Boise State hosts the Academy in a two-game showdown!
Can the Broncos unbeaten start in MW play continue?
The Series: Air Force Academy @ Boise State Broncos
Game One Time: Wednesday, 1/6/21 8:00 pm PST
Game two Time: Friday, 1/8/21, 7:00 pm PST
GAME ONE TV: FOX SPORTS 1
GAME TWO TV: NONE
GAME ONE STREAM: FuboTV – Get a seven-day free trial
GAME TWO STREAM: Stadium
ODDS via BetMGM: Boise State favored by 18.5
The Broncos (8-1) (4-0), get ready to host a tough team to prepare for with Joe Scott‘s Air Force Academy (3-5) (1-3.)
Since the start of Mountain West play, The Broncos are winning their conference games by an average of 26 points and have looked dominant against the bottom teams in the conference, SJSU and New Mexico. The three-point shooting has been one of the main culprits for the recent success; early-on, I talked about the three-point shooting problems; those are no longer problems are the team is shooting 35.5% from three. Derrick Alston Jr. an average shooter throughout his career, has found the stroke, shooting 46% this season from long-range. Alston is playing with more confidence and poise than he ever has during his time in Boise, and you can tell how hard he worked this off-season.
Mladen Armus’s struggles on offense continue, though this is an opportune time to get his confidence back, as a back to the basket big-man Armus is shooting only 34% from the field. If the Broncos can get where they want to be in March, they need Armus to be a huge part of it; the Academy struggles defending opposing bigs due to their lack of size. I’d expect Leon Rice to give Armus the ball early-and-often to try to get the confidence rolling. In-fact, Air Force allows opposing teams to shoot 56.9% from inside-the-arc, get some pick & rolls going, and pound the paint, get Air Force on their toes.
The long-awaited debut of Arizona transfer Devonaire Doutrive will transpire in this contest, as previously announced earlier this week.
Leon Rice tells me that Boise State's Devonaire Doutrive is targeting Wednesday's game against Air Force to make his season debut. Transfer from Arizona.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 4, 2021
When Doutrive plays, expect a super bouncy athlete that’ll make plenty of flashy plays and is a lockdown defender similar to Emmanuel Akot in terms of defense. Doutrive was 9-23 in his Arizona career from three; I think Doutrive can be a good shooter, as he has an excellent form. It’s yet to be said what role Doutrive can play, but expect somewhere between 8-15 minutes to start.
“Devonaire is going to have a huge impact. I don’t think a lot of people know how good he is."
The Devonaire Doutrive era at Boise State is set to begin tomorrow night against Air Force:https://t.co/XV2I4YjJgh
— B.J. Rains (@BJRains) January 6, 2021
For the Academy, they were picked 2nd to last in the preseason MW conference poll. Joe Scott’s team has struggled this season, except in game two in Reno against Nevada, where the Falcons won for the first time in Reno in a colossal upset. Speaking of Joe Scott, this is Year One of the new Joe Scott era. Scott was The Academy’s lead man from 2000-04, leading AFA to their last NCAA Tournament in 2003-04, before departing for his Dream Job, coaching his alma mater, Princeton.
Coming from Princeton, Scott employs the Princeton offense (If you aren’t familiar, the gist of the offense is having the center/five-man be the main facilitator of the offense around the post-area/foul-line. In this case, Nikc Jackson is the main passer, and there is a plethora of passing while waiting for a back-cut or finding someone open for three.
For this AFA team, they turn the ball over far more than they should for the Princeton offense, and they aren’t following one of the main cardinal sins of the offense, making bad passes.
When looking at the roster, the Academy has some pieces, but they have a lot of personnel searching to with losing Ryan Swan & Lavelle Scottie after the season, and with a limited off-season, that’s tough to do. A.J. Walker entered the transfer portal after the coaching change, though when Scott was hired, he opted to return rather than transferring to either Texas Tech or TCU. Walker is by far the team’s best shooter, at 41% from three; Walker is so vital to the team’s offensive success like we saw in the Nevada game, the senior dropped 27 points. Air Force needs to hit their threes to win games against a Boise State team. Allowing teams to only shoot 27% from three this season is a brute task.
Keys to the series:
Air Force has to beat the numbers. If they shoot at-or-near the 27% from three that the Broncos have allowed this season, they won’t win.
Boise needs to pound the paint. Air Force doesn’t have the size or speed to keep up with guys like Alston, Akot, Kigab, and hopefully Armus.
Air Force has to limit the turnovers against a team that can run the transition offense the way Boise is capable of; live-ball turnovers will be a huge blow.
Players to watch:
AFA: A.J. Walker
Boise State: Mladen Armus
Likely starting lineups:
Game one prediction: Boise State: 80, Air Force 56
Game Two Prediction: Boise State: 85, Air Force 64