The Nevada Wolf Pack will face off against the Boise State Broncos on Wednesday night in a showdown for first place in the Mountain West Conference.
Coming off a victory over Utah State by a score of 77-66 on Saturday, the Wolf Pack have just four games left in the regular season and if they win all four of their games, they would clinch their first regular season conference championship since 2012 when Nevada was in the Western Athletic Conference.
“That’s what every team aspires to do at the beginning of the year”, said Nevada coach Eric Musselman early this week. “You talk about it in the offseason and it’s good to be in a position where you control your own destiny. But we feel like there’s a lot of basketball to be played and we’re playing smore teams that are really well coached and play hard”.
The Wolf Pack are facing a Broncos team that they soundly defeated in Boise last month by a score of 76-57. It was a game in which Nevada held Boise State to 18 points below their season average, forced 13 turnovers and held the Broncos to just 6-of-24 shooting from the three-point line. It was one of the better defensive performance by the Wolf Pack this season.
For the Wolf Pack to get the sweep of the Broncos, they must win the rebounding battle. The Wolf Pack owned the glass in their win against Utah State as they were plus-16 in that category as Cameron Oliver and Jordan Caroline both grabbed ten rebounds apiece in the winning effort on Saturday. They will need that same type of performance on Wednesday as the Broncos are one of the best rebounding team in the conference as they average 40 rebounds a game this season so Nevada must bring their best rebounding effort to defeat Boise State.
Another key point for Nevada to win on Wednesday is that they must have good ball movement at the three-point line. Boise State is one of the best teams at defending the three-point line this season. They are only allowing teams to shoot 32 percent from the arc this season and have only given up 131 three pointers this season which is third lowest in the nation. It is up to the Wolf Pack to have good ball movement to get good looks for players like Marcus Marshall (19 ppg 39 percent 3PT FG%) to hit some threes against Boise State.
Overall, I think this will be a much closer game as opposed to the first meeting last month in Boise. The Broncos struggled on offense that night and I doubt that they will have a repeat performance on Wednesday night. The Broncos have a trio of talented players in guard Paris Austin (13 ppg), forward Chandler Hutchison (18 ppg, 8rpg), and forward Nick Duncan (eight points per game and four rebounds per game) that will keep them in the game but the Wolf Pack have too many weapons on offense for the Broncos to try to contain. Combine that and Nevada’s excellent home record (27-4 under Musselman) and I think the Wolf Pack will pull away with the win on Wednesday night.
When: Wednesday 7pm
Where: Lawlor Events Center
Online: ESPN 3