Is it possible that the 2019-20 BYU Basketball season is the best team since Jimmer Fredette last played?
Just a few months ago, I was claiming that the BYU Basketball team was in a dumpster fire with no good foreseeable future. The Cougars were coming off of a 19 win season, the first time in 14 years, Yoeli Childs was leaving the team along with Jahshire Hardnett, Rylan Bergersen, Evan Troy and Taylor Maughan and there were rumors of other players leaving as well.
In other words, I projected BYU to win MAYBE 15 games in 2019-20.
Now however, the team is looking really good with a lot of potential. Since the hiring of Mark Pope there has been a new energy around the team. Yoeli Childs has decided to come back and suddenly the team seems poised to finally make a big run this year.
Coming back for the 2019-20:
81.7% of Points
82.2% or Rebounds
77.6% or Assists
70.4% or Steals
93.5% of Blocks
6 of top 7 Free Throw Shooters
6 of top 7 3PT PCT
5 highest FG PCT
Yes, this production is coming back after a 19 win season, but with the addition of Jesse Wade and Jake Toolson, and when you consider that there are seven seniors on this team, that is a lot of experience and depth. To give perspective, in the last four seasons combined there have only been five seniors, including zero last season.
Add the excitement of having a new Head Coach and the fact that teams will be unable to scout out the BYU game plan very well, and 2019 appears to be a good opportunity for the Cougars to reach the NCAA Tournament again.
A weak conference
The West Coast Conference is not going to be very strong next season. Gonzaga is actually... vulnerable with only one returning starter coming back, their fifth leading scorer (8.0 PPG). San Diego and San Francisco are each losing at least five seniors deflating their teams as well. The only team that will likely improve next season that was good last year is St. Mary's. The Gaels will be good after most of their production returns including Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts.
BYU going 1-1 against Gonzaga, 1-1 against St. Mary's and then 11-1 against every other WCC team sounds about right. With another two wins in the WCC Tournament the Cougars could find themselves 15-3 in WCC games going into the Championship game.
Good opportunities in the non conference
The Cougars will also have the chance to get some big wins or even some "good" losses at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Assuming the Cougars avoid Michigan State and Kansas as their first two games, the Cougars could easily aloha their way to a 2-2 record with two good losses that will actually help their computer rankings/SOS.
Add in the typical three or four MEAAC teams or whatever those conferences initials are (teams like Georgia State A&M, Western Wyoming Tech and Southwest New Hampshire Prairie), thee Deseret Classic and few other games (Boise State, UVU, Nevada and a few others that will be added later) and BYU is in a good spot.
Realistically, BYU could be anywhere from 10-5 to 12-3 in those games with two of those losses being to Top 15 teams.
Add that all together with the 15-3 WCC record and BYU Basketball could very realistically finish anywhere between 25-7 and 27-5, both records that should get in the NCAA Tournament regardless of whether they win the WCC Championship game.
I am not claiming that BYU Basketball will be a Sweet 16 team in 2019, but since 2011, the Cougars have only made it to the Round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament and with the roster and opportunities that they have this upcoming season could change that.