Cougar Sports Roundtable: Where BYU’s Win At Kansas Ranks, Spring Ball Objectives

Mar 4, 2024, 10:22 AM

The Cougar Sports Roundtable is a weekly BYU Cougars athletics feature on KSL Sports with KSL NewsRadio’s Cougar Sports Saturday & Cougar Nation team of BYU Insider Mitch HarperMatt Baiamonte, and Nate Slack. You can listen to them on Saturdays from Noon to 3 p.m. on 102.7 FM, 1160 AM, or On-Demand on the Cougar Sports Saturday podcast.

PROVO, Utah – It’s time for another week of the Cougar Sports Roundtable.

This week’s three questions look back at BYU basketball’s win at Kansas, the upcoming NCAA Tournament, and BYU football in spring practices.

The win over Kansas was an all-timer for BYU basketball. Was it the greatest win in program history?

Mitch Harper: What a win. Honestly, what a week for BYU. To follow up the Kansas win with a comeback victory over TCU, BYU is on a tear right now.

Being in Allen Fieldhouse and seeing the emotion from the team after their historic win was quite the sight.

But I would rank the win over Notre Dame in the 1981 NCAA Tournament, along with the 2011 victory at San Diego State, in front of this one. The reason for the SDSU win is that BYU was considered the best team in the country after they took down the Aztecs in San Diego.

Still, this victory over KU gave the BYU Cougars brand a lot of street cred in the Big 12.

Nate Slack: This is a great question. BYU has had some great wins, but I’d put this one at number two. Beating Top-5 Gonzaga multiple times was awesome, as was taking down SDSU in 2011 in Viejas Arena, like Mitch mentioned.

The reason I’d put the Kansas win above those is because of the novelty Kansas brings.

Kansas might not be having the best year by their standards, but they were still undefeated at home and ranked No. 7 in the nation. It’s not often BYU gets to play a blue blood, much less beat one ranked in the Top 10 on the road late in the season.

However, beating Notre Dame to advance to the Elite Eight still tops the list.

Matt Baiamonte: “Phog” Allen Fieldhouse is one of the three best and most hallowed venues in all of college basketball. Teams don’t go there very often and win.

I think Nate makes a great point about this particular Kansas team. They aren’t great, but they were undefeated at home prior to losing against BYU.

The way that BYU won this game, along with the opponent and venue, makes me think this is the best win in program history. BYU traded three-point shots with Kansas late in the game and made enough plays down the stretch to earn the win.

Let’s not forget it required a double-digit deficit comeback to get the win as well.

Lastly, it was the first time the Cougars played Kansas as Big 12 league opponents. All those combined make it easy for me to say it was the best win in program history.

What seed do you think the BYU Cougars deserve in the 2024 NCAA Tournament? And what seed do you think they end up receiving?

Harper: I think BYU should get a 4-seed.

They have defeated four teams this season who were ranked in the AP Top 25 and they’ve won 10 games against Quad 1 and Quad 2 opponents. BYU is good and deserves a chance to play in Salt Lake City as a 4-seed.

Does the selection committee feel the same way? I have my doubts. I’m bracing for BYU to be placed as a 6-seed against a blueblood opponent or a familiar foe from the past like Saint Mary’s.

Slack: I think BYU deserves a 4- or 5-seed. They’re 6-6 in Quad 1 games and have wins over some really good teams. But when has BYU ever benefited from a selection committee? Whether it’s the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee or the CFP Committee, BYU always gets burned.

Hopefully this can be the year that changes and they can be rewarded with a couple of games in Salt Lake City.

Baiamonte: I want to believe BYU can earn a 4-seed, but I don’t see it happening with their history of seeding.

However, the Cougars can still earn that seed, and possibly higher, with the games remaining on the schedule. It would require a road win against Iowa State, plus a berth in the Big 12 semifinal round in Kansas City.

I believe that BYU will end up being a 5-seed. They could still fall as low as 7-seed if they don’t win another game, although I think that is unlikely considering how great they played last week in the second halves in wins against Kansas and TCU.

Regardless of the seed line, all Cougar fans should be excited to see BYU back in the NCAA tournament because that will become reality in a few weeks.

What does BYU football need to accomplish during spring camp?

Harper: Identifying playmakers on offense.

BYU’s wide receivers appear to be the strength right now, but I wonder if they have an All-Big 12 performer in that group. This entire offense has a lot of questions.

There is potential with LJ Martin at running back, Ryner Swanson and Jackson Bowers at tight end. But they need to have 15 consistent practices during the spring that leave Aaron Roderick and this offensive staff feeling that they have a strong foundation to build off of heading into the summer.

Slack: Regain confidence.

I think the blowout losses to TCU, West Virginia, and Iowa State killed the confidence of the players just like it did for fans. BYU was able to figure things out towards the end of the year, and honestly, maybe this isn’t even a concern if BYU beats Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, but the annual decline every year since 2020 is worrisome.

It feels like expectations for this season are even lower than they were heading into last year. My hope is that the football team can benefit from another year of continuity, like what the basketball team is experiencing. Being confident in your knowledge of the offense/defense, having confidence in the guys you’re playing with, and believing in what the coaches are saying can be the difference between a 4-8 season and an 8-4 season.

Baiamonte: BYU football needs to identify a starting quarterback by the end of spring ball. I think there is tremendous value in getting that position locked into before PRPs (player-run practices) begin in the summer.

Whoever wins the job, whether it be Jake Retzlaff or Gerry Bohanon, will need every rep they can get to build chemistry with the offensive.

I think BYU’s defense will improve last year, not sure how much, but they’ll be better in the second year under Jay Hill.

It’s up to the offense to return to form after such a dismal season. The success of that group will determine whether or not this team can return to a bowl game.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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Cougar Sports Roundtable: Where BYU’s Win At Kansas Ranks, Spring Ball Objectives