NCAA tournament team previews: BYU Cougars
As part of its preview of the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All stats through Monday, March 16.
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 116.7 (9th)/101.1 (139th)
Seed: No. 11 in West (First Four)
Impact player: Kyle Collinsworth, junior, guard: 14.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 5.8 apg
The Case For: This team can score. BYU averaged 83.6 points per game, second highest in the country. Senior guard Tyler Haws leads the team in scoring at 21.9 points per game, and he’s one of four Cougars averaging at least 12 points per contest. Collinsworth, meanwhile, is the very definition of an impact player. He averages 14 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game and had six triple-doubles this season. Not only did that set an NCAA record for most triple-doubles in a single season, it tied the career mark set by some guy named Shaquille O’Neal (and also Drexel’s Michael Anderson). BYU is 31st in the country in three-point shooting, led by Skyler Halford’s 48.5 percent. If you foul them, you’re essentially giving away points, as they’re fifth in the country in free throw percentage. This is an experienced squad, with Collinsworth and Haws reprising their big roles from last year’s team that earned an at-large bid. Their offense makes them a very tough out.
The Case Against: BYU had just one top-50 win all season, knocking off Gonzaga in Spokane. Sure, part of that is because the Cougars only played five games against top-50 teams, but the fact remains they largely came up short against the best competition they saw this year. They also suffered some really bad losses, falling to San Diego and getting swept by Pepperdine. They can be beat up in the paint on defense and allowed their opponents to make nearly half of their two-point field goal attempts. In its six games against teams that made the field of 68, BYU allowed an average of 82 points per game and 1.11 points per possession. The Cougars must have a great shooting night every time to be victorious. That might work for a round or two, but how long can BYU sustain that, especially when it will likely see a quality team every time it takes the court?