March Madness is nearly here. And for the Boise State men’s basketball team, it appears another Mountain West season is going to come down to the wire.
A loss to Nevada last Wednesday may have knocked the Broncos down a notch, but the goal of winning the Mountain West is still very much in sight.
First things first: securing a first-round bye in the upcoming Mountain West tournament.
Boise State has three regular season games left on the schedule. The Broncos–currently in third place–will need to finish in the top five to get one of the coveted byes. A win Saturday at home against San Jose State will go a long way in helping Boise State achieve that goal.
Sitting two games behind the Broncos are three teams with seven conference losses. Fresno State has the weekend off while New Mexico and San Diego State are both on the road (against Wyoming and Colorado State, respectively). If the Bulldogs or Aztecs were to lose and the Broncos win, Boise State would lock up the bye.
All told, at least one win in their final three games would lock up a bye. Next week, the Broncos host Fresno State on Tuesday on Senior Night. They then finish up the regular season a week from Saturday at Air Force.
The Broncos are also only one game back of first-place. Continuing to win–with the proverbial help from others–could help Boise State in earning a league title.
As important as the regular season is, the Mountain West tournament will be the true test. Barring an outside miracle, the Mountain West will only get one team into the big dance this season so playing well heading into the tournament is a must.
Duncan gets hot, Hutchison keeps producing
Senior Nick Duncan, he of the 234 career three-pointers, has found his found his rhythm on the offensive end as of late. He knocked down five 3’s against Nevada, ending with a season-high 19 points. Not enough can be said about his leadership and team play this season, but it’s good to see him knocking down threes again. It’s no secret that his shooting will be important as the Broncos enter the stretch run.
Junior Chandler Hutchison, meanwhile, continues to grow. He dropped 19 points against Nevada, adding eights assists and six rebounds.
Hutchison’s all-around game has always been an asset in his career at Boise State and this season has been no different. He is averaging 18 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and should be under strong consideration for Mountain West Player of the Year.
Next up: San Jose State Spartans
Saturday afternoon sees the Broncos host the Spartans of San Jose State. The Spartans (7-8, 14-12), under former Boise State assistant Dave Wojcik, have won five of their last seven games. They average 73 points per game and shoot 44.3% from the field.
Brandon Clarke of the Spartans is one of the top players in the Mountain West. Clarke leads the team with 18.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He is shooting 59.6% from the field.
The only other player averaging double digits in points is Ryan Welage. Welage drops 12.8 points per game while shooting 34% from three-point range.
Boise State defeated the Spartans 75-65 just over a month ago in San Jose. Tip off is set for 2 pm (MDT) at Taco Bell Arena.