BYU’s original West Coast Conference season-opener at Portland, scheduled for New Year’s Day, was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Pilots’ program.
At the time, the plan was for the game to be rescheduled, but it wasn’t.
Now, the Cougars, whose NCAA Tournament chances are precarious at best, are looking for a way to bolster their tournament resume by scheduling a Quad 1 opponent.
Cougars on the air
Loyola Marymount (9-16, 2-11)
at BYU (19-9, 7-6)
Thursday, 8 p.m. MST
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: BYU Radio/1160 AM
BYU is currently No. 55 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, which does not bode well for its at-large NCAA Tournament prospects.
According to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s tournament projections, the Cougars remain on the bubble, listed among “The Last Four Out.”
So BYU is desperately searching for an opponent that also needs an impressive win on its resume. The Cougars conclude their regular season this weekend with games against Loyola Marymount (Thursday) and Pepperdine (Saturday).
“Those conversations have gone in earnest the last three to four days. We’ve reached out to about 20 different teams. Decisions on that will probably be made after everybody gets through the weekend,” said coach Mark Pope. “We have some teams that could play (next) Tuesday. A lot that could play Wednesday. Most of them we’d need to be on the road to make it a Quad 1. ... It would be a resume-builder for the winner. That’s the idea.”
If BYU played a road game next Wednesday, it would then fly to Las Vegas to play in the WCC Tournament.
As of now, the Cougars are slotted as the No. 5 seed and would play in the second round of the tournament on Friday, March 4.
“All that is in limbo right now. We’re just trying to evaluate,” Pope said of trying to schedule a game. “We’re really aggressively, actively pursuing potential opportunities. So much would have to come together to make it happen. That’s something we’re talking about.”
Pope said BYU is discussing the possibility of a game with “teams that are kind of occupying the same space as us where it can be a difference-maker. Some teams just getting another win would be important for us. And it would be a quality win for both teams, no matter where we have the game.”
Among the teams BYU is talking to includes “a couple of teams” on the East Coast, Pope said.
“We’re just tip-toeing our way forward, seeing how things play out the next 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours,” Pope said. “And that’s all in theory. Everybody’s talking about it right now. But talking about it and actually getting a contract signed and getting a game is a super small step, but it’s a massive step.”
Earlier this season BYU tried to get an extra nonconference game to replace the Portland game, but that did not come to fruition.