Looking Back At BYU Basketball’s History In The NCAA Tournament

Mar 16, 2024, 7:21 PM

BYU Basketball, Jimmer Fredette, NCAA Tournament...

Jimmer Fredette led BYU basketball to three victories in the NCAA Tournament. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – The NCAA Tournament has not been kind to BYU basketball.

BYU holds the distinction of being the program with the most NCAA Tournament appearances without playing in the Final Four.

The 2024 NCAA Tournament will be BYU’s 31st appearance in the Big Dance.

BYU is 15-33 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.

Since 1979, when the NCAA adopted a seeding format, BYU is 11-23 in the Big Dance.

The Cougars have appeared in the Sweet 16 twice since 1979. They have played in the Elite Eight once. That was in 1981 with legendary guard Danny Ainge, who was the Naismith Player of the Year that season.

Jimmer Fredette led BYU to memorable NCAA Tournament runs in 2010 and 2011. During his senior season, Fredette took BYU to the Sweet 16 after defeating Wofford and Gonzaga.

Looking back at the history of BYU basketball in the NCAA Tournament

Before the 2024 season, BYU’s last NCAA Tournament appearance was during the COVID season in 2020-21.

In that year, the NCAA Tournament was based out of Indianapolis and teams were stationed in a “bubble” environment to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

BYU’s last appearance in an NCAA Tournament that COVID-19 didn’t impact was 2015.


Western Regional Semis (Kansas City): Baylor 56, BYU 55

Western Consolation (Kansas City): BYU 83, UCLA 62


West First Round (Kansas City): BYU 68, San Jose State 61

Regional Semifinals (Kansas City): Kansas State 64, BYU 54

West Consolation (Kansas City): Washington 80, BYU 67


West Regional Semifinals (Corvallis, Oregon): California 86, BYU 59

West Regional Consolation (Corvallis): BYU 65, Idaho State 54


West Regional Semifinals (Provo): UCLA 100, BYU 76

West Regional Consolation (Provo): Oklahoma City 112, BYU 102


West First Round (Las Cruces, New Mexico): New Mexico State 74, BYU 62


West First Round (Logan): BYU 91, Utah State 82

West Reg. Semifinals (Salt Lake City): UCLA 91, BYU 73

West Reg. Consolation (Salt Lake City): Pacific 84, BYU 81


West First Round (Pocatello, Idaho): Long Beach State 95, BYU 90


West Second Round (Tucson): (4) San Francisco 86, (5) BYU 63


West Second Round (Ogden): (6) Clemson 71, (3) BYU 66

1981 (Elite 8 run in the NCAA Tournament)

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)

(6) BYU 60, (11) Princeton 51

(6) BYU 78, (3) UCLA 55

East Regional Semifinals (Atlanta)

(6) BYU 51, (2) Notre Dame 50

East Regional Final (Atlanta)

(1) Virginia 74, (6) BYU 60

The deepest run in the NCAA Tournament in BYU basketball history. Danny Ainge going coast-to-coast against Notre Dame to send BYU to the Elite Eight is an iconic moment in BYU history and March Madness lore.


Mideast Regional (Birmingham, Alabama)

(8) BYU 84, (9) UAB 68

(1) Kentucky 93, (8) BYU 68


SE First Round (Birmingham): (7) New Orleans 83, (10) BYU 79


Mideast Regional (Birmingham): (4) BYU 98, (13) UNC-Charlotte 92 (OT)

(5) Louisville 97, (4) BYU 76


East First Round (Hartford): (5) Clemson 49, (12) BYU 47


West First Round (Salt Lake City): (10) BYU 61, (7) Virginia 48

West Second Round (Salt Lake City): (2) Arizona 76, (10) BYU 61

The last time BYU defeated a single-digit seed was in Salt Lake City against 7-seed Virginia.


West First Round (Boise): (7) LSU 94, (10) BYU 83

Shaquille O’Neal put together a record-setting triple-double that included 11 blocks against BYU.


Midwest First Round (Chicago): (7) BYU 80, (10) SMU 71

Midwest Second Round (Chicago): (2) Kansas 90, (7) BYU 76


Midwest First Round (Memphis): (9) Tulane 76, (8) BYU 70


West First Round (San Diego): (5) Cincinnati 84, (12) BYU 59

It was an accomplishment for BYU to make the NCAA Tournament after five years prior, finishing with a 1-25 record. The stage appeared too big against a red-hot Cincinnati team led by Steve Logan.


South First Round (Spokane): (5) Connecticut 58, (12) BYU 53

The NCAA Selection Committee mistakenly placed BYU in a Friday/Sunday regional. If BYU had advanced to the Sweet 16, they would have switched regionals. UConn saved the committee from an embarrassing mistake.


Phoenix Region (Denver): (5) Syracuse 80, (12) BYU 75

BYU built an 11-point lead against Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone. The defending National Champions switched to man defense and Gerry McNamara scored 43 on BYU.


South First Round (Lexington): (9) Xavier 79, (8) BYU 77


West First Round (Anaheim): (9) Texas A&M 67, (8) BYU 62

The signs of Jimmer Fredette being special emerged in this game as Fredette stepped in off the bench to give BYU a lift after an abysmal start against Texas A&M.


West First Round (Philadelphia): (9) Texas A&M 79, (8) BYU 66

A rare rematch in the NCAA Tournament. Like the first meeting, BYU was no match for the Aggies.


West First Round (Oklahoma City): (7) BYU 95, (10) Florida 85 (2OT)

West Second Round (Oklahoma City): (2) Kansas State 84, (7) BYU 72

BYU’s first NCAA Tournament win in 17 years took heroic efforts from Jimmer Fredette and Mike Lloyd Jr. Who can forget Jimmer laying on the court waving to the camera?

2011 (Sweet 16)

Southeast Second Round (Denver): (3) BYU 74, (14) Wofford 66

Third Round (Denver): (3) BYU 89, (11) Gonzaga (67)

Semifinals (New Orleans): (2) Florida 83, (3) BYU 74 (Overtime)

BYU reached its first Sweet 16 in 30 years. But it’s a year of what could have been? When BYU suspended Brandon Davies for the season, it took away any chance of BYU reaching the Final Four.

They fell in overtime to Florida in a rematch game from the previous year.


West First Round (Dayton): (14) BYU 78, (14) Iona 72

West Second Round (Louisville): (3) Marquette 88, (14) BYU 68

BYU pulled off an epic 25-point comeback to storm back against the Iona Gaels. Their good luck ran out as they lost to Jae Crowder and Marquette in Louisville.


West Second Round (Milwaukee): (7) Oregon 87, (10) BYU 68

BYU was viewed as a team that would slide into Dayton if they made the NCAA Tournament. Instead, they were comfortably in the field of 68, avoiding Dayton altogether.

The only problem is that they were tasked with a rematch against an Oregon team that beat BYU in the regular season.


West First Four (Dayton): (11) Ole Miss 94, (11) BYU 90

BYU gave up a 17-point lead as Ole Miss put on a slam dunk contest en route to taking down the Cougars.


First Round (Indianapolis): (11) UCLA 73, (6) BYU 62

BYU was a sizable favorite against UCLA. The Bruins defeated Michigan State in the First Four, but unlike previous First Four teams, the Bruins didn’t have to travel as the NCAA Tournament was played throughout Indianapolis.

They had a game under their belt to get confidence, and Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez tore BYU apart in the Big Dance’s first round.


We will find out on Selection Sunday.

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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Looking Back At BYU Basketball’s History In The NCAA Tournament