BYU men’s basketball enjoyed a high-watermark campaign this season, cut short by the novel coronavirus pandemic that ultimately canceled the NCAA Tournament a week before it was set to begin.
Voters helped cement BYU’s standing for the 2019-20 season when the Associated Press released its final Top 25 on Wednesday, voting BYU at No. 18.
The Cougars climbed as high as No. 14 this season and finished with a record of 24-8, beating a handful of highly rated teams in the process. It’s the first time BYU has finished a season ranked since 2010-11, the team that finished ranke No. 10 after going 32-5 with senior guard Jimmer Fredette winning national player of the year honors.
This season’s Cougars were on track to claim a seed as high as No. 5 in this year’s national tournament, according to bracket experts. BYU finished No. 9 in the NCAA’s NET rating and No. 13 in Ken Pomeroy’s rating system.
Wednesday morning, ESPN.com appeased fans by releasing a simulated tournament bracket in which the No. 6 seed BYU Cougars hypothetically ended the nation’s record for most tournament appearances without reaching the Final Four (29) by defeating Indiana, Seton Hall, San Diego State, Yale and Virginia before losing to Wisconsin in the national championship game.
BYU was about as senior-laden as a team could get: seven seniors led the Cougars on the court, sparked by a trio of Yoeli Childs (22.2 points per game, 9.0 rebounds per game), TJ Haws (14.0 points, 5.8 assists) and Jake Toolson (15.2 points, 4.8 rebounds). BYU was the eighth-most experienced team in the country this season.
That helped the Cougars field one of the nation’s best offenses. BYU led the country in 3-point shooting (42.2%), was second in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.57), third in total field-goal percentage (50%) and fifth in assists per game (17.4).
First-year head coach Mark Pope led BYU to a home win over No. 2 Gonzaga late in the season. Other top wins, according to Pomeroy ratings, included Houston (14), Saint Mary’s (38), Utah State (41), San Francisco (74) and UCLA (78).