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Boise State concludes non-conference play on a high note, prepares for Mountain West gauntlet

Facing one of the toughest slates in program history, the Broncos enter 2024 with a 9-4 record and zero losses in quads one and two.

NCAA Basketball: ESPN Events Invitational Consolation 2-VCU at Boise State Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, the expectations for this year’s squad were lofty despite losing multiple starters.

A brutal Thanksgiving schedule prevented the Broncos from settling into a rhythm with a handful of new additions to the roster (Roddie Anderson III, Cam Martin, and O’Mar Stanley). Fans swatted aside the fact that no matter how good the pieces look on paper, it takes time for newcomers to gel in a new home.

College basketball is a marathon, not a sprint.

At 9-4, the Broncos are in a better position resume-wise compared to their last two trips to the dance. The most notable difference as we sit here in January?

No bad losses.

Each of the last two years, there have been anchor(s) weighing down Boise State’s resume (Cal-State Bakersfield in 2021, South Dakota State, San Jose State, and Charlotte in 2022).

In 2023, each of the Broncos’ four losses look like this (as of January 5th).

Clemson - 23rd in KenPom, 18th in the NET, Quad 1 loss.

Virginia Tech - 65th in KenPom, 67th in the NET, Quad 2 loss.

Butler - 63rd in KenPom, 62nd in the NET, Quad 2 loss.

Washington State - 71st in KenPom, 60th in the NET, Quad 2 loss.

Head coach Leon Rice has been adamant that despite a not-so-pretty record, these games will prove beneficial come Mountain West play and March.

Battle-tested, the Broncos will face one of the deepest and toughest versions of the Mountain West in quite some time. Namely, the top half of the conference is going to be a bloodbath night in and night out.

Here is what Boise State has to look forward to, starting tonight in San Jose.

(The far right number indicates what NCAA quadrant that opponent would classify as right now)

January 5th - @ San Jose State (7-7) - Q3

January 9th - vs. Colorado State (13-1) - Q1

January 12th - @ Nevada (13-1) - Q1

January 16th - vs. UNLV (7-5) - Q3

January 20th - vs. San Diego State (12-2) - Q1

January 23rd - @ Fresno State (7-7) - Q3

January 27th - vs. Utah State (13-1) - Q1

January 31st - @ New Mexico (12-2) - Q1

February 3rd - vs. Air Force (7-6) - Q4

February 6th - @ Colorado State (13-1) - Q1

February 10th - @ Utah State (13-1) - Q1

February 17th - vs. Fresno State (7-7) - Q4

February 20th - vs. San Jose State (7-7) - Q4

February 24th - @ Wyoming (8-6) - Q3

February 27th - @ Air Force (7-6) - Q3

March 2nd - vs. New Mexico (12-2) - Q2

March 5th - vs. Nevada (13-1) - Q2

March 8th - @ San Diego State (12-2) - Q1

That schedule possesses eight quadrant one opportunities and ten total opportunities within quadrants one and two.

If the Broncos can take care of business against the bottom-half of the Mountain West (not an easy feat), there are plenty of resume-boosting wins if the rest of the contenders do their part and don’t stub their toes in Laramie or Colorado Springs.

Currently, the Mountain West is projected to get four to five bids into the NCAA Tournament. Alas, nearly all of those projections exclude Boise State at the moment. The blue and orange have some work to do in these next two months, but it starts tonight in San Jose with a conference-opener against the Spartans.

Get a win tonight, and ExtraMile Arena should be filled to the brim for next Tuesday’s home date against the nationally-ranked Colorado State Rams.

How do you feel about Boise State’s status come March and within the hierarchy of the Mountain West? Let us know down below!