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How Far Will BYU Advance In First Big 12 Tournament Appearance?

Mar 10, 2024, 11:34 PM

Big 12 Tournament, BYU Basketball, Predictions...

How far will BYU basketball go in the 2024 Big 12 Tournament? Making predictions for the 14-team field. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The big stage at the Big 12 Tournament is here for BYU basketball.

One of the best stories in the Big 12 this year, BYU enters its first Big 12 Tournament as a 5-seed. They far exceeded the low preseason expectations that Big 12 coaches placed on the Cougars, tabbing them to finish 13th out of 14 teams.

“This league is all about the chase. It’s all about the chase. I wish they had picked us 14th or 15th,” said BYU coach Mark Pope. I think it actually helps our guys focus on each other. And it’s kind of worked to help consolidate our group. I do think we have a bunch of guys who are hungry for the chase right now and have really enjoyed that so far through the regular season.

“We’re not going to change anything for the postseason. We’re still on a heavy chase. These guys are so special. We’re just desperate to play as many more games as we can because we don’t want it to end.”

BYU enters the Big 12 Tournament comfortably in the NCAA Tournament projections. The Cougars are a lock to be in the field of 68.

However, the Big 12 Tournament presents opportunities for them to improve their seeding and strengthen their odds of playing in nearby Salt Lake City instead of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

You must go back 23 years to find the last time BYU basketball won a conference tournament title. That was when BYU was a member of the Mountain West Conference in 2001.

It would be quite an accomplishment for newcomer BYU in year one to take home the hardware at the Big 12 tournament. They would have to win four games in four days to win the title.

Nine teams from the Big 12 Conference, including BYU, are projected to be in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas State is also being considered for the Big Dance.

The nation’s number one team, Houston, resides in the Big 12 Conference Tournament. So there’s no shortage of storylines and intrigue when the games begin on Tuesday at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City.

2024 Big 12 Tournament Predictions

Here are my predictions for the 2024 Big 12 Tournament.

First Round

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

No. 12 UCF vs. No. 13 Oklahoma State

My pick: UCF

No. 11 Cincinnati vs. No. 14 West Virginia

My pick: Cincinnati

Second Round

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

No. 5 BYU vs. No. 12 UCF

My pick: BYU

BYU is 2-0 against UCF this season, but both games were won by seven points or less. The Knights made late-game runs in both BYU victories.

In the last meeting, BYU was up by 19 points in the second half despite a poor shooting performance from three-point range.

UCF is playing well as it enters the Big 12 Tournament. The Knights defeated TCU in Fort Worth in their regular season finale.

BYU’s offense should be too much for UCF. The Knights have one of the worst offenses in the league, so it will difficult to keep up with BYU.

No. 8 TCU vs. No. 9 Oklahoma

My pick: Oklahoma

No. 7 Texas vs. No. 10 Kansas State

My pick: Texas

No. 6 Kansas vs. No. 11 Cincinnati

My pick: Cincinnati

This pick is based on the uncertain health status of Hunter Dickinson and Kevin McCullar. Dickinson suffered a shoulder injury in the loss at Houston. Then McCullar re-tweaked his knee.

Quarterfinals

Thursday, March 14, 2024

No. 4 Texas Tech vs. No. 5 BYU

My pick: BYU

BYU/Texas Tech would be an entertaining rematch. Both teams are two of the best stories in the conference this season. BYU had a 16-point halftime lead in Lubbock but was outscored by 23 points in the second half.

BYU guard Dallin Hall will have to shine for the Cougars to win this game. Tech is led by third-team All-Big 12 pick Pop Isaacs.

In the January meeting, Isaacs scored 32 points.

BYU finds a way to limit Isaacs from a similar performance and gets revenge for the loss in West Texas earlier this season.

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 9 Oklahoma

My pick: Houston

No. 2 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Texas

My pick: Iowa State

No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 11 Cincinnati

My pick: Baylor

Semifinals

Friday, March 15, 2024

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 5 BYU

My pick: Houston

An All-Cougar matchup in the Big 12 Semifinals.

The first meeting between these two teams was back on January 23. It was one of the loudest crowds in the history of the Marriott Center. When BYU’s Noah Waterman hit the three to tie the game up at 68, BYU looked ready to pull off the upset.

Then Houston did what Houston does: It went on a 7-0 run and squeezed out a win with some tough rebounds.

That victory was significant for Houston, marking their first Big 12 road win.

Houston has dealt with some recent injuries, losing Joseph Tugler and Ramon Walker for the season. Despite the personnel hits, the Coogs closed the regular season with a 30-point win over Kansas.

I’ll say BYU’s run in Kansas City ends against Houston, who is a cut above everyone else in this conference.

No. 2 Iowa State vs. No. 3 Baylor

My pick: Baylor

Championship

Saturday, March 16, 2024

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 3 Baylor

My pick: Houston

How can you not pick the Houston Cougars? Baylor appearing in a Big 12 Championship game would probably be a surprise. The Bears haven’t played in the Big 12 Tournament title game since 2014.

Houston solidifies its case as the number one overall seed when the bracket is revealed on Sunday afternoon.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com 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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How Far Will BYU Advance In First Big 12 Tournament Appearance?