Boise State vs. Wyoming: Game Preview, TV, Radio, Live Stream, Odds, More
Broncos, Cowboys trending in different directions
This game could solidify both teams’ place in the Mountain West hierarchy
WHO: Boise State (9-5, 1-1 MWC) vs. Wyoming (5-9, 0-2 WCC)
WHEN: Wednesday, January 1 — 6:00 P.M. MT / 5:00 P.M. PT
WHERE: ExtraMile Arena, Boise, ID
ALL-TIME: Boise State leads the series, 15-14
ODDS: Boise State -16, per KenPom
Mountain West play resumes for both teams in the New Year as the Broncos look to keep the celebration going into Wednesday night in Boise.
Leon Rice’s team has won three games in a row after losing to Georgia Tech in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii last week. After dropping their game to the Yellow Jackets, Boise State responded with strong showings against Portland, UTEP, and Cal State Northridge.
One reason for their recent success is the debut of Abu Kigab, who transferred to Boise State after starting his career at Oregon. The junior was hled out of competition during the fall semester, but Kigab didn’t take long to make a big impact. He scored 33 points against CSUN in the team’s latest game. The outburst was especially encouraging for a team that was in need of a bit of size and scoring punch.
Boise State is in a good groove as conference play gets back underway, but their opponents haven’t had such a leisurely stroll over the past few games.
Wyoming has fallen to 5-9 and will almost assuredly spend the season fighting with San Jose State for 10th place in the Mountain West. The Cowboys have won two straight, although one of those wins came against Nebraska Wesleyan of Division III. Before a December 21 win over Denver, Wyoming had lost six in a row.
Their overtime victory against the Pioneers may have snapped the streak, but the Cowboys still look they are playing at a different level than the rest of their Mountain West peers.
And not in a good way.
This game could help solidify both the Broncos’ place in the top half of the league and Wyoming’s place in the cellar.
On THE BRONCOS’ POSSESSIONS…
The Broncos can attack teams in a number of ways, but they are at their best when they are raining threes down on their opponents. They’ve mostly thawed out of a cold spell that plagued that at the start of the season, and Justinian Jessup is always a threat to get hot from outside. Derrick Alston is the team’s primary scorer, though, and is good as anyone in the league at getting points from all over the court.
Boise State – and Jessup, in particular – takes very good care of the ball, and it is one of the reasons that Leon Rice has stuck with Marcus Dickinson in his backcourt, despite the senior’s limitations as a scorer.
In the frontcourt, RJ Williams has delivered an asbolutely fantastic performance on the season. Though he is relatively undersized at 6’7”, the senior has been one of the best rebounders in the country and has turned heads with his never-ending motor on the offensive end.
The Cowboys have certainly been better on the defensive end than they have been on offense, but that is a low bar to clear. Their best trait on defense has been their rebounding, but the Broncos should still be able to grab a few off the glass for some easy put-backs. And with Wyoming forcing turnovers at one of the lowest rates in America, expect Boise State to have plenty of opportunities to score against this pedestrian defense.
ON THE COWBOYS’ POSSESSIONS…
Well, it’s a pretty simple formula for Allen Edwards’ club: give the ball to Hunter Maldonado and let him work. And run out a lot of clock in the meantime. The Cowboys play one of the slowest tempos in the country, clocking in just outside of the bottom 10 nationally in possessions per game.
For his part, Maldonado has had no shortage of opportunities to advertise his offensive skills, racking up usage rates well over 30%. The offense moves – slowly – through the sophomore. Hunter Thompson and Jake Hendricks are the only other Wyoming players to have taken more than 100 shots on the year.
But while this dearth of shots can be mostly explained away by the slow pace and the Maldonado-centric offense, Wyoming has cost themselves a number of opportunities – and they almost never get second chances.
The Cowboys are slightly below average in terms of ball security, but the Broncos aren’t particularly opportunistic, so that won’t be as much of a liability as the team’s abysmal offensive rebounding will be. No team in the country has struggled on the glass more than Wyoming, and they won’t have an easy time against a tenacious Boise State club.
BOISE STATE 72, WYOMING 60
The Broncos should win this one going away, but if their hot shooters head into an early hibernation, they could find themselves in trouble. Alston, Jessup, and Maldonado could all put up video game numbers in this one, but with the way Wyoming plays, don’t expect the score to climb into the 80s.
Regardless of the final margin, Boise State should be moving to 2-1 in league play, while the Cowboys slip to 0-3.
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.