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Boise State vs. Oregon hoops preview: Broncos look for much-needed victory

The #24th ranked Ducks come to town Saturday to Taco Bell Arena. BSU has struggled against ranked teams this season, and eyes a marquee victory this weekend.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday evening's matchup against Oregon could be one of the most important games of the season for the Broncos. Boise State is crawling its way through the toughest non-conference schedule in school history, but has yet to snatch a signature win. Up to this point, BSU's top win this season was on a neutral court over UC Irvine. The Anteators currently rank 124th on KenPom, and Boise State's season-opening loss to Montana (3-4) does not help the Broncos by any means.

In comparison to recent Mountain West history, last year's Colorado State team won 27 games but was controversially left out of the big dance. CSU had the highest RPI of a team to ever miss the tournament and was snubbed mainly due to the fact that the Rams did not have a quality non-conference victory.

Unfortunately for Boise State, if it is unable to pull out a 'W' against the #24 Ducks on Saturday, the Broncos might have to rely on winning the Mountain West tournament to reach the NCAA tournament. The tournament selection committee seems to have increased its attention on strong non-conference victories and bad non-conference defeats more than ever. As a result, Boise State is aware that Saturday's matchup could shape its season.

Game Info

Matchup - Oregon Ducks @ Boise State Broncos in Boise, Idaho, 7:00 PM Eastern, Taco Bell Arena
Radio/TV/Stream - Radio: Bronco Radio Network, 670 AM KBOI, TV: CBS Sports Network
Vegas - Boise State 3.5-pt favorites according to OddsShark
Win/Loss records - Oregon 7-1, Boise State 6-4
KenPom rankings - Oregon 30th, Boise State 75th
Head coaches - Oregon: Dana Altman (sixth season with school, 540-301 career record, 11 career NCAA tournament appearances)
Boise State: Leon Rice (sixth season with school, 108-67 record, two NCAA tournament appearances)

History

Boise State and Oregon have met five teams in school history. The Broncos have yet to defeat the Ducks, falling in all five matchups, most recently in a 2011 CBI tournament semifinal. Although the 2011 Broncos were one of the better teams in school history, Boise State was unable to climb out of a 11-point deficit at halftime and fell to Oregon 79-71. Robert Arnold and Tre Nichols combined for 40 points but it wasn't enough for the Broncos to advance to the CBI finals.

Projected Starting Lineups

Oregon Ducks

G) Casey Benson, So., 5.9 PPG, G) Dwayne Benjamin, So., 12.6 PPG
F) Dillon Brooks, So., 14.0 PPG, F) Elgin Cook, Sr., 11.8 PPG
F) Chris Boucher, Jr., 12.6 PPG

Boise State Broncos

G) Mikey Thompson, Sr., 10.5 PPG
G) Lonnie Jackson, Sr., 7.2 PPG, G) Anthony Drmic, Sr., 14.6 PPG
F) James Webb III, Jr., 13.4 PPG, F) Nick Duncan, Jr., 12.5 PPG

Injury Report

Oregon's leading scorer, Tyler Dorsey, is questionable with a knee sprain and did not play against Navy in the Pearl Harbor Classic. Dwayne Benjamin is expected to take his place in the starting lineup. Point guard Dylan Ennis, a Villanova transfer who averaged 9.9 points and 3.5 assists per game last season, still has yet to appear in a Ducks game this year. Big man Jordan Bell, a defensive anchor down low for Oregon, is expected to make his season debut Saturday after recovering from a foot injury.

Boise State center David Wacker is questionable due to a sprained left foot. Wacker did not make the trip to Portland and also missed Wednesday's home game against Loyola Marymount.

Keys To Victory

Oregon: Limit the Broncos from deep

The Ducks still have a chip on their shoulder after being outplayed by UNLV at the MGM Grand last Friday. Oregon allowed the Runnin' Rebs to score 30 points off three pointers and trailed by as much as 20 in the second half. Although the Ducks made a late push, the early perimeter shooting by UNLV put Oregon in too deep of a hole.

Boise State lives and dies by the triple. The Broncos are ninth in the country in three point attempts, and are not afraid to rise and fire from anywhere on the court. A hot shooting start by the Broncos could put Oregon into a similar situation that the Ducks faced against UNLV, its only loss this season.

If Boise State sinks more than ten three pointers, the Ducks could be in serious trouble.

Boise State: Grab early momentum, limit scoring runs

Boise State has been competetive in each of its three games against ranked teams this season. However, the Broncos were unable to play a complete 40 minute game, unraveling in the second half in its first game against Arizona and Michigan State. In its second game with Arizona, the Broncos played from behind almost the entirety of the game.

The key to a Broncos upset over Oregon calls for an early lead and avoidance of a second half collapse. Boise State has struggled with lengthy runs by the opposing team this season. In its first game against Arizona, the Broncos allowed the Wildcats to close the game on a 11-4 run. Against Michigan State, Boise State allowed a 19-4 stretch in the second half and in its second game against Arizona BSU gave up a 7-0 and 9-0 spurts as well.

Playing in front of the home fans should help Boise State slow down potential scoring runs by Oregon, and it will be necessary if the Broncos plan on knocking off the Ducks.

What To Expect

A lot is on the line Saturday for both teams. A loss for the Ducks would knock Oregon out of the AP rankings just over a week after cracking the top 15. Boise State has yet another opportunity to score a victory over a ranked team, and without one, the Broncos' tournament resumé takes a major hit.

Earlier in the week, coach Leon Rice said he hoped that Taco Bell Arena would be sold out come Saturday. All of Boise's losses this season have come on the road or a neutral site. A fired up home crowd might provide the spark that the Broncos were missing.