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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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ESPN bracketologist: BYU will barely make big dance

The long wait for BYU's on-the-bubble men's basketball team continues this week, as conference tournament play resumes around the country and the Cougars sit home and watch, hoping for favorites to win and advance and potential bid-stealers to fall short on upset bids.

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi conducted a conference call today with beat writers around the country, and I was lucky enough to get a question in regarding BYU's chances.

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I asked Lunardi if the fact that BYU is now "out of sight, out of mind" because it played and lost a week before almost everybody else contending for an at-large bid played will hurt the Cougars' chances.

Here's his reply:

"It's a great question. I don't think it is the change of conferences that will hurt them as much as just kind of an average profile. I mean, it is good, but not great. And they went 1-4 against the two finalists [in the WCC] ... The one win [against the top two] was at home against Gonzaga.

I think I wrote earlier in the week that because of the delay between BYU's loss in the semis and now waiting a week, really all they can do is root for Oregon, and root for Nevada, I guess, to stay as top 50 wins on their resume.

I think I am more hopeful in Oregon's case than Nevada's, simply because of the teams that those two BYU opponents will be playing."

Lunardi continued:

"If i remember, at least once or twice St. Mary's has scheduled a game during this lull. The year where they had Patty Mills out, to try and show that he was back and healthy -- unsuccessfully, if memory serves. Didn't they also try and play a game last year during this window? I wonder if BYU considered that? I think it is an overrated tactic.

"But in BYU's case, it does kind of change that out-of-sight, out-of-mind problem. While the game would be out-of-sight, it wouldn't be out-of-mind. The committee would know about it, and give whatever weight to it that they felt appropriate.

"Ultimately, I think BYU is going to be right on the cut line. I have them in now. I have them above the last-four-in group. I have them just above. ..... On my board, they are team number 47. They are the last team above the last four in.

So what is going to happen is, there are going to be some upsets. The bubble is going to shrink a little bit. Teams are going to now pass BYU, and they are going to be right on the cut line come Sunday.

I would say, if I was a betting man, that they would just make it, and play in one of those games in Dayton [Ohio]. And we know it would be a Tuesday game in Dayton, and not a Wednesday game, because they would have to feed a Thursday-Saturday site, because they are BYU."

Jason Franchuk of the Provo Daily Herald also got in a question about BYU, and whether the school's no-play-on-Sunday stance would affect its chances for an at-large bid.

Lunardi said it would not, but noted that BYU's stance is a "royal pain in the a...." to the committee. Lunardi believes teams other than BYU are affected by the stance more than the Cougars themselves.

Lunardi said he respects BYU's values, but believes BYU should be the school impacted by the decision to not play on Sundays, rather than other schools, which often happens when it comes to seeding.

By the way, Lunardi put out another iteration of bracketology this morning, and he currently has the Cougars as a No. 12 seed, playing No. 5 Temple in Portland and in the same pod as No. 4 Wichita State and No. 13 Nevada. I'm guessing BYU fans would take that in a heartbeat right now.

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