San Diego State and BYU: Are they National Championship Contenders?

Joe BlairContributor IFebruary 25, 2011

LAS VEGAS - MARCH 11:  Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young University Cougars reacts during the team's quarterfinal game against the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs during the Conoco Mountain West Conference Basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center March 11, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fredette scored 45 points in the Cougars' 95-85 victory.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

San Diego State and BYU have taken the college basketball world by storm. Both teams started the season unranked and now find themselves ranked in the top-10 and battling for a Mountain West Conference title. But do they have a legitimate shot  at a National Championship?

As it stands right now both teams would receive either a two or three seed in the big dance, but both teams combined have only played one ranked team besides each other (BYU beat Arizona 87-65 on Dec. 11.)

San Diego State: RPI-4 SOS-37

SDSU is a team that is heavily reliant on their big men Kawhi Leonard (15 points per game/10 rebounds per game) and Malcom Thomas (11 points per game/8 rebounds per game).In addition, they have D.J. Gray running the offense from the point, scoring 12 points per game but only averaging 3.5 assists per game which is not what you would like to see from a starting point guard.

One of SDSU’s biggest statistical upsides is being 12th in the nation in points per possession at 1.14. They are also 15th in the nation in offensive efficiency and have a respectable 1.26 assist to turnover ratio. Statistically SDSU is a top team offensively except they lack the three-ball, shooting only 35% from deep.

On the defensive side of the ball SDSU holds opponents to a very impressive 39% from the field. Additionally they hold their opponents to only .92 points per possession which is top 20 in the nation. SDSU also holds their opponents to a low offensive efficiency rate.

Based on statistics, SDSU is definitely going to be an elite competitor for the National Championship come March.


As well we all know, BYU has probably the best shooter in the country in their point guard Jimmer  Fredette. Fredette is averaging a ridiculous 27 points per game and just over 4 assists per game and definitely has the ability to individually lead his team to victory (he has scored 40+ twice this year. To go along with Fredette BYU has two other players averaging over 10 points per game in Jackson Emery and Brandon Davies. 

BYU’s biggest concern on offense is their reliance on taking jump shots and lack of size inside. BYU is last in the Mountain West 2pt field goal distribution percentage, which means that they rely heavily on burying the triples.

Another problem is BYU’s reliance on one player, Jimmer Fredette. Even so, BYU is still top 10 in both offensive efficiency and points per possession, meaning that they can score with the best of them.

When it comes to tournament time, the Cougars is going to need to ride Jimmer offensively, if they want to make a championship run.

BYU has a top defense to go along with their fun-to-watch offense. They are top 20 in both defensive points per possession and defensive efficiency. One of their weaker points on defense is opponent field goal percentage, where they rank 50; this is still a solid rank.

BYU can go as far as Jimmer Fredette will carry them in the tournament. I would not be surprised to see them lose in the first round or take home the championship.