Much has been said about BYU basketball’s three losses to ranked teams this season. They held sizable leads in all three contests, but eventually caved to Iowa State, Wichita State, and UMass. It seems that when they face a talented team, BYU can’t seem to muster a win.
On the other hand, BYU has blown out inferior competition by staggering margins, including Tuesday night’s 48-point win over Prairie View A&M in which the Cougars nearly doubled the Panthers’ score.
In short, BYU thrashes on bad teams but can’t quite beat the good teams. So how good are they?
The answer lies in the games the Cougars played against two good (but not great) teams: Stanford and Texas. The Longhorns remain unbeaten except for their loss to BYU, and the Cardinal’s only other loss is to an undefeated Pitt squad. BYU’s wins against these successful yet untested teams shows that while the Cougars are not great, they are solidly above average.
BYU will have another opportunity to get a good win this weekend against Utah in Salt Lake City. Don’t laugh, Cougar fans; Utah is much improved this year. The Utes have only one loss, rank first in the nation in field goal percentage, and are sixteenth in the nation in points per game. Winning at the Huntsman Center will be a tall order for the Cougars, and a win would go a long way toward proving BYU’s worth.
But to get into the NCAA tournament, eventually BYU has got to get over the hump and beat a ranked team. With games remaining on the schedule against ranked Oregon and Gonzaga (at least twice), BYU still has a few chances to step up from a good to a great team.