BYU's anxious status as an NCAA Tournament at-large hopeful has the Cougars handling Sunday differently than any previous season it's been on the so-called bubble.

The tournament "selection show" on CBS starts at 4 p.m. to announce the field of 68 teams, running an hour.

BYU won't meet with any media members until at least 6 p.m., however, and that's also only if the team gets a bid.

Certainly the 23-11 team wouldn't be quite as eager to attend the second-tier NIT for a second consecutive year. There appears to be some bracing for that potential of disappointment.

BYU coach Dave Rose's team missed the NCAA Tournament in his first season (2005-06), and the coach didn't meet with reporters until well into that Sunday night, when the decision was made by NIT officials about who and where the Cougars would play. Chances were very slim that season of getting an NCAA bid.

Players and coaches typically congregate to watch the prelude to March Madness, if they're in the discussion for a bid. They'll do the same this year privately among friends and family.

BYU went to six consecutive NCAA Tournaments, a few times not thrilled about the particular seeding or matchup (remember facing Texas A&M twice in a row?).

Last year wasn't one of those cases to be concerned. BYU was headed to the NIT after a lackluster *second* (corrected) year in the West Coast Conference.

But excitement appears to be tempered right now to some degree.

The program sent out a media release Friday night about the plans. There would be no video or pictures dispersed to local outlets, either. That's the biggest difference from past years. Early in Rose tenure, media watched it live with the team for instant reaction. The past few years (after one season when there was subtle grousing about seeding) the school sent out images of the team's reaction.

Clearly the goal right now is to not set up players for a potential live-time letdown.

Programs handle these things differently across the country.

Some that are agonizingly close to in or out still choose to participate in letting CBS into their watch party via video feed. A BYU official told the Daily Herald on Saturday that Rose's team is not part of that process.

Nebraska, which made a stirring run late in the season, has encouraged Husker fans to show up at the team's sparkling-new arena to share in the drama with them.

"Select players" — presumably star Tyler Haws at least — and Rose will be made available if the Cougars can conjure up a bid.

National analysts continue to forecast BYU's chances as tight, but certainly not hopeless.

BYU lost in the championship game of the West Coast Conference tournament on Tuesday. A win against Gonzaga would've meant an automatic bid. The Cougars found themselves down by 20 points with 13 minutes left when standout point guard Kyle Collinsworth went down with a season-ending knee injury, further convoluting BYU's postseason outlook.

A 10-member committee is isolated in Indianapolis to create the brackets. It includes Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes and WCC commissioner Jamie Zaninovich.

Since losing to GU for the second time in three tries, it's just waiting and watching.

Though it doesn't appear like many "bid stealers" have shown up the last few days. Favorites of conference tournaments — or those already presumed in — have done their respective jobs and helped out BYU. Those that were on bubble haven't made any significant bursts.

As of Saturday, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi — who correctly predicted every team in the tournament last year — had the Cougars as one of the last four in.

In his calculation, that meant playing Dayton in a "First Four" game in — of all places — Dayton, Ohio.

The Dayton Flyers have become the host of the tournament add-on. BYU went there two years ago and defeated Iona in one of the great rallies in school and tournament history. UD happens to be in a good enough position to be considered tournament-worthy. The NCAA has already said it will not change the game site if UD makes the field.

Even leading up to that "First Four" game for BYU — on Selection Sunday a few days prior — the media had more immediate access to the Cougars' reaction of getting included.

But it figures to be a very close call either way, even more so than 2012 by Lunardi's count.

This is the most the Cougars have gone to protect themselves from possibly being caught in the midst of immediate heartbreak.

Based on Lunardi's projections (including teams that won conference tournaments for automatic bids), BYU has faced nine teams that will make the tournament, producing a 5-6 mark. That includes all three meetings against Gonzaga, going 1-2.

jason-franchuk
-- Jason Franchuk covers primarily BYU football and basketball for the Daily Herald. You can connect with him by email at jfranchuk@heraldextra.com or by following him on Twitter at

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