Boise State basketball has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance this year with new coach Leon Rice - the anti-Graham - and La'Shard Anderson - the anti-Thomas. And all that good groundwork gets a serious test tonight when Utah State pays a visit.
Will you be attending the game? Let me know in the comments. Want to know some keys to winning? I'll give you one after the jump. Is this the biggest game in Boise State basketball history? If the Statesman says so. Read on.
Games this week:
vs. Utah State, tonight, 8:15 MT (liveblog here at OBNUG)
vs. Nevada, Saturday, 8:30 MT, WAC Sports Network
Follow the game with OBNUG's Boise State basketball liveblog
If you can't make it down to Taco Bell Arena tonight, have no fear. I can't either. And that's why I'm hosting a Boise State basketball liveblog here on OBNUG. Nick and I will be typing away throughout the game with updates, reaction, anecdotes, LOST theories - really, anything goes. Join us at 8:00 for pregame and 8:15 for actual game.
A reminder post will go up this afternoon, so you won't be able to use the "I forgot" excuse. ("Washing my hair" excuse still valid.)
Utah State @ Boise State game preview
Found on ESPN this week (HT: bsu415):
Tussle at the Top
Thursday -- Utah State at Boise State: Utah State has dominated the WAC since Stew Morrill arrived at Logan, Utah, and Morrill has led the Aggies to the fourth-best winning percentage (.746) in the country over the past 11 seasons. Tai Wesley is the "go-to guy" for Utah State, while Boise State counters with Robert Arnold, who has scored in double figures in 13 of 16 games this season. La'Shard Anderson is also a Bronco to watch.
While that last sentence may be a terrible understatement, the point here is that ESPN knows Boise State basketball exists. Mission accomplished, Leon Rice.
And if ESPN knows Bronco basketball exists, you would hope that Treasure Valley residents would, too. Rice has not been shy about asking for a big crowd for tonight's game. The high mark in attendance this year was the 4,500 who showed up on a Sunday for a Long Beach State visit back when the Broncos were 6-0. What kind of turnout can Boise State expect tonight? Well, Utah State is better than LBSU, there is no Boise State football to serve as a distraction, and Parks and Rec doesn't return to the NBC Thursday night lineup for another week. Provided the OBNUG liveblog doesn't keep too many people at home (it won't), I'd say topping the 4,500 total is completely reasonable.
So let's say that Bronco Nation packs the house tonight. Would that make this game a must-win for Leon Rice and Boise State? In other words, is tonight's game the best shot for Rice to win back fans?
That is the theory being floated around talk radio, but I'm going to disagree. Bronco basketball was a hot topic when the team started 6-0. They lost game No. 7 in front of a big home crowd. Window closed? Hardly. A month later, the Broncos are back on top and a hot topic once again.
Leon Rice has a much longer leash with fans than Greg Graham did. If Boise State loses tonight, there are still opportunities to reclaim that big game feel - Boise State visits Utah State, the WAC tournament, a postseason tournament. I do not feel that Bronco basketball is on as thin of ice anymore.
That said, I'd sure like for them to win tonight.
OK, enough proselytizing. Here's some actual analysis:
Boise State defense: 18.3 turnovers/game (WAC high)
Utah State offense: 11.6 turnovers/game (WAC low)
If the Broncos can get 15 or more turnovers, I say this one swings in BSU's favor. And keep in mind, this is coming from a guy who knows very little about basketball.
Boise State vs. Nevada: Avenge us!
Nevada is not very good this year, which will happen when the majority of your scoring leaves for the NBA. The Wolf Pack are 4-12 and mediocre or bad in almost all important statistical categories. So get ready to live vicariously through the basketball team as they exact some revenge for this year's Nevada loss.
The game will be the first one with a TV broadcast - if you can consider the WAC Sports Network as a TV broadcast. Just keep Dick Tomey away from the booth and we'll all be fine. Tip is at 8:30 on Saturday night.
Boise State NCAA tournament update
It's mid-January, and bracketologists need to start earning their pay. Here are some early predictions for where the Broncos might end up:
- No. 15 Boise State vs. No. 2 San Diego State - Joe Lunardi, ESPN
- No. 12 Boise State vs. No. 5 Washington - Chris Dobbertean, SB Nation
Lunardi's pick is predicated on Boise State winning the WAC, and Dobbertean's probably is, too. Both guys have the Broncos and USU in the tourney.
Will you be following the game tonight?
How 'bout it? Do you have tickets to tonight's game? Do you have plans to follow along here at OBNUG? Let me know in the comments.