NCAA tournament team previews: BYU Cougars
As part of its preview of the 2014 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. For more teams, click here.
Record: 23-11, 13-5 in West Coast Conference
Adjusted offense/adjusted defense: 113.8 (26th) / 101.2 (98th)
Seed: No. 10 in West
Key player: Tyler Haws, junior guard, 23.4 ppg, .411 3P%, .880 FT%
The Case For:
The Cougars ran second to Gonzaga for most of the West Coast Conference season, but they actually performed better against a more challenging non-conference schedule than did the Bulldogs. They won at Stanford and beat Texas on a neutral court, before splitting their regular season meetings with Gonzaga. They also lost by just two to Iowa State, hung with Wichita State -- whom they led at halftime – and lost by four to Oregon in overtime and by nine to Massachusetts.
The Cougars succeed by taking care of the ball and knocking down three-pointers. Their 15.3-percent offensive turnover rate ranked 25th in the country, and they were 59th in three-point percentage at 37.3 percent. It all starts with Tyler Haws offensively. The junior is one of the purest shooters in the country, and is lethal both behind the arc and at the free throw line. If he gets hot, BYU can beat many of the teams in the field. It likes to get up and down the floor, ranking eighth in adjusted tempo. That should make the rematch with Oregon one of the more entertaining second round games.
The Case Against:
Second-leading scorer Kyle Collinsworth is out for the tournament after tearing his ACL in the West Coast Conference championship game. Not only does he give the Cougars 14 points per game, he led them with 8.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists. Among those who played at least 20 minutes per game, he was also second on the team in minutes and steals per game, as well as field goal percentage. It's nearly impossible to quantify just how much they will miss his presence. BYU doesn't force very many turnovers, and there are some bad losses on the resume, including to Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Portland and Pacific. All of those teams are outside the top 130 in RPI. If a team can shut down Haws, the Cougars will have few options to turn to, especially with Collinsworth out.