They may not be the marquee matchups on Boise State's schedule, but Friday's game against Simpson and Dec. 5's contest against Carroll serve multiple purposes for the Broncos.
From getting more experience for newcomers to potential improvement in the RPI, facing NAIA teams is mostly beneficial.
Boise State coach Leon Rice would like high-major conference teams to visit Boise, but he said Thursday that as his program has improved, "people don't even call us back anymore."
"We want to play the highest-level team we can play, but we also need to have home games, too," Rice said. "We want our fans to get to know this team and these players. That's one of the best and easiest ways to get a home game."
Redding, Calif.-based Simpson comes into Friday's 7 p.m. game at Taco Bell Arena 1-4, yielding 96.6 points per game. Boise State, coming off a 116-87 win over UT Arlington last Friday, should be able to again get plenty of minutes for anyone suited up.
Twelve Broncos played against the Mavericks, with 10 scoring. Four who got into the game did not play last season.
"It gives us a chance to maybe get more guys involved. You've got a lot of guys we need to get experience, which will pay off in January if we can get them some minutes here," Rice said.
Scheduling an NAIA school is also better for the Broncos come March than scheduling a low-end Division I team.
Prior to the Broncos' NCAA Tournament game in Dayton, Ohio, last March, Rice spoke about scheduling with the Idaho Statesman. The Broncos played Corban and Walla Walla in late December. Rice said, "I didn't want to bring in two (RPI) 300 schools," noting that it is more expensive, plus hampers RPI, a key metric used by the tournament selection committee, because it takes into account strength of schedule. NAIA teams do not factor into the RPI formula.
"It really is (good) for your RPI, because it has no effect on it," Rice said.
The timing of Friday's game was key for Rice, noting the Boise State football team's home game Saturday, and that NAIA teams are more flexible in their willingness to travel to face a Division I team.
Ask the Broncos who will take the floor Friday, and quite a bit less thought goes into it. They say a game is a game, not paying much attention to the level at which the opponent plays - NAIA Lewis-Clark State played the Broncos tough in the first half of their Nov. 1 exhibition.
"To us, every game is important. We can take a lot from these types of games," Boise State senior forward Ryan Watkins said. "As we saw last time, an NAIA team came out here and played hard. We don't expect anything less."
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn