BYU notebook: Bracketology still has Cougars in the tournament

Published: Monday, Feb. 27 2012 1:30 p.m. MST

Notre Dame forward Scott Martin, left, Eric Atkins, Jack Cooley, Jerian Grant head to the bench during a timeout in an NCAA men's college basketball game Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012 in South Bend, Ind.

Associated Press

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PROVO — Despite BYU's loss at Gonzaga last week, ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi still considers the Cougars to be an NCAA Tournament team.

According to Lunardi's latest edition of Bracketology released Monday, BYU is a No. 12 seed in the Big Dance, playing No. 5 Notre Dame, in Albuquerque. The winner would likely meet No. 4 Florida, the same team that knocked the Cougars out of the tournament a year ago.

According to the NCAA's latest RPI ratings, BYU is No. 49, down from No. 46 last week.

The No. 3 seeded Cougars will face either No. 6 San Diego vs. No. 7 Pepperdine in the West Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinals on Friday (9 p.m., MST, ESPNU) at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

A win would propel BYU to a showdown against No. 2 Gonzaga in the semifinals on Saturday night.

The Cougars are looking forward to a possible rematch with the 'Zags — as well as a potential championship showdown against No. 1 seed Saint Mary's, which defeated BYU twice during the regular season.

"We have the chance to play two teams that beat us in conference play," said senior Charles Abouo. "That's what you want. For us to get where we want to be, we have to be able to beat those teams. We got embarrassed by (Saint Mary's) twice, and we can't wait for the opportunity to match up against them and Gonzaga and all the other teams that we could possibly face."

"It's awesome," guard Brock Zylstra said of perhaps getting another crack at the Gaels. "You lose twice to a team, and it's not like they were close games. They were pretty big beatings on us. We know we can play with them and we can beat them. It's something we're looking forward to. If we play our game, we have a chance to win."

BACK TO THE ORLEANS: Though this is BYU's first WCC Tournament, the Cougars have played a number of games at the Orleans Arena in recent years.

In 2009, when Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo were sophomores, BYU defeated Nevada, 110-104, then whipped Nebraska, 88-66, the next night as part of the Las Vegas Classic at the Orleans.

In 2007, the Cougars played a pair of top 10 teams in the Las Vegas Invitational at Orleans Arena. BYU upset No. 6 Louisville, 78-76, then fell to No. 1 North Carolina, 73-63, the following night.

ZYLSTRA'S SLUMP OVER? Going into last Saturday's regular-season finale against Portland, Zylstra had made just 4-of-31 shots from 3-point territory in his previous nine games. Against the Pilots, Zylstra buried 4-of-8 3-pointers.

"It's good to see the ball go in," he said. "It just gives you confidence."

ALL-TIME WINNERS: In terms of the number of wins played in at BYU, Abouo is No. 2 all-time (111), trailing the leader, Jimmer Fredette (112), by one. Jackson Emery (106) is No. 3 on the list, followed by Hartsock (105), and Jonathan Tavernari (103).

WCC HONORS TO BE ANNOUNCED: The WCC is scheduled to announce its all-conference honors Tuesday.

The awards include player of the year, coach of the year, and newcomer of the year. The league will also announce a 10-man all-conference team and a five-man all-freshman squad.

The WCC's nine coaches participated in the voting. The media was not invited to participate.

BYU BROADCASTING IN LAS VEGAS: BYUtv is broadcasting eight games at the WCC Tournament, beginning Thursday, including six women's games.

Only one of those games will involve the Cougars — the women's semifinals that features No. 2 seed BYU on Saturday afternoon.

email: jcall@desnews.com

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