Watch Taco Bell Arena transform for March Madness
Mountain West men’s and women’s basketball teams will start league play about a month earlier than usual for the 2019-20 season.
The 2020 Mountain West women’s tournament will run March 1-4 and the men’s March 4-7 — a week earlier than normal — to avoid the CONEXPO-CON/AGG International Construction Trade Show scheduled for the tournament’s traditional week of March 10-14 in Las Vegas. The trade show brings more than 125,000 construction industry professionals to the city and dramatically impacts the availability and price of hotel rooms, airline tickets and rental cars.
That means the Boise State men’s basketball team will play its first conference game on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at New Mexico, followed by a home game against Colorado State on Saturday, Dec. 7. Meanwhile, the women host New Mexico on Dec. 4 and travel to Colorado State on Dec. 7. After those games, conference play will resume on Jan. 1, 2020.
“Starting the conference season early provides a unique set of challenges, but also gives us an additional opportunity for rest in the middle of the season,” Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice said in a statement released by the school. “The challenges are going to be the same for everyone in the league, though, and we will all have an opportunity to evaluate its impact after the season.”
The Mountain West announced the league schedule on Thursday, with each of the conference’s 11 men’s and women’s basketball teams playing eight home-and-home series along with one additional home game and one additional road game. The Boise State men will not play Fresno State at home and won’t travel to Colorado State, while the BSU women won’t host Colorado State and will not travel to Fresno State.
The Dec. 4 start to conference play is the earliest in program history for the Broncos and means the men will have to open without the services of Oregon transfer Abu Kigab, who won’t be eligible until the second semester of the school year.
Boise State’s two league byes are scheduled for Jan. 22 and Feb. 29 (Feb. 27 for the women), with the latter date being the final day of games for the regular season. Selection Sunday is set for March 15, 2020.
The exact dates of conference games are still subject to change. Games can move from Wednesday to Tuesday, and Saturday to Sunday, based on television selections. CBS Sports Network and ESPN have first pick, followed by regional partner AT&T SportsNet and the Mountain West Network on Stadium.
The Boise State men and women have not yet finalized their nonconference schedules. The men have known games against Oregon and Pacific and will compete in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The women will play in the Preseason WNIT, hosting a first-round game against Portland State at 7 p.m. Nov. 8, and will play at Louisville.
Track: BSU’s Ostrander, Schoffield advance
Boise State redshirt junior Allie Ostrander dominated her heat of the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase prelims on Thursday at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas.
Ostrander’s winning time of 9 minutes, 44.32 seconds was the fastest in the event and assures her a chance to compete for her third straight national title on Saturday. Her time also is the fastest steeplechase semifinal in NCAA history — beating her record from last year — and a Mike A. Myers Stadium record.
Ostrander will run in the steeplechase final at 4:54 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2) followed by the 5,000 final at 6:25 p.m.
“I’m feeling good going into the finals on Saturday,” Ostrander said in a Boise State video posted on Twitter. “I know it’s going to be difficult and there will be good competition, but I’m excited for it.”
Boise State sophomore Kristie Schoffield qualified for her first national final in the 800. Schoffield took third in her heat, but moved into the final based on her time of 2:03.53, which was the sixth fastest overall out of 24 runners. She also is the first Bronco to advance to an 800 national final. Saturday’s 800 is set for 5:44 p.m.
“Just onward and upward from here, I guess,” Schoffield said. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens on Saturday.”
Boise State senior Alexis Fuller failed to qualify for Saturday’s final in the women’s 1,500. Fuller had an off day, finishing last in her heat in Thursday’s prelims in 4:30.62. She owns the school record in the event at 4:11.18 and concludes her BSU career as an honorable mention All-American.
“Alexis had a rough one today — it happens,” Boise State coach Corey Ihmels said in a press release. “But that doesn’t take away from her career. She’s done so much for (our) program, and I’m sad to to see that come to a premature end. She had a spectacular career, and we’re proud to have had her with us these last four years.”
C of I among top NAIA athletic programs
The College of Idaho completed the 2018-19 Learfield-IMG Sports Directors’ Cup standings with a ranking of No. 11 among NAIA institutions.
It is the sixth time in the last eight seasons that the Coyotes have finished within the Top 20, and it is the school’s second-best finish behind a No. 10 ranking during the 2013-14 season.
Points are awarded based on each school’s finish in NAIA championships, utilizing the top six men’s and top six women’s finishes, which must include men’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s basketball and women’s basketball.
The Coyotes totaled 612.5 points. Oklahoma City won the title with 921 points.
2019-20 Boise State men’s league schedule
Dec. 4: at New Mexico
Dec. 7: COLORADO STATE
Jan. 1: WYOMING
Jan. 4: at Nevada
Jan. 8: UNLV
Jan. 11: at San Diego State
Jan. 15: at Air Force
Jan. 18: UTAH STATE
Jan. 25: at Fresno State
Jan. 29: SAN JOSE STATE
Feb. 1: NEVADA
Feb. 5: at Wyoming
Feb. 8: at Utah State
Feb. 12: AIR FORCE
Feb. 15: SAN DIEGO STATE
Feb. 19: at San Jose State
Feb. 22: New Mexico
Feb. 26: at UNLV
2019-20 Boise State women’s league schedule
Dec. 4: NEW MEXICO
Dec. 7: at Colorado State
Jan. 1: at Wyoming
Jan. 4: NEVADA
Jan. 8: at UNLV
Jan. 11: SAN DIEGO STATE
Jan. 15: AIR FORCE
Jan. 18: at Utah State
Jan. 25: FRESNO STATE
Jan. 29: at San Jose State
Feb. 1: at Nevada
Feb. 5: WYOMING
Feb. 8: UTAH STATE
Feb. 12: at Air Force
Feb. 15: at San Diego State
Feb. 19: SAN JOSE STATE
Feb. 22: at New Mexico
Feb. 24: UNLV