The Boise State men’s basketball team isn’t out of the NCAA Tournament conversation just yet.
Although the Broncos’ loss to No. 20 Nevada last week likely means they’ll need to win the Mountain West Tournament to get in, coach Leon Rice isn’t holding up the white flag.
“There’s a lot left to play out, so we’ll see, but you just don’t know what’s going on all around the country and what (the NCAA selection committee) truly is going to value most,” said Rice, whose team plays at Colorado State on Wednesday (7 p.m., ESPN3). “In the old days they used to put the last 10 games up there. What if they’re doing that? What does that do to different teams?
“I don’t know what’s going to be the deciding factor when you’re comparing 30 teams and they’ve got to compare apples and oranges and all kinds of different fruits.”
In the past, Rice might have been tempted to compare fruits, but not this season.
“I remember one year like 15 years ago when I was analyzing it all. It was torture. It was crazy,” Rice said. “All this crazy stuff would happen, so I moved on from that. That’s too much to figure out and too much to worry about.”
Bracket experts from ESPN.com, CBSSports.com, SportingNews.com and TheAthletic.com currently have the Broncos on the outside looking in. Through Monday’s games, the Broncos (21-6, 11-4 MW) sit 58th in the Ken Pom rankings and 51st in RPI and received one vote in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls.
The bigger concern for Rice with three regular-season games to play is making sure the Broncos haven’t lost sight of their goals. They still can win a Mountain West championship and match the program’s single-season record for wins. Both the 2007-08 and 2014-15 teams won 25 games.
“It’s that time of the year when you see some teams heading for the barn and other teams trying to peak,” Rice said. “We want to be a team that keeps getting better even in late February.”
Women: BSU can clinch bye
The Boise State women can secure a first-round bye in the Mountain West Tournament with a win over Colorado State on Wednesday at Taco Bell Arena (7 p.m., 1350 AM).
The Broncos (17-9, 11-4 MW) are just a half-game behind UNLV and Wyoming for first place in the Mountain West standings with three games remaining for the Broncos and four apiece for the Rebels and Cowgirls.
“When you’re this late in the season, you’re looking for any little motivation,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “You don’t want to play four games at that tournament, so it would be really nice if we can accomplish this.”
Boise State opened its Mountain West schedule with a 62-58 win at Colorado State (18-8, 10-5) on Dec. 28, 2017, and the teams have not met since.
“Colorado State is always extremely, extremely well prepared. They switched offenses in the middle of the year, so they’ll be a tough guard for us,” Presnell said. “They’re a very good defensive team, but we’ve been on a pretty good roll here and hopefully it will continue. We just have to really lock down and focus in and see what happens.”
Note: Boise State guard Riley Lupfer was named Mountain West Player of the Week for the third time this season. The sophomore averaged 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 59.1 percent (13-for-22) from the field and 55.6 percent (10-for-18) from 3-point range in Boise State’s road sweep of Nevada and Air Force.