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Five Reasons BYU Basketball Could Make An NCAA Tournament Run

Mar 17, 2024, 5:42 PM | Updated: 5:43 pm

BYU Basketball, NCAA Tournament, Dallin Hall...

BYU basketball starting point guard Dallin Hall will have to play great for the Cougars to make a run in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball is back in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars are in the Big Dance for the first time since 2021.

BYU landed a 6-seed in the East Region and will face 11-seed Duquesne in Omaha, Nebraska.

As you get set to fill out your brackets—maybe some on the KSL Sports Bracket Mayhem—here are some reasons that BYU could be a team worth picking deep into the brackets.

#1 Three-Point Shooting

BYU has not shied away from being a team that fires off three-pointers. Head coach Mark Pope wanted his team to be different in a physical Big 12 Conference.

The Cougars fire off 30+ threes per game. Their volume of threes gives them a chance to hit a high number.

When they reach 10 made threes, they are a tough team to take down.

Trevin Knell leads the way, hitting 39% of his three-point attempts this season. After Knell are Richie Saunders, Noah Waterman, and Dallin Hall, all shooting 35% or better from beyond the arc.

#2 Assist/Turnover Ratio

BYU is 7th nationally in assist/turnover ratio at 1.74. The Cougars are good at taking care of the basketball. But more importantly, they pass it around.

What’s unique about BYU’s Assist/Turnover ratio is that their best player is a center. Former Charlotte transfer Aly Khalifa is a 6-foot-11 big man with a 3.80 ratio this season.

Khalifa is the only center in the top 50 of individual assist/turnover ratio leaders.

BYU’s starting point guard, Dallin Hall, is 28th in the country at 2.86.

#3 BYU basketball has eight players that could be the star of a game

No individual player from BYU was named to the top three All-Big 12 teams. Leading scorer Jaxson Robinson, who came off the bench for BYU, earned the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year award.

But BYU is a team built on the collection rather than one individual.

BYU has seven players who score nine points or more per game and nine players on its roster who have scored a career-high of 20 points or more in a D1 college game. New Mexico is the only other team in D-1 NCAA Basketball with that many players who have scored 20+ in a game.

Out of those nine, eight make up BYU’s current rotation entering the NCAA Tournament.

#4 Underrated on the glass

BYU basketball is 24th nationally in rebound margin this season. The Cougars are outrebounding their opponents by 6.1 rebounds per game.

A big reason for that success is the three-point shooting. BYU capitalizes on long bounces off the rim for offensive rebounds. BYU is 28th in defensive rebounds and 57th in offensive rebounds.

The leading rebounders for BYU are guard Spencer Johnson (6.0), forwards Noah Waterman (5.5), and Fousseyni Traore (5.3).

#5 Battle Tested

For the first time in BYU’s history, the Cougars enter the NCAA Tournament with no one asking, “Who did they play?”

BYU navigated the nation’s toughest basketball conference in college basketball with a 10-8 record.

Among those 10 wins included victories over Big 12 Tournament Champion Iowa State, Baylor, and on the road at Kansas.

In the non-conference, BYU defeated eventual ACC Tournament Champion NC State in an MTE in November. They also defeated Mountain West Tournament runner-up San Diego State.

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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Five Reasons BYU Basketball Could Make An NCAA Tournament Run