Already squarely on the bubble after its WCC title game loss Tuesday night, BYU received some injury news Wednesday that may make their NCAA tournament hopes even more tenuous.
An MRI confirmed that the right knee injury all-conference guard Kyle Collinsworth suffered Tuesday night was indeed an ACL tear. Collinsworth, BYU's second-leading scorer and leader in rebounds and assists, will not be available for the postseason.
What will be interesting now is whether the selection committee will assess BYU differently because it won't have Collinsworth. There is precedent for the committee lowering the seeding of a team because of a key injury, a la Kenyon Martin and Cincinnati in 2000, but it's unclear what would happen if the team in question is in line to receive one of the final at-large bids.
BYU coach Dave Rose sidestepped the question Tuesday night when asked whether he feared that the injury to Collinsworth could impact his team's fate with the selection committee.
"I'm just really proud of our team," Rose said. "As a group we battled through a very difficult non-conference schedule. We had a couple games that we had a chance to win and didn't get them. The guys responded and fought back. We didn't get off to the best start in league play, but we finished really strong. That's how I personally feel about our team. We'll see what happens."
Most mock brackets had BYU (23-11) as one of the final at-large teams before the loss to Gonzaga and the Collinsworth injury, but the Cougars certainly weren't a lock.
Bolstering BYU's case is a formidable non-conference schedule rated fifth-toughest in the nation. The Cougars beat Texas on a neutral floor, won at Stanford and suffered narrow losses to NCAA tournament-bound Wichita State, Iowa State, UMass and Oregon. What detracts from BYU's resume are the bad losses it suffered in WCC play. Pacific, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine and Portland each upset the Cougars.
If BYU needs someone to argue on its behalf in front of the selection committee, Gonzaga coach Mark Few would be a good candidate. Few said after his team's 75-64 victory over the Cougars that BYU clearly looks like an NCAA tournament team to him and is more deserving than the mid-tier power conference teams.
"Without a doubt," Few said. "It's how hard they play, how skilled they are. Nobody attacks offensively the way BYU does. They come at you and if you're not ready, they can run at you.
"You've got to look at the schedule they played. I thought they played the toughest non-conference schedule in the country when you take into account where they played those games at. I watched a lot of those games and they came down to a possession or two -- the Iowa State game, the UMass game, Oregon. They're even with those teams. I watched them play even and they should've won. So there's not a question in my mind they're an NCAA tournament team."
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