Predicting Boise State Basketball's Non-Conference Record in 2019-20

Predicting Boise State Basketball's Non-Conference Record in 2019-20

Mountain West Basketball

Predicting Boise State Basketball's Non-Conference Record in 2019-20

By

12/11 Tulsa (Tulsa, OK)

The last of the Broncos true road games in the non-conference season, this matchup with the Golden Hurricanes could tell a lot about how BSU’s season will go. Tulsa won 18 games last year, but lose All-AAC talent in DaQuan Jeffries, who led the team in scoring a year ago. Also departed is Sterling Taplin, who has been one of the more consistent assist machines in the league’s short history. Senior forward Martins Igbanu is coming off a breakout year and could see even more of the ball this year. Jeriah Horne is another solid piece that is coming back for Frank Haith. The Hurricanes are also bringing in 7-foot JUCO product Emmanuel Ugboh, who averaged just shy of a double-double last year. Boise State may have the edge here in talent and experience, but this will be a hard-won battle. A road win here could be a nice resume booster if the Broncos find themselves on the bubble in March.

Prediction: Win

12/14 Alabama State (Boise, ID)

Yes, this is a pretty clear “buy” game against a SWAC team from over 2,000 miles away – but it’s never a good idea to overlook opponents. To be fair, Alabama State failed to register a non-conference victory against a Division I school last season. The Hornets did, however, finish in the middle of the pack in their league, so the team does have the ability to win basketball games. Jacoby Ross and Leon Freeman-Daniels are the top players coming back for Lewis Jackson in 2019-20. AJ Farrar and Tobi Ewuosho were solid pieces off the bench last year and should see an increase in time, especially after leading scorer Reggie Gee transferred to Austin Peay. Even with a number of experienced players coming back, the Hornets shouldn’t pose much of a threat to Boise State, so long as the Broncos stay focused.

Prediction: Win

12/22 Georgia Tech (Diamond Head Classic – Honolulu, HI)

This should be a really good matchup. James Banks III and Jose Alvarado return for Georgia Tech, along with Michael Devoe and Moses Wright. Khalid Moore is another player who logged significant minutes last season. The Yellow Jackets finished with the 43rd best defense a year ago, per KenPom, thanks in part to the ability of Banks and Wright to block shots. Alvarado and Devoe can both force turnovers as well. But the question remains whether Josh Pastner can put it all together for Tech. After posting winning records in his first eight seasons as a head coach, Pastner has led the team to two consecutive losing seasons. The seat is surely starting to warm up for the former wunderkind. This is likely to be a Quadrant 2 victory for whichever team grabs it – and one that both will desperately need to push themselves further away from the cut line.

Prediction: Win

12/23 Houston or Portland (Diamond Head Classic – Honolulu, HI)

After this matchup, the Broncos will take on either Houston or Portland. Surely, the Pilots would be the much easier victory for Boise State, but securing a neutral site victory over Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars would be so much more valuable for their résumé. If the Broncos get past Georgia Tech, they will likely struggle with Houston. It’s hard to see Leon Rice guiding the team to a victory there, but it would be potentially the biggest win of the year if he did. Dejon Jarreau and Nate Hinton return for the Cougars after last season’s Sweet Sixteen run. One of the big questions here will be whether Kansas transfer and former five-star recruit Quentin Grimes will receive a waiver to play immediately for Sampson. Even without him, this Houston team will be a lot for Boise State to handle.

Prediction: Loss to Houston
Other Possibilities: Win over Portland

12/25 Washington, Hawaii, UTEP, or Ball State (Diamond Head Classic – Honolulu, HI)

The other side of the bracket features Washington and their star-studded recruiting class led by Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, UTEP and its reloaded roster, Eran Granot’s sneaky-good Hawaii squad (who will be playing at home), and a Ball State team that features seniors Tahjai Teague and KJ Walton. Boise State should be good enough to beat three of the teams on the other side of the bracket, but Washington would likely pose too much of a problem on the interior for the Broncos to keep up. The Huskies would undoubtedly be the biggest trophy for Boise State, but it’s more likely that they will end up facing Hawaii, whom I expect to beat Ball State and lose to Washington. The Warriors would be a pretty tough matchup, especially in what would effectively become a true road game. But I think Boise State has the better roster and would find a way to win. The Broncos are, in my view, the third-best team in this tournament and will likely hoist the third-place trophy befitting that ranking.

Prediction: Win over Hawaii (to finish 3rd place)
Other Possibilities: Loss to Washington (2nd place), Win over UTEP (5th place), Win over Ball State (7th place)

12/28 Cal State Northridge (Boise, ID)

The Broncos’ final game of 2019 is also their last non-conference contest. While the Matadors’ record of 13-21 from last season isn’t going to strike fear in the hearts of opponents, the play of big man Lamine Diane should. The Senegalese forward posted one of the most impressive stat lines of any player in the nation during his freshman season in 2018-19. Diane scored nearly 25 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked over two shots, and notched a steal and a half per game. Most of the supporting cast from last year is back, too, including Terrell Gomez – who also dropped in 19 points and three assists every night – and Ron Artest III. Diane and Gomez form a solid core for Mark Gottfried, but Boise State should have a big advantage on the wings in this game.

Prediction: Win

Predicted Non-Conference Win-Loss Record: 8-3

Wins: BYU, @ Pacific, UNC Wilimngton, @ Tulsa, Alabama State, vs. Georgia Tech, @ Hawaii, Cal State Northridge
Losses: @ Oregon, UC Irvine, vs. Houston

All told, this would be a pretty solid non-conference run for Leon Rice and the Broncos. The losses to Oregon and Houston shouldn’t hurt too much, though losing to UC Irvine doesn’t look great. Still, the Anteaters should be good enough to mitigate some of that. The wins, as listed, could contain between two and four Quadrant 2 wins (BYU, Tulsa, GT, Hawaii). Certainly, the best case scenario for Boise State would be to grab wins over Oregon, Houston, and even Washington in the Diamond Head final – but that seems like a bit too much to ask for this team.

Regardless, with this non-conference resume and a Top 3 finish in the Mountain West, Boise State would have a very good shot at getting selected for the NCAA Tournament.

Andrew is a current USBWA member, covering college basketball for multiple outlets, including Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Busting Brackets of the FanSided Network. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a college basketball analytics system, and provides bracketology predictions throughout the season.

Latest

More MWWire