SALT LAKE CITY — Five games — including tonight’s matchup at Loyola Marymount — remain for the BYU men’s basketball team during the regular season, then there’s the West Coast Conference tournament.

With such a short portion of the year remaining before the NCAA tournament, the Cougars remain in solid position to make the NCAAs for the first time since 2015.

ESPN’s Jay Bilas has seen enough to think it may be even more than just a one-and-done for BYU if it makes the NCAA tournament.

The Cougars come in at No. 28 in Bilas’ latest rankings, released Thursday morning, that rate the nation’s top 68 teams on their NCAA tournament viability. That puts BYU in Tier 3 of the rankings, under Sweet 16 contenders.

“The Cougars are senior-dominated, and that’s always a difficult proposition for opponents in March. With Yoeli Childs (21.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg) up front and TJ Haws (13.8 ppg, 5.3 apg) and Jake Toolson (15.8 ppg, 4.3 apg) in the backcourt, the Cougars are going to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015 and have a good chance to do some damage once they get there,” Bilas wrote.

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The West Coast Conference is well-represented in Bilas’ rankings, with Gonzaga at No. 3 (in Tier 1, labeled national title favorites) and Saint Mary’s — who the Cougars split a pair of contests with, including beating the Gaels less than two weeks ago — two spots behind BYU at No. 30.

Several BYU opponents appear in the rankings: Kansas and San Diego State, both victors over the Cougars, come in at No. 2 and No. 6, respectively, and join the Zags in the national title favorites category. Houston, who BYU edged 72-71 in mid-November, is one spot above BYU at No. 27. 

Utah State — who the Cougars beat 68-64 in the Beehive Classic — is No. 42, under the category, “Somebody might do it, but everybody here had better get better.” Bilas writes of the Aggies, “After some early-January stumbles, the Aggies are healthy again and could have a major head of steam once March arrives. The trio of Sam Merrill (18.4 ppg) on the wing and Neemias Queta (12.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Justin Bean (12.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg) on the interior is going to give Craig Smith’s group a chance to win every game it plays — including a potential date with a likely unbeaten San Diego State team in the Mountain West tourney.”

BYU continues to move up in the national rankings as the season presses on, as noted by the Deseret News’ Jeff Call. Earlier this week, he wrote, “The Cougars (19-7, 8-3), riding a four-game winning streak, are ranked No. 23 in the NCAA’s NETNo. 16 by and No. 24 (up from No. 31) by Andy Katz. When the Associated Press poll was released Monday morning, BYU collected 43 votes (up from 14 last week) to finish outside the top 25 at No. 29.”