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ESPN: Wyoming men’s basketball currently in ‘First Four Out’ for NCAA Tournament

Wyoming men's basketball forward Jeremiah Oden shoots the ball during the Cowboys' 84-69 win over San Jose State earlier this season at Arena-Auditorium in Laramie. (University of Wyoming Athletics)

Wyoming men’s basketball is beginning to have some déjà vu.

At 15–3 overall, the Cowboys are on their best start to a season since the last time they made the NCAA Tournament in 2014-15. Also at 15–3, national media is beginning to take note of the Pokes’ hopes to repeat the feat — and how likely it is to happen.

ESPN “bracketologist” Joe Lunardi, a longtime fixture of the network’s college basketball coverage, as of Wednesday afternoon has Wyoming listed as one of his “First Four Out” of programs missing the NCAA Tournament beginning in March. That means that under his projections, Lunardi believes that the Cowboys are (narrowly) on the wrong side of the March Madness “bubble” and can bump up or tank down their stock dependent on future play.

UW is the third-placed program of the four teams along with, in order, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Michigan. Lunardi’s current “Last Four In” of the NCAA Tournament — the other side of the tourney bubble — currently consists of TCU, North Carolina, Florida and Oregon, meaning those teams are the ones the Cowboys are hypothetically chasing.

Wyoming snapped a six-game winning streak with a 65–62 loss Tuesday night at Boise State, of which the Broncos are on a 13-game winning run of their own and are squarely in Lunardi’s latest fully-projected bracket (released Monday) as a No. 11 seed. Analytics slide fairly positively for the Pokes as they are currently ranked 32nd in the NCAA Evaluation Tool rankings — a guide used by the selection committee to determine tournament seeding — and 55th in KenPom, a commonly-cited college basketball analytics site.

Wyoming returns to the court at 4 p.m. Friday at Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colorado.