From ESPN's Joe Lunardi to Jerry Palm of CBSsports.com, writers and NCAA Tournament bracket analysts around the country on Sunday night and Monday said it surprised them that BYU received a No. 14 seed from the Selection Committee.
"The biggest surprises to me were seeing BYU and Iona in a play-in game as a 14-seed," Palm wrote. "The winner of that game will be the first at-large team ever seeded 14th."
The Cougars and Gaels meet here in Dayton on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. MST, and President Barack Obama is expected to be in attendance at 13,435-seat University of Dayton Arena.
Lunardi also said he's never seen at at-large team(s) seeded that low, and that BYU's rule prohibiting its athletic teams from playing or practicing on Sunday -- for religious reasons -- probably had something to do with the seeding.
For the first time, the NCAA released its rankings of all 68 teams in the bracket, and BYU was ranked 48th by the committee. Seemingly, that would put the Cougars in 12 seed range. But avoiding Sunday play and keeping the Cougars away from other WCC teams (Gonzaga, St. Mary's) dropped BYU to a No. 14, which is normally territory for teams ranked 55-58, somewhere in that range.
At Monday night's BYU news conference here at University of Dayton Arena, I asked BYU coach Dave Rose about the apparent drop in seeding BYU got, and whether it rankled him at all.
"Probably I just feel that we're excited to be in the tournament," Rose replied, sort of sidestepping the question. "And if it was difficult for them to fit us in the tournament, then I am grateful for the work they did to help us fit in. And hopefully we can advance. That's what we want to do, is just advance."
NCAA interim vice president Greg Shaheen said on a conference call Sunday night that the last four teams to make the field were Iona, BYU, California and South Florida. California and South Florida will play in a First Four game here in Dayton on Wednesday night, but both are No. 12 seeds.
By the way, wouldn't a No. 12 BYU vs. No. 5 New Mexico matchup in Portland have been fun?
NCAA men's basketball media coordinator David Worlock told CBSsports.com that "another problem in bracketing was having to accommodate BYU in a Thursday-Saturday regional if the Cougars win the first-round game against Iona" and that "BYU's policy against playing athletic events on Sundays forced the Cougars ... to a No. 14 seed."
He said separating BYU, Gonzaga and St. Mary's was "also an issue" that led to BYU's 14 seed.
Another potential loser in the big seeding drop is Marquette, a No. 3 seed that will now potentially have to play a team that is listed as a 14 seed, but is really a 12 seed, in the committee's eyes.
Along with Rose, BYU's Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies appeared at tonight's news conference. I will have some of their better comments -- including what Hartsock had to say about Pres. Obama attending the game -- in a later post.
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