LAS VEGAS — Brigham Young put itself in the NCAA tournament conversation with a strong schedule and a good finish to the season.
But after failing to get the West Coast Conference’s automatic bid, now all the Cougars can do is wait.
“I think we should find ourselves in that tournament,” BYU guard Tyler Haws said. “This has been a challenging season, but I feel like our guys have come together and done enough to get in.”
BYU (23-11) picked up some solid wins with one of the nation’s tougher schedules, knocking off Stanford on the road, Texas and Gonzaga. The Cougars pass the playing-well-at-the-end test, too, winning 10 of their final 11 games, including two in the WCC tournament.
But by coming up short in the WCC title game with a 75-64 loss to Gonzaga, BYU has to sit around for five days before waiting to see if the NCAA selection committee believes its resume holds up.
The Cougars certainly have the support of Gonzaga coach Mark Few after playing the Zags three times this season.
“There’s not a question in my mind they’re an NCAA tournament team,” Few said. “The thing that always makes me laugh is the thought that those middling teams from the football conferences, I don’t think they could fare any better than what BYU has done here. They’re a very, very good team and I expect to see them pop up on Selection Sunday.”
As the conference tournamentes heat up, here’s six other bubble teams to keep an eye :
CLEMSON (19-11, 10-8 ACC): The Tigers seemed to be in good position for an at-large bid with a win over Duke on their resume and a solid run at the end of the conference season. That changed with an 83-78 overtime loss to Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale, a game Clemson led by five in the closing seconds. Now, the Tigers will likely need a run in the ACC tournament to get an invite. Clemson opens Thursday against the Georgia Tech-Boston College winner.
MINNESOTA (19-12, 8-10 Big Ten): The Golden Gophers have played one of the toughest schedules in the nation and have some solid victories, including Ohio State and Wisconsin. There’s just too many losses for Minnesota to expect to get in right now, including a bad-on-the-resume setback against Northwestern. The Golden Gophers will likely need a couple of wins in the Big Ten tournament as the No. 7 seed. The Golden Gophers open against Penn State on Thursday.
CALIFORNIA (19-12, 10-8 Pac-12): The Bears are the No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 tournament, but far from a lock to get into the field of 68. Cal has a not-so-impressive RPI of 55 and lost four of five before giving itself a good boost with an overtime win over fellow bubbler Colorado in the regular-season finale. The Bears can’t afford a loss in their Pac-12 tournament opener, against Colorado or USC, and would feel a whole lot safer if they can get to the title game.
TENNESSEE (20-11, 11-7 SEC): The Vols are peaking at just the right time. With its blowout victory over Missouri in the season finale, Tennessee closed the regular season with four straight wins to claim the No. 4 seed in the SEC tournament. The Vols’ RPI of 44 is OK and it has a solid strength of schedule, but two losses to Texas A&M do not look good. A loss in the SEC quarterfinals could put a big dent in Tennessee’s chances.
KANSAS STATE (20-11, 10-8 Big 12): A stumble at the end of the season has put what seemed a sure-bet trip to the NCAA tournament in jeopardy. With a chance to solidify its resume against two fellow bubble teams, Kansas State stumbled instead, losing to Oklahoma State and Baylor to close out the regular season. The Wildcats have wins over Kansas and Iowa State, but in the what-have-you-done-lately world of NCAA tournament selections, a 3-4 finish to the season might mean a couple of Big 12 tournament wins may be needed.
MARQUETTE (17-14, 9-9 Big East): The preseason favorites in the reconfigured Big East have some work to do for an NCAA tournament bid. The Golden Eagles had a disappointing end to the regular season, losing three straight, including two in double overtime. With an RPI of 85, the Golden Eagles will likely need to win the conference tournament, though coach Buzz Williams is hoping the Golden Eagles can still get in if they reach the championship game.