College basketball metrics innovator Ken Pomeroy thinks BYU and Creighton are two teams with the kind of make up it takes to make a deep NCAA tournament run.
"BYU obviously fits that bill, just with their three-point shooting," Pomeroy said on the latest episode of the March Madness 365 podcast when asked for teams outside the usual suspects that can go deep into the tournament. "I think Creighton is another team. People have seen what they've done the last couple of weeks."
Pomeroy's interview with Andy Katz begins about 4 minutes, 50 seconds into the podcast. Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon and BYU's Mark Pope also join this week's pod.
Though the Cougars aren't poised to be a traditional Cinderella — BYU is ranked No. 17 in the latest AP Poll and are the No. 4 team country in kenpom.com's adjusted offensive efficiency rating — they are a team that hasn't gotten much hype until now.
From @JonRothstein, on @BYUbasketball: “The best kept secret in college basketball is officially no longer a secret.” https://t.co/vc4Qpcoloh pic.twitter.com/4uMD6Iy787— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) February 24, 2020
BYU is on an eight-game winning streak with its latest victory coming against No. 3 Gonzaga. The Cougars shot 40.7 percent from three, making 11 and beating the WCC powerhouse 91-78.
"We had veteran guys that played really really hard and really really committed and were spurred on by an unbelievable energy in the gym," BYU's head coach Mark Pope told Katz. "You know, it's a senior-led group and the seniors stepped up and led in their senior-night."
It isn't just seniority that has BYU peaking at just the right time. The Cougars have one ingredient that can propel a team deep into the NCAA tournament — three-point shooting. The top three scorers on BYU — Yoeli Childs (21.2 ppg), Jake Toolson (15.5 ppg) and TJ Haws (14.5 ppg) all shoot over 37 percent behind the three-point line.
Jimmer Fredette was a senior averaging 28.9 points per game the last time BYU reached the Sweet 16 in 2011, its first since 1981
"I think it's almost better that you don't have a Jimmer and you're still successful," Pomeroy said about comparing this BYU squad to the 2010-2011 team. "You have multiple guys that can score, you don't necessarily have one guy that's going to go off for forty and becomes the focus on the game plan."
Pomeroy thinks Dayton is another candidate for a tournament run. The Flyers are second in adjusted offense according to kenpom.com. Creighton is right there as well, clocking in at No. 6.
Kansas ranks No. 1 in adjusted defense and No. 1 overall in Pomeroy's rankings but he labels Gonzaga the "cream of the crop" when measuring offensive dominance.
Nothing tops BYU's run right now though, as the spirit in Provo is as high as ever, according to Mark Pope.
"This fan base is pretty extraordinary. I can not tell you how many people have contacted me," Mark Pope told Katz. "But do you know what happened? 18,000 people came to that game Saturday night, 18,000 people celebrated and probably 10,000 people went home that night and at 1 a.m. played it on their TV and watched the whole thing again."