The Big 12 Tournament bracket is set! Where does BYU land?

With the official Big 12 tournament bracket being set, what is BYU's path?

BYU in their win over Kansas In Lawrence
BYU in their win over Kansas In Lawrence / Jamie Squire/GettyImages
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Following Saturday's games, the Big 12 Tournament is officially set. But where does BYU's record put them, and what will their path look like to a run at the championship?

After going 10-8 in Big 12 play, the Cougars (who were picked to be 13th in the preseason, by the way) have secured 5th place in the toughest basketball conference in the nation. Before the year, no one expected this team would boast one of the most prolific offenses in the country and the second-best offense in the conference (hats off to TCU).

But with their 5th seed in the tournament, what does that mean for their hopes of winning the conference tournament? Let me preface my answer by first saying whoa, slow down there. Don't expect BYU to win it all on their first time around, no matter how well they've held up against the Big 12's best squads this season. First-year power conference teams take time to adjust to this level of competition (unless you're Houston), and on the biggest stage of the conference schedule, the experienced teams have the edge. But who cares? It's fun to imagine the Cougars winning it all in their first year of Big 12 play after never winning as a member of the WCC.

Trevin Knell
Trevin Knell celebrates during BYU's win over Oklahoma State / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

What's BYU's path to a championship?

With the Big 12's tournament format, BYU will have a 1-game bye as the 5 seed. In their first game, they'll face the winner of Oklahoma State and UCF. In earlier articles, we talked about why BYU might want to meet OK State in the conference tournament, and why they might want to avoid UCF. Oklahoma State is the more favorable matchup, but BYU should come away from the first round with a win.

In the next round, BYU would face off against Texas Tech in a rematch of BYU's loss to the Red Raiders in Lubbock earlier this season. In the previous matchup, BYU lost a double-digit lead to Tech after Pop Isaac went nuclear from deep in the second half. That game was more than winnable, and I'm sure the Cougars would jump at the chance to avenge their previous shortcomings. Texas Tech is tough, though, and would give BYU a real challenge.

If BYU can escape that round with a win, they would likely face off against top-seeded Houston, which is where any rational person would concede to themselves that making it to the semifinals is more than good enough. But BYU fans are not rational people, and that's why I'm entertaining the possibility of an upset in the matchup of the Cougars. In their last game, BYU kept within striking distance of Houston from start to finish, and may win that game if they get hot at the right moment. If BYU can steal a win against Houston, then and only then is it reasonable to think that BYU can win it all. They would likely match up with one of Iowa State, Baylor, or Kansas in the final (though I'm not too high on the Jayhawks following their 30-point loss to Houston on Saturday).

The Cougars tip off their first game of the tournament on Wednesday, March 15 at 10:30 AM MST. Get excited!

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