Boise State is inching toward a potential NCAA Tournament at-large bid, riding a three-game Mountain West winning streak. The Broncos are playing some of their best basketball and welcome a top 25-caliber team into Taco Bell Arena on Saturday while sporting a special look.
Suffice it to say, the matchup against Colorado State (6 p.m., KBOI 670 AM, no TV), in which the home team will wear new black uniforms, is one of the Broncos' most anticipated games in recent years.
"It's going to be a neat situation," Boise State coach Leon Rice said. "Our guys are excited to play, the blackout, the uniforms are going to look good and everything. When it's all said and done, it's about us competing against a really good Colorado State team."
Boise State's ticket office reported that nearly 10,500 tickets had been sold as of 5 p.m. Friday. Attendance has exceeded 10,000 twice this season at Taco Bell Arena - Dec. 14 against LSU (11,210) and Jan. 16 against New Mexico (10,420).
The Rams (22-6, 9-4) are well aware of what is awaiting them at a place where the Broncos (19-8, 7-6) are 12-1 this season, with the only loss coming in overtime to New Mexico, now ranked No. 14. Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy was Idaho's head coach from 1990-93, during which he coached the Vandals against two of the three largest crowds ever at Taco Bell Arena.
"I'm sure it will be that atmosphere, (this) game's so important to everybody," Eustachy told The Rocky Mountain Collegian.
After the Broncos won only three Mountain West games last season, they have the opportunity to earn a big win and guarantee at least a .500 finish in a conference rated No. 2 in the RPI.
"Definitely, it's a different type of energy hopefully we can put on a good show with the black jerseys," Boise State guard/forwardAnthony Drmic said.
The contest offers Boise State a chance to put together a better showing than the last time it played Colorado State - a 77-57 loss Jan. 30 in Fort Collins. The Rams, who led by as much as 26, pulled down 14 offensive rebounds in the win. Their rebounding margin of plus-12.7 per game is No. 1 in the nation.
Boise State will be aided by the presence of guards Jeff Elorriaga, who missed the Jan. 30 game with a concussion, and Derrick Marks, who only played nine minutes while battling the flu. Elorriaga has 46 points in his last three games, and Marks has 24 assists.
NCAA BUBBLE WATCH
Win or lose, the Broncos should see a boost in their RPI ranking Monday (currently 47th) after Saturday's game against Colorado State (No. 15).
Here is how some other bubble teams' resumes compare to Boise State:
Boise State (47) - 19-8, 7-6 conference; 6-6 vs. RPI top 100; 80th strength of schedule
Ole Miss (56) - 21-7, 10-5 conference; 5-6 vs. RPI top 100; 123rd strength of schedule
Baylor (64) - 17-11, 8-7 conference; 4-9 vs. RPI top 100; 35th strength of schedule
Virginia (73) - 20-8, 10-5 conference; 7-2 vs. RPI top 100; 111th strength of schedule
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn