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Better late than never — BYU cracks final AP Top 25

The Cougars (20-6) checked in at No. 23, sandwiched between a pair of Pac-12 schools, No. 22 Colorado and No. 23 USC

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BYU coach Mark Pope claps on the sideline of a game against the Pacific Tigers at the Marriott Center in Provo.

BYU coach Mark Pope works the sideline during the game against the Pacific Tigers at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

One day after receiving a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, BYU made its season debut in the Associated Press Top 25 in the final poll of the year.

The Cougars (20-6) checked in at No. 23, sandwiched between a pair of Pac-12 schools, No. 22 Colorado and No. 23 USC. It marks the second straight season that BYU has appeared in the final AP poll. In 2020, the Cougars finished No. 18 after the first season under coach Mark Pope.

BYU, making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015, will face the winner of the play-in game between No. 11 seeds Michigan State and UCLA. The Spartans and Bruins meet Thursday night in the First Four.

The Cougars will play their first-round game Saturday (7:40 p.m., MDT, CBS) against either Michigan State or UCLA at Hinkle Fieldhouse, on the campus of Butler University.