BYU coach Mark Pope believes Cougars deserved a higher NCAA tournament seed

BYU Coach Mark Pope Asserts Cougars Merited Superior NCAA Tournament Seeding

Mark Pope, the head coach of BYU’s basketball team, had high hopes for his team as Selection Sunday approached. He envisioned a short journey north to Salt Lake City for the NCAA Tournament. Pope believed his team deserved a five-seed, which would have favored them geographically in the early rounds of the competition.

However, the selection committee had other plans, placing BYU as a six-seed and assigning them to play in Omaha, Nebraska. BYU’s schedule includes a game against Duquesne on Thursday, followed by a potential matchup against either Illinois or Morehead State on Saturday. Despite being ranked 17th in the committee’s 1-68 seed rankings, which could have justified a five-seed position, BYU found itself on the six-seed line.

Pope expressed confusion and disappointment over the decision. He speculated that BYU’s inability to play on Sundays might have influenced their seeding, but he wasn’t convinced that was a valid justification. He pointed out that, based on the committee’s own rankings, BYU was the only team among the top 36 that seemed to be seeded incorrectly.

This season, BYU achieved a record of 23-10, including a victory over San Diego State, which received a five-seed in the tournament. Pope acknowledged the difficulty in comparing teams based solely on head-to-head matchups but expressed pride in his team’s ranking as the top five-seed according to the selection committee.

Despite the seeding outcome, Pope and his team were focused on the opportunity to compete in the NCAA tournament, emphasizing the challenge and excitement of facing strong teams. The possibility of playing in the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, which is hosting the first and second rounds of the tournament, had been a tantalizing prospect for BYU. Pope lamented the missed opportunity for BYU’s fans to support their team in a familiar venue.

This tournament marks BYU’s first appearance in three years and the second under Pope’s leadership. He reflected on the difficulty of securing a spot in the tournament and the myriad factors involved, ultimately expressing gratitude for the chance to participate and emphasizing the team’s enthusiasm and determination.