Boise State Bronco coach Leon Rice has walked across the ice cold Boise River and has rode a horse through the BSU campus to sell out Taco Bell Arena for the UNLV and SDSU games. Rice doesn’t need a publicity stunt to fill the house
Chandler Hutchinson the do it all BSU guard has been phenomenal this year for the Bronco’s averaging 20.3, 7.6 rpg, 3.4 apg and 1.3 spg and is one of eight players in NCAA Division I who is leading a team in points, rebounds, assists and steals. He is the leader for MVP of the MW and looking like a first round draft pick in this years 2018 NBA draft.
The Bronco’s are far from being a one trick pony, besides Hutchinson, Chris Sengfelder is playing very well for BSU, he is No. 2 on the team in points 11.3 ppg and rebounds 6.7 rpg through 13 conference games. The senior forward has taken his game to another level in the past month, as well, as he is averaging 15.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in the last five contests. His big body gave UNLV’s dynamic duo of Brandon McCoy and Shukar Juiston trouble in both the games they played but especially at Taco Bell Arena.
Speaking of Taco Bell Arena the Bronco’s are on quite a roll at home this year. With a 13-game winning streak at Taco Bell Arena, Boise State has the longest home winning streak in the Mountain West along with the streak being tied for 11th longest in NCAA Division I. The Broncos’ 13 consecutive home victories ties the school record for the longest home winning streak in a season, joining the 1997-98 team and its 13-0 home record on the season.
Boise State is also an excellent rebounding team and the Pack will have their work cut out for them on the glass. The most consistent stat throughout the season for the Broncos has been their ability to rebound the basketball at an extremely high level. Boise State is No. 9 in NCAA Division I with a +7.7 average rebounding margin.
The Broncos recently out rebounded Utah State last Saturday 35-25 (+10), its 10th game this season out rebounding an opponent by 10 or more.
Speaking of rebounding the Bronco’s have not lost back to back games this season. So the fiery Leon Rice will have his team ready to bounce back from last Saturday’s tough loss in Logan. The Bronco’s like to push the pace and they like to press at times. Utah State took advantage of beating the Bronco’s press at the end of their game for several easy baskets to close out the Bronco’s. Nevada will have to do the same if the game is close.
Rice is a gambler and likes to put pressure on his opponent and get them to turn the ball over for easy buckets. If the game is on the line at the end Nevada can expect a healthy dose of Chandler Hutchinson. His ability to make smart choices at the end of games makes him the perfect closer. He is adept at passing to the right guy, or spotting up for a three or finishing at the rack there isn’t a more consistent closer in the MW. He is the Mariano Rivera of the MW.
Luckily for the Wolf Pack they are a team that has taken on the personality of coach Musselman. The Pack has an rpi of 15, a bpi of 19, a strength of schedule 87, and make no doubt about this team is a lock for the NCAA Tournament. They are playing for seeding not a bid, that is secured. Numbers look good because they play hard, they play smart, and they play Nevada basketball which is scores 83 ppt per game second in the MW.
The Wolf Pack can shoot the rock from deep, making 39.6 percent of their treys (No. 23 in NCAA). They are very good at running opponents of the line as well, their opposition is shooting just 31.0 percent from behind the arc (No. 21 in NCAA).
Caleb Martin, is an example of Nevada toughness. Martin came back and played against SDSU last Saturday surprising many people who expected him to be out at least two weeks if not three, with a lisfranc sprain in his left foot. Martin was only 3-12 for ten points but it isn’t just the point he brings it is his toughness and the Pack fed off that as they blew SDSU out of Lawlor. The Pack treated the Aztecs like they were the SJSU Spartans.
Nevada has four players that are scoring in double figures. Caleb Martin is averaging 19.4 ppts, Cody Martin is averaging 13.4 ppts, Jordan Caroline is averaging 17.1 ppts, and Purdue transfer Kendal Stevens is averaging 13.1 ppts per game. Lindsay Drew is a 6-4 guard that came up an assist short of a triple double Saturday. Nevada can score and BSU likes to run. This should be a game in the mid 80’ to low 90’s unless it goes to overtime which could push the score into the triple digits.
Magpies three keys for the Wolf Pack to win.
1. Nevada must answer Boise State runs and keep the crowd out of it. I have been to many BSU games and have always walked away impressed with how they cheer for their team, Taco Bell can get raucous. The Bronco fans are some of the most respectful fans in the nation but don’t think that being respectful means they are not loud and boisterous it just means in general they are not belligerent.
2. Nevada has to keep the Bronco’s off of the offensive glass and limit second chance opportunities. I have heard coach Musselman preach it to his team many times rebound, rebound, rebound. They must body up, box out, kick out and push it, that is Nevada basketball.
3. The Pack must win the battle of the three point shot. It is a tough task shooting good in a place you only play once a year but to win they must hit the deep ball and defend against the deep ball. Nevada must keep Lexus Williams .463 3ppt and Justinian Jessup .454 3ppts from lighting it up from deep and getting the crowd rolling.
This is the biggest game of the year in MW up to this point. The winner will have a nice win for the end of the year resume. BSU needs this win much worse than Nevada because looking at their metrics leads me to think that they are a bubble team and this win would help them to get off of the bubble. Pack fans enjoy the year the best part of it is in progress.
You read the analysis, now listen to it.