Well, they should be in.
The Boise State Broncos punctuated their breakthrough season with a 69-65 victory Saturday against San Diego State before a raucous crowd at Taco Bell Arena.
With the win, the Broncos (21-9, 9-7 Mountain West) should have punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament - no matter what happens in next week's conference tournament.
We won't know for sure for another week. Won't know until the 10-member selection committee completes its work and the brackets are revealed on Selection Sunday. Only then will we find out whether the Broncos have done enough to earn their first-ever at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
But, from this vantage point, the Broncos should get their dancing shoes ready.
Boise State, of course, would rather not spend Sunday agonizing over the brackets as they pop up on the television screen. The Broncos would rather earn the invitation on their own by winning the tournament title. Or, at least, cement their case with a few more victories.
"We don't want to keep it in other people's hands," coach Leon Rice said. "We'll keep fighting."
"We're going to Vegas to win games," said sophomore wing Anthony Drmic, a likely first-team all-conference pick.
But even if they don't, even if the Broncos fall to San Diego State in Wednesday night's rematch of the regular-season finale (and last year's first-round tournament game), this bunch should be dancing.
It has done enough.
The Broncos have beaten Creighton on the road and toppled conference foes UNLV, Colorado State and San Diego State at home. All four will be playing in the NCAA Tournament. They have shown they're capable of beating teams in the field, something the committee considers when picking teams.
The Broncos have gotten hot down the stretch. Boise State is playing some of its best basketball, winning five of its past six games, including the victories against Colorado State and San Diego State. With a team that plays just one senior and starts three sophomores, the Broncos have not yet peaked.
"We're still getting better," Rice said. "It's the time of year where you've got to be playing your best ball. But with our team, we feel like we still have to keep improving."
The Broncos finished above .500 in one of the best leagues in the country. The Mountain West entered Saturday as the top-ranked conference in the country. Even if you don't believe that ranking, it is undeniably among the toughest.
The Broncos rank ahead of other bubble teams - big and small.
Teams such as La Salle, Akron, Louisiana Tech, Kentucky, Villanova, Tennessee and Ole Miss are behind the Broncos in the NCAA's RPI (ratings percentage index), a metric that compares teams across the country on a host of factors, including strength of schedule. Boise State was No. 44 entering Saturday and should rise in the rankings after defeating San Diego State (No. 32).
RPI isn't the be-all, end-all for the committee, but it is a consideration.
So, too, is health.
The Broncos are 21-6 when junior Jeff Elorriaga plays. He missed losses at Air Force, Nevada and Colorado State with a concussion.
And, in what might be the worst way to pick teams, the Broncos pass the eye test.
Point guard Derrick Marks - who had another monster second half Saturday with 22 points and an incredible, potentially game-saving block - gives them someone capable of getting to the basket against anybody. The Broncos' four-guard alignment makes them a difficult matchup for many teams.
"We were paying pretty good attention," said Rice, who has kept his team informed of the high stakes late in the season. "Now we just do what we can do."
The bracketologists, the guys who study the process and make their living predicting who is in and who is out, have all coalesced around the same position regarding the Broncos in recent weeks: They're in.
Well, they should be in.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444