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Boise State basketball enters the fray, begins east coast gauntlet with Clemson

Despite all the noise surrounding the football program, Leon Rice’s crew has started 2-0 and is looking to make a statement over the Thanksgiving holiday.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round Sacramento Practice Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The football program is going through its own identity crisis.

Perhaps, we should look to the continuity and steady progression that the Boise State men’s basketball program has undergone during the last decade.

The process wasn’t microwaved and, despite calls to prematurely fire Leon Rice, the athletic department trusted his vision.

Now, the Broncos are scheduling top-tier opponents (considering their place in the college basketball landscape) and being invited to some of the best early-season tournaments in the sport.

The Past

The Broncos started off their season with a tune up game against a rather solid Vanguard team that would eventually go on to upset nationally-ranked College of Idaho. However, this game did count towards the Broncos official record. In other years, they have started with what was essentially an exhibition game that wouldn’t apply to their record in March

Boise State (1-0) 89 - Vanguard 55

In the preseason, a bout with San Francisco out of the West Coast Conference was circled as a tricky test to start out the season. Even though both teams were still ironing out some things, the game lived up to the billing and gave the Broncos a nice, real-time opportunity to close out a game in front of the Bronco faithful.

Boise State 63 (2-0) - San Francisco 58

The Dons are currently #86 in KenPom.

The Present

Kudos to athletic director Jeramiah Dickey for getting ACC-member Clemson to agree to a home-and-home. Going from Idaho to South Carolina and vice versa is not what athletic directors typically look for early in a college basketball season, but with the Broncos getting set to play in the ESPN Events Invitational, Dickey recognized opportunity.

The Tigers have a 3-0 record by way of some not-so-easy opponents.

W vs. Winthrop 78-56 (#149 in KenPom)

W vs. UAB 77-76 (#96 in KenPom)

W vs. Davidson 68-65 (#127 in KenPom)

This Sunday afternoon battle will be between two top-60 KenPom teams and could be used as a talking point when Selection Sunday comes around four months from now.

The Future

On Thursday, November 23rd, the Broncos will begin their participation in the ESPN Events Invitational.

This year the tourney will consist of the following teams with their KenPom ranking to contextualize the brutality of this year’s field:

Boise State Broncos - Mountain West Conference (#59)

Butler Bulldogs - Big East Conference (#76)

Florida Atlantic Owls (FAU) - Conference USA (#45)

Iowa State Cyclones - Big 12 Conference (#22)

Penn State Nittany Lions - Big Ten Conference (#75)

Texas A&M Aggies - SEC (#17)

VCU Rams - Atlantic 10 Conference (#100)

Virginia Tech Hokies - ACC (#62)

Boise State’s opening matchup will be with the Hokies at 6:00 p.m. Mountain Time on Thursday, November 23rd. The game will be televised on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.