BYU Basketball may not control their own destiny anymore.
Last week BYU went 2-0 in California. Despite this, the Cougars continued to fall in most bracket projections. In the most reputable bracket (Lunardi), the Cougars dropped from the fourth team in to last team in, putting them squarely on the chopping block.
But why is this? Why is it that BYU continued to fall despite winning?
The problem is that even as P5 teams continue to lose, their SOS (Strength of Schedule) continues to rise. Where BYU had a strong SOS in the non conference, their conference SOS has been much lower. The bottom line is a close loss to a Quad One team looks a lot better than a win against a Quad 4 team.
Unfortunately for BYU, their remaining three regular season games are against Quad 1 Saint Mary’s and two Quad 4 games against once again LMU and Pepperdine.
The Cougars can’t lose ANY of these games. If BYU were to lose to St. Mary’s they will drop out of the bracket and likely fall to the “Next Four Out” category. Even with wins against LMU and Peppperdine, they may even drop out of that category because those wins will mean nothing to their resume.
In fact, it is very possible that when the Cougars face the Gaels this weekend, they will be in the “First Four Out”. Again, this is because other P5 teams are boosting up their resumes and even with losses are moving up in the bracket.
Even scarier is that if BYU beats the Gaels, they likely only move into the fifth or sixth team in the tournament. That number could drop to three or four at the end of the regular season, again with other teams boosting their resumes while BYU is playing the 9th and 10th place teams at home.
This means that BYU will likely have to beat Santa Clara/San Francisco in the quarter finals and probably even St. Mary’s in the semi finals to feel somewhat secure about making the tournament.
This is a tall ask for a team that has won only twice in the last six games, but it is what the team faces.