As I noted last night, BYU has more of a claim on a #1 seed right now than Texas does, but there are probably still four teams ahead of the likely Mountain West regular season champs. Regardless, they're in line for no worse than a #2 seed, and they should be no worse than 6th on the S-Curve barring wackiness.
Why is that a big deal? As I also noted last night, this puts BYU in excellent shape to stay in their natural region and play their games in Denver and, if they make it that far, Anaheim. Usually we're talking about the best team in the Pac 10 (or sometimes Gonzaga) fighting to stay out west, not the MWC. However, proximity isn't always enough.
After the selected teams are ranked 1-68 on S-Curve, the committee places them into the bracket one seed line at a time using the S-Curve order. (Review the procedures for a refresher.) The guidelines are general and sometimes difficult to apply for bracket predictions, but two stand out in this case:
- A top priority for the committee is to achieve reasonable competitive balance in each region of the bracket.
- Teams will remain in or as close to their areas of natural interest as possible... If two teams from the same natural region are in contention for the same bracket position, the team ranked higher in the seed list shall remain in its natural region.
The second guideline is easier to satisfy. With the regular season sweep of San Diego State, even a loss in the MWC tournament may leave BYU ranked above the Aztecs on the S-Curve. No other team with Anaheim as its closest region is anywhere close on the S-Curve.
The first guideline (deemed a "top priority") is why it is important for BYU to be one of the top #2 seeds if they are not a #1. (If BYU is a #1 seed, the Denver to Anaheim route is a fait accompli.)
All other #1 seed candidates will hail from east of the Rockies, so the lowest of the four would be relegated to Anaheim. As the committee places teams in each seed line, they look to maintain balance by summing the S-Curve ranks of the teams in each region to ensure that no "severe numerical imbalance" exists.
With the worst #1 seed in Anaheim (and ranked 4th on the S-Curve), a #2 BYU seed ranked 5th or 6th on the S-Curve will go a long way to ensuring the Cougars will not be moved out of the west to ensure balance across the bracket.
Last (but certainly not least for the NCAA), the Denver pod and Anaheim regional are each scheduled for Thursday and Saturday games this year, so there are no concerns about BYU's no Sunday games policy.
Whether there is any real difference in being a #1 seed or a #2 seed is a topic for another post.