Can BYU Basketball stay in the Top 25?

BYU is a legitimate Top 25 team, but can they stay in the rankings?

Noah Waterman celebrates a 3-pointer against Texas
Noah Waterman celebrates a 3-pointer against Texas / Chris Gardner/GettyImages
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2024 has been a basketball renaissance in Provo, UT. The Cougars are ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the tragically shortened 2020 season, but everyone has one question on their mind: how long can they keep this up?

After struggling through their final season in the West Coast Conference, the general sentiment among fans was that the basketball team would struggle to find their footing in the loaded Big XII conference. Today, the Big XII is every bit as talented as advertised, but BYU came to play. Mark Pope’s squad entered their inaugural Big XII season like they’d been fired out of a cannon. Losing only one—admittedly heartbreaking—loss in non-conference play to rival Utah, BYU entered their conference schedule ranked 12 in the AP Poll and had consistently been in the top 5 of the NET rankings (which quickly became BYU fans’ favorite ranking format).

Mark Pope’s squad entered their inaugural Big XII season like they’d been fired out of a cannon. Losing only one—admittedly heartbreaking—loss in non-conference play to rival Utah, BYU entered their conference schedule ranked 12 in the AP Poll and had consistently been in the top 5 of the NET rankings (which quickly became BYU fans’ favorite ranking format).

Mark Pope, Spencer Johnson, Trevin Knell, Noah Waterman
Mark Pope deliberates with his team as they take on the UCF Knights / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

After the Cougars’ recent nail-biting victory over Central Florida in the Marriott Center, they sit ranked 19th overall with an 18-6 record. The Big XII has proved challenging for the Cougs, but they are currently above .500 in conference play. They've adapted to the grueling physicality of their new conference. BYU is like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail; no matter how many times you strike them down, they simply refuse to die (16-point road loss to Oklahoma? ‘Tis but a scratch). This team has been resilient, and it’s no secret why BYU has been a NET and KenPom ranking darling throughout the season. They are efficient, smart, and adaptable to the grueling Big XII gauntlet.

BYU is among the nation’s best 3-point shooting teams, but when the Big XII overplayed the 3-ball, they learned to play inside-out rather than outside-in with the dominant scoring ability of Fousseyni Traore and the Jokic-esque passing wizardry of Charlotte transfer Aly Khalifa. Basically, if you overplay one aspect of the Cougars’ offense, you leave yourself exposed to punishment in the other aspects. Good news for those who are still too afraid to jinx the Cougars' good fortune before March, consider BYU’s remaining 6-game schedule:


Home games: OK St, Baylor, TCU

Away games: OK St, KSU, Kansas, ISU

Matchups against Oklahoma State and TCU are winnable and don’t be surprised to find BYU stealing a win against Kansas, ISU, or KSU on the road. Realistically, the Cougars will likely finish around .500 in conference play, but that should be more than enough to be set up for a deep run in the Big XII and NCAA Tournament.

Jaxon Robinson, Darius Johnson, Marchelus Avery
Jaxon Robinson fights through the UCF defense / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

BYU will finish the season in the Top 25. If I told you this before the beginning of the season, I’d likely be made a public example of blatant homer-ism and blind fanaticism, but with everything we know about this team and the schedule ahead of them, this team has all the tools to not only punch their ticket to March Madness but is equipped to make a deep run if the stars align.

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