When it comes to scheduling, Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice isn’t afraid to meet a lion in his den.
And a new adjustment to the way the NCAA Tournament selection committee values road and neutral wins will reward the Broncos for taking those risks.
In the past, the team sheets — which essentially provide a visual representation of a team’s resume for the selection committee — treated all games the same, regardless of whether they were played at home, on the road or at a neutral site.
“I think it’s really important, because it encourages and it rewards road wins,” Rice said. “What we were trending towards was the Power Five schools never leaving their home, and that’s not good for college basketball. You set up a lot of better preseason matches of good teams if you reward people to go on the road, because some places don’t have to.”
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Boise State’s nonconference schedule this season has been a tough one, starting with a trip to the Puerto Rico Tip-off in mid-November, where the Broncos advanced to the title game by beating UTEP and Illinois State before falling to Iowa State.
Then the Broncos (10-1) ended the longest home winning streak in the nation (46 games) with a 73-70 victory at Oregon, a Final Four team last season, on Dec. 1 at Matthew Knight Arena.
Boise State’s final nonconference game this season is Monday (7 p.m., ESPNU) against SMU at Moody Coliseum in Dallas, where the Mustangs (8-3) have a 29-game home winning streak.
“Here we go again. They already beat Arizona, USC, just to name a couple,” Rice said of SMU. “I picked two of the toughest places in the country to go. There’s been a pattern of winning — great coach, great players, unbelievable atmosphere.”
Before this season, the NCAA selection committee’s team sheets were divided into four categories with a primary emphasis on the opponent, regardless of location: top 50 in RPI rankings, top 100, top 200 and 201 and above. Now the committee will choose its 36 at-large bids and decide seeds for all 68 tournament teams based on four quadrants.
According to Andy Katz of NCAA.com, those quadrants are divided as follows: home games against teams ranked 1-30 in RPI, neutral games vs. 1-50, road games against 1-75 (Quadrant 1); home 31-75, neutral 51-100, road 76-135 (Quadrant 2); home 76-160, neutral 101-200, road 136-240 (Quadrant 3); home 161-plus, neutral 201-plus, road 241-plus (Quadrant 4).
“We’ve done a really good job of scheduling here that has benefited our RPI,” Rice said. “You look over the years and our RPI has been right in the mix almost every year. You have to be a little fortunate, because your schedule is done in advance. You’re hoping that this team is good enough, so there’s a little luck to it, but you do have to have those opportunities to get those quadrant one wins, because that’s probably the most important thing that (the NCAA selection committee) is going to look at.”
Rice said the Broncos already have benefited from the tweak to the team sheets in terms of scheduling future nonconference matchups.
“I’ve had discussions with Power Five coaches that we’re working on, where they probably would have just completely ignored me prior to this. Now at least we get the discussion going,” Rice said. “Because they even said, ‘Yeah, we do need to find some good road games.’ It doesn’t mean that Michigan State, Duke, Carolina are all going to be beating down your door to go play road games, but ... it makes it more reasonable and more of a possibility.”
BSU women host Washington State
The Broncos put their three-game win streak on the line when Washington State visits Taco Bell Arena at 7 p.m. Monday. It is the second Pac-12 program the Broncos (5-3) will face this season. They beat Washington 85-62 on Dec. 7.
Washington State (5-5) is coached by June Daugherty, who led the BSU women’s program from 1989 to 1996, compiling a record of 123-74. WSU assistant Rod Jensen is a former Boise State men’s coach.
Last season, the Broncos beat Washington State 77-73 in overtime in Pullman, Wash.
The Broncos lost 6-foot-3 starting center Marijke Vanderschaaf to a season-ending injury in the opening minute against Washington. Junior Joyce Harrell has taken over for Vanderschaaf but is not as tall at 6-0.
The Cougars have five players who stand 6-3 or taller.
“It will be a great test for us, because they play very, very similar to (Mountain West opponents) UNLV and New Mexico and San Diego State,” Presnell said.
The WSU matchup is the first of three games in four days for the Broncos, who also host CSU Bakersfield on Wednesday (7 p.m.) and Saint Francis on Thursday (5:30 p.m.).