m. (MT) tonight.

Game Info:

BYU @ St. Mary’s
Tip: 6 p.m. (MT)
Announcers: Beth Mowins & Kara Lawson

Tags: Bracketology BYU Cougars Joe Lunardi NCAA Tournament St Marys Gaels Tyler Haws West Coast Conference

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