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BYU’s tournament hopes hinge on three March nights in Las Vegas

Feb 22, 2013, 2:32 AM EST

Saint Mary's College takes on Brigham Young University in Moraga AP

With their three Top 100 victories coming at the expense of Tennessee State and Santa Clara (twice), BYU’s visit to Saint Mary’s was an important one in regards to their NCAA tournament hopes.

BYU lost the game 64-57, and a look at their overall body of work underlines the fact that a win wasn’t going to make up for their meager resume.

Whether or not BYU goes to the NCAA tournament will hinge on three nights in Las Vegas next month (March 8, 9 and 11), regardless of what happens when No. 3 Gonzaga visits Provo next Thursday.

Brandon Davies was productive against Saint Mary’s, scoring 25 points and grabbing nine rebounds to lead the way. But on a night that saw the Gaels limit Tyler Haws to 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting, BYU needed someone else to step up.

That didn’t happen, with no other Cougar scoring more than six points (Nate Austin and Brock Zylstra scored six apiece) and point guard Matt Carlino accounting for just two points on 1-of-5 shooting. Carlino also turned the ball over five times, a number that won’t get it done when facing one of the nation’s best point guards in Matthew Dellavedova.

Overall BYU assisted on nine of their 21 field goals with Davies having four of those assists, and they finished the game with a turnover percentage of 23%. But regardless of the stats that can be used to explain why BYU lost  it’s their resume that matters most.

Without a high-profile non-conference victory BYU wasn’t going to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament with a win over Saint Mary’s, and even with the combination of victories over the Gaels and Gonzaga the Cougars would likely have work to do at the WCC tournament.

Thursday’s result simply solidifies the fact that BYU will need the WCC’s automatic bid if they’re to return to the NCAA tournament.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.