Every year in the NCAA tournament there is a low-seeded team that everyone knows is better than its placement on the bracket. If the BYU Cougars are dancing come March, they will be that team.
Let's take a quick look at all the things the Cougars do better than any team in the nation. Take a deep breath, here.
BYU leads the nation in field goals made, field goals attempted, two-point shots made, two-point shots attempted, total points scored, free throws made, free throws attempted, defensive rebounds and total rebounds. They are third in the country in assists.
To be fair, the BYU mentality is quantity over quality. They take the most shots in the nation, but their field goal percentage is 53rd best at 47 percent. It's a good thing they shoot the most free throws in the country, because they only hit 69 percent of them, good for No. 203 overall.
It doesn't matter much, however, because when shots like this are falling, BYU is a tough out.
In crunch time, BYU has one of the best players on the West Coast to take shots like that. Tyler Haws might finish his career as the most prolific scorer from a school that has had its fair share. His 91.7 free throw shooting percentage his freshman year was fourth-highest for a freshman in NCAA history. He was the second BYU sophomore to score more than 1,000 points, after Danny Ainge. This season, his 22.2 points per game is the highest out of anyone from the Pac-12, the Big Sky, the WCC or the WAC.
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He steps up at big times, as well. Haws had 32 points in an overtime loss at Oregon. He had 25 in a loss to UMass. He opened up the season scoring 28 against Weber State and then dropping 31 on the road against Stanford.
On the rare off night for Haws, there are plenty of other options to take over for BYU. Matt Carlino, Kyle Collinsworth and Eric Mika are all capable of huge games. And freshman guard Skyler Halford is coming along nicely, with a season-high 28 points coming against San Diego in early January.
It all comes down to the primary question -- will BYU even make the tournament in the first place? They are an intriguing profile, due to some solid wins, but quite a few losses. The Cougars played a brutal non-conference schedule, with games against Iowa State, Wichita State, UMass and Oregon. They lost all four games, but not by much. On the flip side, they hold wins over Stanford and Texas.
To really prove that they belong in the tournament, the Cougars can't slip up anymore in WCC play. They opened the conference with two straight losses to Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. They'll need wins against Saint Mary's and Gonzaga to help pad the resume a bit. If they do, they will be the No. 12 seed that the No. 5 seeds dread facing.
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