By the time the week is over, the BYU men’s basketball team’s regular season will be over. It will have consisted of 30 games overall, 15 of them in the West Coast Conference.
But the Cougars were supposed to have played 31 games this season, and 16 in the WCC. What caused the one-game disparity was a Jan. 1 game against Portland that was postponed due to COVID-19 but never rescheduled.
So the Cougars, who entered the week 19-9 overall (7-6 WCC) with two home games remaining before the WCC Tournament, have themselves an opportunity to get an extra game in an effort to maybe bolster their NCAA Tournament résumé. And that’s exactly what the team is trying to do.
“Those conversations have gone in earnest for the last three or four days,” coach Mark Pope said Tuesday. “We’re really aggressively actively pursuing potential opportunities. So much will have to come together to make it happen, but that’s something we’re talking about.”
Pope said he has reached out to “about 20 different teams” to see when and where a game can occur. Some teams, he said, can play next Tuesday, while many can play Wednesday. In order to make the game a Quad 1 affair in the NCAA NET rankings, BYU would most likely need to play on the road.
Part of the evaluation process hinges on when the Cougars start WCC Tournament play. As the fifth-place team in the conference, they would play Friday, March 4, if the tournament started today. Their seeding could change depending on how the weekend’s conference games play out.
It would be a difficult turnaround if, for example, BYU played a team on the road on the east coast on a Wednesday and then had to fly to Las Vegas to play 48 hours later. Pope said he thinks a decision of whether to play an extra game will probably be made after this weekend.
“All of that is in limbo right now,” Pope said. “We’re just trying to evaluate and see.”
Senior guard Te’Jon Lucas did not express a preference either way when asked if he wants to play an extra game to better BYU’s NCAA Tournament chances. But he indicated that he and the Cougars will be ready no matter what.
“I trust coach,” Lucas said. “I’m pretty sure we’re going to do what’s best for us at the end of the day. A lot of the games that we played early on are holding pretty solid weight for us to be still in contention to make the tournament.
“If the game is going to help us, I’m pretty sure the coaches will try to get one. But if it’s not going to do anything for us, I’m pretty sure we won’t play another one. I’ll leave that up to the coaches and let them figure that stuff out, and I’ll just be ready to play.”