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Religious Rule Likely The Only Reason BYU Played (And Lost To) Duquesne In NCAA Tournament

BYU players walk off the court after a loss to Duquesne.
BYU players walk off the court after a loss to Duquesne.

The “BYU Rule” turned out costly in the Cougars‘ most recent NCAA Tournament run. Entering the Big Dance on the six-line, the team landed a first-round matchup with 11-seed Duquesne.

And despite entering as a heavy favorite on Thursday afternoon, BYU was beaten soundly by LeBron James’s old high school coach.

The underdog came out swinging in that contest, jumping out to an early lead and never looking back. The Cougars failed to score over the first five minutes of action and trailed essentially wire-to-wire (they led 20-19 briefly in the first half before surrendering the lead).

The loss ended BYU’s season with another early tournament exit, and this time, it seems they have a religious rule to blame.

Written in the school policy is the “BYU Rule.”

NCAA rules state that if a university competing in an NCAA championship has a written policy against competition on a particular day for religious reasons, the championship schedule must be adjusted to accommodate that institution. Brigham Young University has a written policy against Sunday play, and therefore will have schedules adjusted to play on Saturday or Monday, even if it involves changing televised or otherwise broadcast events.

The university’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints sponsorship landed the Cougars an exemption for Sunday play, putting them on a Thursday/Saturday rotation in the Big Dance.

The BYU Rule likely cost the Cougars a higher seed.

When looking at the selection committee’s overall rankings, a clear outlier was spotted in BYU. Though they were rated as the No. 17 in the field, they landed a six-seed, which would typically fall to a team in the 21-24 range.

As it turns out, three of the four No. 5 seeds were on the Friday/Sunday rotation. That lone Thursday/Saturday contest saw a later Elite Eight matchup scheduled on Sunday, so the Cougars were pushed to the six-line.

The NCAA didn’t definitively confirm that the “BYU Rule” was the reason for the seeding, but it seemed to play a part.

“Well, [NCAA] Committee Chair Charles McClelland told us that Gonzaga was a No. 6 seed and got moved up because BYU had to be on that Thursday/Saturday rotation because BYU could not play on Sundays,” CBS analyst Clark Kellogg said. “I know that’s not a big difference, but that was part of it.”

Had BYU landed a five-seed, they would’ve faced off against a 12-seed. Instead, they faced the higher 11-seed, and it ended poorly!

The post Religious Rule Likely The Only Reason BYU Played (And Lost To) Duquesne In NCAA Tournament appeared first on BroBible.


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