After a great win over Pac-12 foe Utah in the first round of the NIT, the Boise State men’s team would set off for Champaign, Illinois to face the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Coming in to the game, the six seeded Broncos were faced with a task they had never accomplished: beat a team from the Big Ten conference.
With the likes of two key starters missing the game in James Reid and David Wacker, the Broncos entered the game short-handed.
Chandler Hutchison started the game exactly like he did against Utah scoring six of the Broncos first eight points. Nick Duncan also showed off his ability to score making four three’s in the first half.
The first half featured three lead changes that ultimately saw the Broncos come out on top.
Halftime: Boise State 34, Illinois 33. Duncan and Hutchison lead Boise State with 12 points apiece.
— Dave Southorn (@davesouthorn) March 21, 2017
The second half began with the two teams playing “call and answer.” When Utah would hit a shot, the Broncos would answer on the other end. This was the case up until the 9:22 mark.
The Illini went on an 8-0 run giving them a seven point lead. As the game progressed, the Illini’s lead perpetually grew. Their largest lead (15) also happened to be the final score, 71-56.
Curtain Call for Boise State Seniors
After the Broncos lost their quarterfinals match up against the San Diego State Aztecs in the Mountain West tournament, their future was unclear. Would we get to see Nick Duncan and James Reid suit up again in the orange and blue?
The Answer… Yes! Once the team was selected to play in the NIT, they beat the three seeded Utah Utes on their home floor. Their next task would be another rode game against the Illinois Fighting Illini.
The Broncos loss to the Illini was indeed the last ride for Boise State seniors Nick Duncan and James Reid.
Duncan has played a pivotal role in the Leon Rice era. His accolades speak for themselves:
🏀86 wins (2nd)
🏀250 3-PT FG made (4th)
🏀1,141 points (14th)
…later, @nickkduncan put together one heck of a career.
(Rank in BSU history) pic.twitter.com/QQcGJhfB4j
— Jay Tust (@KTVBSportsGuy) March 21, 2017
James Reid sadly was not available for the game against the Fighting Illini. He was under concussion protocol. Nevertheless, he will be remembered for what he brought to the blue and orange: Hustle, Energy, and an electrifying three ball.
It's been my pleasure. I'm excited to watch this program continue to grow with you!!
Thank you for everything.#BleedBlue
— James Reid (@55JamesReid) March 21, 2017
After James Webb III declared early for the draft, it was unclear what the Boise State men’s basketball team would look like the next season.
With so many questions circling around the minds of Bronco Nation alike, the team had answers:
A reliable leader and scorer in Chandler Hutchison, two seniors ready to contribute and a handful of new faces who stepped up and manned tough positions.
Beating the Odds
When the Mountain West pre-season men’s basketball predictions came out, the Broncos were slotted at fifth in the league.
For a portion of the season, however, the Broncos held on to first place in the Mountain West.
When the season ended, the Broncos finished third in the Mountain West standings.
Maintaining the 20 Win Season Pattern
Leon Rice has been with Boise State since the 2010-2011 season. In the course of eight seasons with the Broncos, Rice has accomplished at least twenty wins every year except in 2012.
This year the Broncos, once again, accomplished that prestigious accolade.
They finished the season at 20-12.