Here is a quick preview of the big matchup tonight between the University of Utah and Boise State University.
When: Tonight at 8:00pm MST
Where: Taco Bell Arena
Television: CBSSN - CableOne: 332 and 410 (HD); DirecTV: 221; DISH: 158
KenPom Offensive Rank: 139
KenPom Defensive Rank: 79
KenPom Offensive Rank: 16
KenPom Defensive Rank: 146
Last December, Boise State ran into a buzzsaw when they made the trek to Salt Lake City. Utah shot 67.5% from the floor on the way to a 76-55 win over the Broncos. It was an emotional night for the Utes who were honoring the late, great Rick Majerus, and Drmic and Elorriaga combined for three points. Definitely not a recipe for success for this offense.
Two undefeated teams will take to the hardwood and this game will go a long way to uncovering just how things have progressed for both teams. For Boise State, just how good is this team? So far, they haven't played any high-quality opponents. Utah will be a better barometer by having better athletes if nothing else. For Utah, how good is this team after turning over nearly half of their roster?
A couple of days ago, I answered a few questions for TornBySports.com. You can see the article HERE, but I have posted the questions below for your reading enjoyment.
What are Boise State’s expectation for this season?
Boise State Mens Basketball has unprecedented expectations this year: an NCAA Tournament Berth and to challenge for the MWC Title. The fact that there are any expectations for the basketball team is a testament to Coach Leon Rice, his staff, and the players who have taken this program from obscurity to national relevance. I think both an NCAA Berth and a challenger for the MWC crown are realistic and likely. They will also have the opportunity against Utah and the upcoming game against Kentucky at Rupp Arena to move themselves higher on the national stage.
What would you define as the style of play Boise State uses?
Boise State plays an uptempo, four guard style of offense that focuses on quick passing, penetrating gaps and kicking the ball to open shooters. On defense, Boise State will most likely matchup in man-to-man.
Who are the top three contributors for the team this season?
- Anthony Drmic – The Aussie who is known to ESPN broadcasters as the Drmicologist can beat you inside and out. He is usually matched up with the opposite team’s power forward, showing his versatility that will make him a legitimate NBA prospect next year.
- Derrick Marks – Marks is a talented guard out of Chicago. He utilizes penetration and an adept mid-range game to generate most of his offense but can also get hot from outside. He has killer instinct and can go off at any moment.
- Jeff Elorriaga – Boise State’s third leading scorer didn’t score a single point against Idaho. He’s a tremendous defender and the ultimate glue guy. Oh, he is also shooting 68.4% from beyond the arc.
Six games into the season, what have you learned about this team?
This team can score… a lot. Boise State currently leads the nation in scoring, averaging 102.0 ppg. Defense can be an issue, but no team should rely on just outscoring the Broncos as a game plan.
If the Utes are to stop Boise State, what is the one thing they must do?
Before the recent game against the University of Idaho, I would have told you that Boise State is vulnerable if you take away their ability to get open looks from behind the three point arc. Idaho’s game plan was to take away those looks and force the Broncos to score in the paint. Well, Boise State only made two three-point field goals and still scored 98 points!!!
Seeing that Boise State is proficient at scoring even with a low output from the outside, I now think Utah needs to dominate the boards in order to win. With a four guard lineup and a post player who is by no means a "banger" nobody expects Boise State to outrebound their opponents. The goal for them, however, is to keep the deficit reasonable. If Loveridge and Wright put up strong rebounding performances for the Utes, it could be a long game for the Broncos.
What are your expectations for the game? Prediction?
I hope Utah fans haven’t let their rise to the Pac-12 alter their perceptions of quality opponents. Personally, I think the Utah-Boise State basketball series is one of the best, budding non-conference rivalries in the west. Since 2010, the teams have traded victories back-and-forth, and last year’s hiccup against Utah most likely cost Boise State a seed or two during the NCAA Tournament. For the years to come, the rivalry will only intensify with Utah’s addition of the highly-touted Isaiah Wright from Boise’s Borah High School.
No disrespect to Utah, but it seemed like Boise State overlooked Utah last year coming off a tremendous upset victory over Creighton. I doubt that happens again this year and look for Boise State to remain undefeated. Boise State 89-83.