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Cougar Tracks: The March to March

By Greg Wrubell   |  Posted Jan 9th, 2012 @ 9:20pm


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Eight weeks. Eight weeks from tonight, the West Coast Conference will stage its basketball tournament championship game in Las Vegas, and by the end of that night, the Cougars will either know if they're in, or how close they are to being in the NCAA Tournament.

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The bracket tea is still steeping, so the leaves are not yet ready to read, but we are getting an idea of where BYU stands in the Selection Sunday mix, and current signs point to the Cougars as a strong at-large candidate--barring a tourney title on March 5th.

ESPN's Joe Lunardi has BYU among three WCC teams in his latest bracket projection.

Lunardi also currently gives BYU a 55% chance of remaining in the main bracket and avoiding a berth in one of four "first round" games to open the tournament.

BYU has played/will play eight of the teams in Lunardi's latest bracket: St. Mary's, Gonzaga, Weber State, Wisconsin, Nevada, Buffalo, Baylor and Virginia Tech.

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BYU is not picking up any votes in the latest Top 25 polls (Gonzaga is ranked 21st/23rd and St. Mary's is receiving votes), but the Cougars are otherwise solidly-positioned in the major statistical rankings and matrices.

The NCAA's own RPI rankings have BYU ranked in the top 45, nearly matching the Jerry Palm RPI calculation. In the Pomeroy and Sagarin ratings, BYU is among the nation's best teams, and the WCC's top trio have enhanced the league's multi-bid possibilities:

Top Three in the WCC (national college basketball ratings/rankings)

Team AP Top 25 Coaches' Top 25 NCAA RPI Palm RPI Sagarin Pomeroy
Gonzaga 21 23 10 10 19 18
St. Mary's 31 27 31 31 16 22
BYU NR NR 43 42 28 21

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The NCAA's RPI team sheet (taking into account games v. D1 teams only) has BYU 0-2 against the RPI top 50 (v. Baylor, at St. Mary's), 5-1 against teams 51-100 (loss to Wisconsin) and 7-1 against teams 101+ (loss at Utah State).

Normally, losing at the Spectrum would not hurt you that much, but the Aggies' down year (USU's RPI is currently 156) has resulted in BYU's only "bad loss" of the year.

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BYU remains highly ranked in many major statistical categories, as reflected in conventional and more specific style-based numbers:

BYU's Ranking in National Statistical Categories, Top 50 (NCAA/Ken Pomeroy Stats as of 1/9/12; *indicates stats from kenpom.com)

Category Ranking Actual
Scoring Offense 17th 79.9 ppg
Scoring Margin 13th 16.2 ppg
FG% 18th 48.8%
FG% Defense 39th 38.9%
3PFG% 27th 39.3%
Rebound Margin 21st 6.9 reb/gm
Assists 4th 19.1 apg
Assist/Turnover Ratio 18th 1.36
Offensive Efficiency* 36th 110.3 rtg
Defensive Efficiency* 18th 89.3 rtg
Tempo* 13th 72.6 poss/game
Effective FG%* 12th 55.6%
2PFG%* 32nd 52.7%
3PFG%* 12th 40.9%
Steal%* 46th 8.1%
Assists/FGM* 9th 66.0%

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Every Monday, I will update BYU players' Points Available Percentage (PAP*) stats, and here are this week's numbers, with Brock Zylstra using his perfect shooting day v. USF to jump into the top five, and Charles Abouo's shooting slump (18 for his last 59 fg; 7 for his last 25 3pfg) dropping him in the rankings:

(Note: players must average at least 10.0 minutes per game to be ranked; not ranked are Josh Sharp, Nick Martineau and Chris Collinsworth)

Points Available Percentages for BYU Players (as of 1/9/12)

Rank Player Points Points Available PAP PAP last week PAP Up or Down from last week Rank last week Rank Up or Down from last week
1 Noah Hartsock 308 500 61.6 61.1 +0.5 1 Even
2 Nate Austin 79 141 56.0 55.8 +0.2 2 Even
3 Brandon Davies 233 437 53.3 53.4 -0.1 3 Even
4 Brock Zylstra 162 324 50.0 46.8 +3.2 7 +3
5 Matt Carlino 111 224 49.6 51.1 -1.5 4 -1
6 Stephen Rogers 104 212 49.1 49.7 -0.6 6 Even
7 Craig Cusick 56 117 47.9 46.8 +1.1 8 +1
8 Charles Abouo 200 420 47.6 50.4 -2.8 5 -3
9 Anson Winder 81 205 39.5 38.9 +0.6 9 Even
10 Damarcus Harrison 69 205 33.7 34.4 -0.7 10 Even

*PAP Formula: Points [(2PFGM x 2) + (3PFGM x 3) + FTM]/Points Available [2PFGA x 2) + (3PFGA x 3) + FTA] x 100

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