Boise State Basketball

Boise State men’s basketball lands NIT berth but must go on the road

Chris Sengfelder is one of three seniors on the Boise State men’s basketball team.
Chris Sengfelder is one of three seniors on the Boise State men’s basketball team.

The Boise State men’s basketball team will play Washington in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday.

The game is set for 8 p.m. MT and will air on ESPN3.

Boise State (23-8) earned a No. 4 seed but will travel to No. 5 Washington (20-12) because of the NCAA Tournament being played at Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos considered playing at another local venue, but much of the athletic department’s staff is working the NCAA event.

“Believe me, I wanted to play here,” coach Leon Rice said. “Nothing harder in college basketball than playing on the road. ... We explored every option, but with the tournament here ... it kind of limited our options.”

Boise State and Washington played a closed scrimmage before the season. Washington, coached by longtime Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, beat Arizona and Kansas this season but also lost to Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Boise State-Washington winner will play the Saint Mary’s-Southeastern Louisiana winner. Saint Mary’s is a No. 1 seed and likely would host if it wins.

“(Hopkins) did a terrific job,” Rice said. “He was Pac-12 coach of the year and they were on the cusp of being in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve got great players. That zone drove people mad this year.”

The Broncos, who lost to Utah State 78-75 in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Tournament on Thursday, played in the NIT last season as well. Boise State beat Utah 73-68 in the first round and lost 71-56 to Illinois in the second round.

The NIT will have a number of rules changes from Mountain West play. The changes include: The 3-point line will be extended 20 inches to what the arc is in international play; the lane will be widened 4 feet to NBA regulation; games will be played in four 10-minute quarters; teams will shoot free throws after the fifth foul of each quarter; and the shot clock resets to 20 seconds after offensive rebounds.

BSU women get opponent Monday

The Boise State women’s basketball team will learn its NCAA Tournament opponent and destination during the 2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Special at 5 p.m. Monday on ESPN.

The Broncos (23-9) swept the Mountain West regular-season and tournament titles to advance to the Big Dance for the third time in four years and fifth time in program history.

A’Shanti Coleman’s buzzer-beating putback against Nevada on Friday gave the Broncos a 62-60 victory in the Mountain West Tournament championship game, pushing their win streak to 10 games.

ESPN’s bracket projections at press time Sunday had the Broncos as a No. 14 seed playing No. 3 UCLA in Los Angeles. The Bruins defeated the Broncos 83-56 in the first round of last year’s tournament.

Rachel Roberts: 208-377-6422, @byrachelroberts