‘It’s all BYU’s fault’: How the Cougars impacted the Pac-12’s Oregon and USC Sweet 16 matchup
The Pac-12’s success — with four teams advancing to the Sweet 16 — has been one of the main storylines of the Big Dance. BYU’s seeding played a role in the Trojans and Ducks meeting at this stage of the tournament
While sixth-seeded BYU was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round by No. 11 UCLA, the Cougars also impacted No. 6 USC playing No. 7 Oregon in the Sweet 16, according to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News.
The Pac-12’s success — with four teams advancing to the Sweet 16, including the Bruins — has been one of the biggest storylines of the Big Dance so far. BYU’s seeding played a role in the Trojans and Ducks meeting at this stage of the tournament.
Wilner reported that the No. 6 seeds were ranked this way — No. 21 USC, No. 22 Texas Tech, No. 23 BYU and No. 24 San Diego State.
“Per the S-curve, the top No. 6 seed should have been placed into a region with the lowest No. 1 seed, Michigan,” he wrote. “But it wasn’t.”
David Worlock, the NCAA’s director of media coordination and statistics, explained to Wilner, “When the committee was seeding the six line, there were obstacles that prevented the use of the S-curve.”
What were those obstacles?
“The first was BYU. By university policy, the Cougars do not engage in competition on Sundays and therefore required a Saturday-Monday region: Either the West or East (i.e., the left side of the brackets),” Wilner wrote. “But the West was Gonzaga’s territory, and the West Coast Conference rivals — the only WCC teams in the tournament — played three times during the season.”
Wilner reached out to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi for clarification.
“According to Lunardi, the committee would have gone to great lengths to avoid placing BYU and Gonzaga in the same region,” Wilner wrote. “The only option, therefore, was to slot the Cougars into the East (lower left).”
What is Lunardi’s take?
“‘It’s all BYU’s fault,’ Lunardi quipped. ‘It’s an unusual circumstance that BYU brings to the bracketing. This wasn’t the first time.’”
According to Wilner, the First Four matchups were also a factor.
“USC could not be the No. 6 seed in the region where UCLA was the No. 11, because that would have set up the Bruins and Trojans for a round-of-64 date and violated one of the key bracketing principles: Teams from the same conference cannot meet in the first or second rounds if they played at least twice during the regular season,” Wilner wrote.
“So the Trojans could not be placed with UCLA in the East (lower left), further entrenching BYU in that region. The same principle impacted the placement of another team on USC’s seed line, Texas Tech. The No. 6 seeds play the No. 3s in the second round. Kansas, Texas and West Virginia were No. 3s, and Texas Tech played each of them at least twice. So the Red Raiders could not be placed in a region with those teams as the No. 3 seed.
“‘It meant the committee had no choice but to place Texas Tech in the South,’” Worlock told Wilner.
“At that point in the seeding of the No. 6 seeds, two spots were locked up: BYU in the East (lower left) and Texas Tech in the South (upper right),” Wilner continued. “That left two teams, USC and San Diego State, and two slots, the West (upper left) and Midwest (lower right).”