BYU Stirs Up NCAA Tourney Projections With Upset Over Gonzaga

Feb 23, 2020, 4:43 PM
Jake Toolson - BYU Cougars - Gonzaga Bulldogs...
Courtesy of BYU Photo

PROVO, Utah – The BYU men’s basketball team shook up NCAA Tournament projections by college basketball bracketologists after the No. 23 Cougars upset the No. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs.

BYU defeated the Zags 91-78 at the Marriott Center on Saturday, February 22.

“It might be an exaggeration to say BYU’s entire season had been building toward Saturday night’s home game against Gonzaga, but only a slight one,” wrote ESPN’s John Gasaway after BYU’s upset victory.

With the win, the Cougars improved their current winning streak to eight games and moved to a record of 23-7 on the season.

With senior forward Yoeli Childs in the lineup this season, BYU owns a 15-2 record. Childs is leading the Cougars with averages of 21.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. He is shooting 58.1 percent on field goals in 17 games played.

Top Five Takedown

BYU joined UNLV and Kansas in defeating opponents ranked in the top five of the AP Top 25 rankings on February 22.

No. 3 Kansas beat No. 1 Baylor 64-61 while UNLV handed No. 4 San Diego State its first loss of the season.

The Cougars’ win over the Zags ended multiple streaks for the Spokane-based squad.

“Gonzaga’s 40-game regular-season WCC win streak is no more,” Gasaway wrote. “BYU is poised to earn its highest seed since the days of Jimmer Fredette. It was a big night at the Marriott Center.”

Remarkable Shooting

The Cougars are shooting a remarkable clip of 60.4 percent for this season.

“A good shorthand for how well (Mark) Pope’s team is shooting is supplied by Villanova’s national championship team of 2018,” continued Gasaway. “The Cougars are just as accurate from the field in West Coast Conference play this season (recording a 60.4 effective FG percentage) as the Wildcats were that season in Big East play (60.3).”

Many bracketologists have listed BYU around a No. 7 in their tourney projections. By upsetting the No. 2 team in the country, the No. 23 Cougars will likely move up in experts’ seedings as well as the Top 25 rankings.

Gasaway pointed out that while he doesn’t believe BYU’s comparison to 2018 Villanova will result in a championship, it does show that the Cougars are a team that many college programs will hope to avoid during March Madness.

“No, that doesn’t guarantee a national title for BYU,” wrote Gasaway, “It says instead that this is one dangerous team that’s set to move higher in the bracket than the No. 7 seed that had been projected for it before the win against the Bulldogs.”

BYU closes out the regular season against the Pepperdine Waves on Saturday, February 29 at 4 p.m. (MDT).

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