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Boise State Basketball: Games That Will Define The Season

The Broncos have aspirations of the NCAA Tournament this season, but there are a number of hills to climb before Selection Sunday.

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State Broncos @ Arizona Wildcats, November 19th

The first major test of the season for the Broncos appears in the second week of the season. Sean Miller welcomes Boise State to hostile McKale Center, which is home to the longest active home winning streak in college hoops. Arizona has been the face of the Pac-12 recently, winning eight tournament games in the last three years.

The Arizona Wildcats are reloading this season, as they wave goodbye to four double-digit scorers from its Elite Eight squad of 2014. Returning for 'Zona is senior big man Kaleb Tarczewski and senior guard Gabe York. The duo combined for 18.3 points per game last season and will be responsible for Arizona's success in 2015. Shooting guard Allonzo Trier is an impressive pickup for the backcourt. Trier is a five-star freshman out of Seattle, Washington who can score in bunches.

It's expected that Boise State will be the underdog in this one, but there is enough talent on the Broncos to hang around and make it interesting. This is a fantastic opportunity for Boise to grab a top-25 road win early in the season.

Boise State Broncos - Wooden Legacy Tournament, November 26th - 29th, ESPN Networks

The Broncos will be headed to California for Turkey Day Weekend this year, taking part in the Wooden Legacy Tournament in Anahiem, California. The bracket features five tournament teams (Boise State, Arizona, UC Irvine, Michigan St, Providence) from last season, and the Broncos are slated to battle the Anteaters of UC Irvine Thanksgiving afternoon. UC Irvine made a late push for the tournament last season and nearly knocked off the Louisville Cardinals in the round of 64. Keep an eye out for 7-6 Mamadou Ndiaye. Ndiaye is eight inches taller than any Bronco, and could present problems in the post.

Many expect Michigan State and Arizona to meet in the finals. The Spartans are fresh off another Final Four appearance and have the weapons in place for another postseason run. The backcourt for Michigan State will be experienced with seniors Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes.

Don't pencil out Providence in this bracket. The Friars have participated in the madness in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1990. Ed Cooley's group is still searching for the school's first postseason victory. Superstar Kris Dunn, a junior guard, should make a serious push for the Naismith POY award.

Though the tournament field is impressive, Boise State could do some damage as a dark horse. Scratching out a win against Michigan State or Arizona would be a huge confidence builder in the early going of the season.

Boise State Broncos vs. Oregon Ducks, December 12th, CBS Sports

The Ducks come to town on December 12th. Pegged to finish in the bottom half of the Pac-12 last summer, Oregon surpassed expectations by defeating Oklahoma State in the round of 64 before falling to Wisconsin, the tournament runner-up.

Dana Altman's squad is led by Villanova transfer Dylan Ennis. Ennis averaged 9.9 points per game in 28.1 minutes in 2014, but should expect a heavier workload as the quarterback of his new team.

Dwayne Benjamin (8.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.0 APG) and Elgin Cook (13.0/5.2/1.6) are two senior forwards who have played in the NCAA Tournament every season since they have arrived at Eugene. They won't expect anything different in 2015.

Boise State Broncos @ UNLV Runnin' Rebels, January 27th, CBS Sports

UNLV stumbled last season to its first losing conference record since 1995 but a return near the top of mountain seems probable. Coach Dave Rice continues to bring top talent to Vegas.

In April, five-star center Stephen Zimmerman committed to the Rebels over Kentucky, Arizona, and others. Zimmerman stands at seven feet tall, and was the 11th ranked prospect in the 2015 class, according to Rivals.

Two four-stars are now on campus as well. Shooting guard Jalen Poyser and Derrick Jones Jr. will team up with Zimmerman on a freshman-led core.

The returning talent is minimal, but if Rice's freshmen can mesh together, this could be a very dangerous squad.

Boise State Broncos @ San Diego State Aztecs, February 27th, CBS Sports

A road contest against a conference rival in late February, yes, this will be a decisive game.

These two teams finished knotted for the conference lead last year with 14 wins apiece, and are projected by most to finish 1-2 yet again.

San Diego State returns three starters from a team that won a tournament game last year. Winston Shepard is the star of the group, entering his senior season as a popular MWC Player of the Year pick. Sophomore forward Malik Pope and senior forward Skylar Spencer contribute to a defense that finished second in the country last season in opponent points per game.

There will be big-league stakes in this one, as the victor might go on to win the regular season MWC trophy.