BYU Versus Utah State is the Game of the Year
BYU Basketball is currently being given a 90% to make the NCAA Tournament.
BYU Basketball is currently projected by Team Rankings as team with a 90% to make the NCAA Tournament. Yes, you read that correctly. They are also projected to be a six seed in the Big Dance. The projections have BYU finishing the rest of the regular season with an overall 15-4 record. It appears that the projections would see BYU likely go 1-1 against St. Mary's, dropping both games against Gonzaga and then another random game.
While the second statement appears to be a bit more far fetched of being a six seed, one has to wonder if Saturday's game against in-state rival Utah State is a make or break game for the Cougars.
While losing the game to Utah State would not take away all of the Cougars chances to make the tournament, it would at least damage their chances and force them to steal a game from either Gonzaga or St. Mary's or win out in every other game, something easier said than done as BYU has never finished a season in the WCC with losses only to those two teams.
Beating the Aggies would likely set BYU on a run that would see them heavily favored in every game until the January 9th meeting against St. Mary's where the Cougars would roll into Moraga with a six game winning streak and 12-4 overall record.
However, taking down Utah State is not going to be easy. The Aggies are much like BYU in that they have played very well without one of their best players. Neemias Queta, USU's center played for the first time this season earlier this week after being sidelined for injuries. Queta was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year last season and will be a rebounding machine for the Aggies, who are already leading the nation in rebounding.
The biggest match up of the night will be Yoeli Childs against Queta. If Queta is still recovering from injuries, expect Childs to more dominant inside, however if healthy don't be surprised to see a physical matchup between the two. Don't be surprised at all if the player with more dominant stats between those two is the difference in the game.
Considering that the Cougars are essentially in a 50/50 probability of beating the Aggies, it would mean that a win would put BYU at a 95% probability of making the tournament. If the Cougars can then avoid any bad losses to teams not named St. Mary's or Gonzaga, they may have already have their ticket for the March Madness Train.
The game will be broadcasted on BYUtv at 8:00 PM EST.