PROVO — BYU is missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season.
The last time the Cougars failed to go to the NCAAs for three straight years was from 1995-99, when they were shut out of postseason play altogether.
As of Saturday afternoon, BYU (24-10) was projected to receive a bid to the National Invitation Tournament for the third year in a row.
However, it's not a sure thing — the Cougars may not even get into the NIT, depending on the results in the remaining conference tournament championships.
Regular-season conference champions that aren’t invited to the NCAA Tournament are given automatic bids to the NIT. The more automatic bids that are taken by these teams means the number of at-large bids available to teams like BYU shrinks.
So the Cougars could be teetering on the NIT bubble.
Among the teams from leagues that clinched automatic berths to the 32-team NIT field include Middle Tennessee, Wagner, Louisiana Lafayette, UC Davis, Northern Kentucky, UNC Ashville, Vermont, Hampton, Florida Gulf Coast and Rider.
Several more automatic bids were on the line Saturday, depending on the results of conference tournament championship games.
NIT pairings will be unveiled Sunday at 6:30 p.m. MDT on ESPNU.
The NIT is divided into four regions. The last four teams left out of the NCAA Tournament receive No. 1 seeds in the NIT. The four regions are seeded 1-8.
According to most prognosticators, if the Cougars get into the NIT, they will play on the road in the first round.
Here’s a look at some NIT projections. It should be noted that these projections were as of Saturday afternoon and are subject to change based on results Saturday and Sunday:
NYC Buckets.com — No. 6 BYU at No. 3 Utah.
All Things NIT.com — No. 5 BYU at No. 4 Oregon.
DRatings.com: BYU is a No. 5 seed.
RTS Ratings.com — No. 3 BYU vs. No. 6 Boston College.
Best Damn Bracket.com — No. 5 BYU at No. 4 Georgia.
In 2016, BYU received a No. 2 seed and hosted three games, defeating UAB, Virginia Tech and Creighton. The Cougars fell to Valparaiso in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Last season, BYU was a No. 3 seed but got thumped by UT Arlington in the first round at the Marriott Center, 105-89.
The Cougars advanced to the NIT semifinals in 2013 as a No. 3 seed, beating Washington and Mercer at home, then winning at Southern Mississippi. The Cougars lost to Baylor in the semifinals.
DYNAMIC DUO: BYU’s Elijah Bryant and Yoeli Childs have been double trouble for opponents all season.
Childs is the Cougars’ top scorer (18.0 points per game) while Bryant is a close second (17.9 ppg).
Childs earned WCC All-Tournament honors after averaging 25 points per game, including a career-high 33-point outing in a victory over Saint Mary’s. Bryant averaged 21 points per game in Las Vegas.
Both were also named to the All-WCC First Team.
“They’ve been really consistent throughout the year. That’s probably the most impressive thing to me, how good both of them have been all year long,” said BYU coach Dave Rose. “Yoeli and Eli scored in double figures in every game in conference except one. We kind of took that for granted a little bit. It’s a hard thing to do. We’re not the only ones that know they’re pretty good. For those guys to be able to do that night in and night out, that’s quite an accomplishment.”
ROSE IN FIRST PLACE: Rose has been competing with other top coaches in the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge to raise money for the BYU Simmons Center for Cancer Research.
Fans from a number of schools have been voting online for their coaches the past couple of months.
Voting ended Saturday and Rose finished in first place to earn more than $100,000 for the BYU Simmons Center for Cancer Research.