San Diego State vs Boise State Series Preview: How the Regular Season Mountain West Will be Won
The Aztecs are riding an 8-game winning streak and locking in an at-large bid to Indianapolis for the NCAA tournament.
The best games of the Mountain West regular schedule season are here
The No 22/25 Aztecs have been putting teams away in February and have been eyeing a collision course against Boise State. The Broncos owned the top of the standings through much of the season, but a weak resume puts them at risk for an at-large bid. This series will determine who gets the clearer path in the Mountain West tournament for the automatic bid.
WHO: Boise State (19-4, 14-3 MWC) at San Diego State (17-4, 13-3 MWC)
GAME 1: Thursday, February 25, 2021 at 6PM PT | 7PM MT
GAME 2: Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 1PM PT | 2PM PT
WHERE: Viejas Arena, San Diego, CA
WATCH: FS1 Thursday, CBS Sports Net Saturday
LISTEN: 1360-AM, 101.5-FM
ALL-TIME RECORD: SDSU leads 15-7 and has won four straight. San Diego State has only lost twice to Boise State inside Viejas Arena and only lost once to Boise State while ranked in the top 25.
ODDS: San Diego State -6.5
What’s at Stake?
The Aztecs are in familiar territory here. The big difference between the 2020 team and the Matt Mitchell-led team is the current tear through the bottom dwellers of the Mountain West.
The adjusted 2021 schedule means San Diego State hasn’t faced March Madness-level talent since Utah State in late January. Blowout wins against Air Force and San Jose State are good, but expected. The talent is simply not present at the bottom of the Mountain West, but the team from Boise has reloaded their roster for this moment and beyond. Boise State has the MW Preseason Player of the year in Derrick Alston Jr, playing up to his award, two transfers from Pac-12 programs, and a beefy European player by way of East Tennessee State.
The Utah State team that swept the Aztecs in Logan, were swept by the Broncos just last week.
The Broncos are facing a determined, adjusted team now. Matt Mitchell has averaged 15.1 points and 5.3 rebounds while Jordan Schakel has put up 14.6 points and four rebounds. While Schakel has come up big in his perimeter shooting, the emergence of Lamont Butler’s presence is the spark that sets the dynamite off.
Earning the nickname “Downhill” because once he gets the ball in his hand, it’s speed and agility against opponents struggling in transition.
And it’s not seniors who have been with the program 3-4 years like Mitchell and Schakel, but it’s grad transfers like Joshua Tomaic and Terrell Gomez coming through. Joshua Tomaic has played meaningful minutes compared to his Maryland days, and Gomez is out-playing his expectations.
To take the series, San Diego State has to defend Alston Jr who has connected on 42.6 % of his 3-pointers, going for 12 of 21 over his last three games. During this stretch, he’s put up at least 23 points per night.
The silver lining to this is that because of the Aztec defense. San Diego State has held opposing teams to 59.8 points per game this year, the sixth-lowest figure among all Division I teams. According to KenPom, the Aztecs are the 19th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and the Aztecs are keeping their opponents shooting to 38.95% from the field.
This series is preseason number 1 taking on the preseason number 2 in the mountain west. The winner doesn’t have to face a hungry middle-of-pack opponent like Nevada.
Thursday: San Diego State 78, Boise State 62
Saturday: San Diego State 66, Boise State 60