Every Mountain West men’s basketball team has two conference opponents it faces only once during the season.
That can be a benefit or a difficulty, depending on one’s perspective.
For the Boise State men’s basketball team, it means Tuesday’s game at Fresno State (9 p.m. MT, ESPNU) could play a key role in determining seeding for the Mountain West Tournament in March.
That’s an unsettling fact given it is only the fifth of 18 league games the Broncos will play this season.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Idaho Statesman
“I understand both sides of the coin. I’m not an advocate for 20 games. Eighteen league games is rough,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “But I don’t like the inequity of scheduling. ... You don’t want it to be a factor in the league standings, but when there is scheduling that’s not equitable, it’s going to be a factor.”
The Broncos (13-3, 3-1 Mountain West) finished one game ahead of the Bulldogs (12-5, 2-2) during the 2016-17 regular season, and the teams were predicted to finish third and fourth, respectively, again in this year’s preseason media poll.
Boise State has not won at Fresno State’s Save Mart Center since Jan. 23, 2013, and the Broncos lost both of their meetings against the Bulldogs last season.
“(Fresno State coach) Rodney (Terry) does a great job, and they’ve had really, really good players ... year in and year out,” Rice said. “That’s what makes it tough to start out with. Places aren’t tough to play if they don’t have good teams, and they always have good teams.”
Tuesday’s game is the second straight road contest for the Broncos, who are coming off a 79-78 overtime loss at Wyoming on Saturday. The loss dropped them out of a tie for first in the conference standings with Nevada, and they are now one of four teams with one league defeat.
“Our expectation is to win every game, so if I had a team that was not devastated by (the Wyoming loss), I’d be really, really concerned,” Rice said. “I think we had the proper response. Now we have to have the proper way we bounce back.”
Boise State has not lost back-to-back games this season, and after the Broncos’ previous losses to Iowa State (Nov. 19) and SMU (Dec. 18), they have beaten their next opponent by 20 or more points.
“That’s our job, is to regroup,” Rice said. “The only thing (the loss) means is you’re not going undefeated (in conference).”