Before the season, the mere suggestion that the Boise State men's basketball team would qualify for the NCAA Tournament seemed preposterous.
There was a better chance the Broncos would finish last in the rough-and-tumble Mountain West than they'd be sweating out Selection Sunday, glued to their seats and hoping to see Boise State pop up on the bracket.
These Broncos had other thoughts. They even wrote them down in private.
"That's the goal for every team around the country every year," sophomore wing Anthony Drmic said.
Said classmate Derrick Marks: "Coming into this fall, we knew we were going to be a more experienced team. As everybody saw last year, toward March we were a better team. We know we can come in and make some noise."
Five weeks from Selection Sunday (March 17), the Broncos are certainly making noise.
After Saturday night's 68-61 victory against Wyoming at Taco Bell Arena, Boise State is firmly on the bubble - exciting new territory for a program that has never made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection. Its previous five tournament appearances, including its last in 2008, came from winning a conference tournament and earning an automatic berth.
The victory moved Boise State to 16-7 overall and 4-5 in the Mountain West, consistently ranked as the No. 2 or No. 3 conference in the nation. [0x0b]
The league seems assured of getting four berths in the NCAA Tournament, matching its all-time high (set in 2010 and matched last season).
Can Boise State become No. 5 and deliver a most unexpected tournament berth in coach Leon Rice's third season?
"We've got so much work to do and there's so much that you can't control that it doesn't even matter," Rice said. "The work we have to do, and we know what it is, is the only thing we can control."
The work Boise State needs to do - finish at .500 or better in the Mountain West.
The work continued Saturday, in the first game of the second half of conference play. The Broncos took a small step, holding off Wyoming's second-half challenge to earn a sweep of the season series with the Cowboys.
It was, essentially, a must-win game in the quest to finish .500 or better in the Mountain West, which means it was, essentially, a must-win game for the Broncos' NCAA Tournament hopes.
Boise State began the day No. 54 in the RPI -and before I bore you with all the numerical calculations, just know that puts them on the bubble.
Instead, let's focus on the remaining Mountain West schedule. Even if the Broncos maintain that their focus is completely on next week's game at New Mexico.
Of the Broncos' seven remaining league games, four are at home (Air Force, Nevada, Colorado State and San Diego State) and three are on the road (New Mexico, Fresno State and UNLV).
Are there four more victories in there?
Can the Broncos take care of business at home, where they are 10-1 on the season?
Even if they get to .500 in league play will it be enough or will the Broncos need at least one victory at the Mountain West conference tournament in Las Vegas? Will the committee consider their 0-3 record without Jeff Elorriaga?
"We can't think about that right now. We have to get those big wins and hope for the best at the end of the season," Drmic said.
With five weeks to go, the Broncos are better positioned than anyone could have imagined. For the first time since Jan. 2, the Broncos played with their full roster - having, to steal a phrase from Rice, "weathered the storm" of injuries and illness and suspensions that limited them throughout January.
At full strength, the Broncos seem capable of competing with every team in the league.
It's another statement that would have seemed preposterous a few months ago.