Boise State vs. Nevada: Game Preview
Nevada hoping to foil the Broncos net cutting ambitions.
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Boise State pushing for Mountain West title sweep, the Nevada Wolf Pack is their first obstacle.
WHO: Boise State (24-7, 15-3 in the MWC) vs. Nevada (13-17, 6-12 in the MWC)
WHEN: Thursday March 10th, 1:00 PM MT, 12:00 PM PT
WHERE: Thomas & Mack Center
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAM: FuboTV – Get a free trial
SERIES RECORD: Nevada leads all time series 51-30
The Mountain West Regular Season Champions Boise State are striving for a sweep of conference hardware. After getting much needed rest after a first round bye, the Broncos are ready to fend off a Nevada in the first quarterfinal matchup of the day.
The Broncos ended the regular season with a 71-68 loss against Colorado State in Fort Collins. The Rams were Mountain West Coach of the Year Leon Rice’s kryptonite this season. Being the only team to sweep the Broncos in conference play. Prior to that loss they were on a five game winning streak, including wins against San Diego State and Utah State at home.
Nevada ended the regular season on a four game losing streak. But they managed to overcome a persistent New Mexico squad, to beat the lobos 79-72 in yesterday’s lunch time first round matchup. Coach Alford’s squad was led by redshirt junior guard Grant Sherfield, who poured in 27 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 5 assists.
“I thought we did a lot of good things in the paint,” said Nevada head coach Steve Alford. “I thought we handled the backboard the way we wanted to handle it. I thought we made things hard on (Jaelen) House and (Jamal) Mashburn, which is a key. And I really thought we guarded, the first 16 minutes of the second half, I thought was the difference.”
Last Time Out
The last meeting between these two longtime conference mates (Big Sky, MWC & WAC) was on March 1st. The Wolf Pack traveled north to fall 73-67 inside ExtraMile Arena. Led by transfer forward Kenan Blackshear who had a team high 16 points. And thwarted by Abu Kigab who had a game high 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists & 3 steals. Boise State swept Nevada this season, which was the first time the Broncos were able to do so since 2016.
Players to Watch:
Sheffield is an absolute bucket getter in every sense of the phrase. Although inconsistent at times with his shooting touch, the 6-2 combo guard is averaging 18.9 PPG, 6.4 APG & 4.3 RPG. His season long totals earned him Third Team All-Mountain West honors this week along with fellow Wolf Pack backcourt member Desmond Cambridge.
Have a day @gsherfield5!
Sherfield has 25 points so far to keep the Pack going! #BattleBorn // #PackParty pic.twitter.com/1WQNa8owvy
— Nevada Basketball (@NevadaHoops) March 9, 2022
Sherfield is averaging 15.2 field goal attempts a game, with over 10 of those coming from inside the arc. He’s a wide-bodied ball handler who doesn’t mind driving the lane to earn his points. And as we saw against New Mexico, he can influence a game in multiple ways on the court. Going 8-9 from the free throw line while dishing out 5 assists and only being responsible for 2 turnovers. He’ll need some help from either Cambridge or even big man Will Baker if the Wolf Pack are to survive one of the best defenses in the country.
F-Abu Kigab-Boise State
After a shoulder injury that ended Kigab’s postseason early this time last year. The 6-7 Canadian forward decided to return for his extra season of eligibility. Since, he has helped lead this Boise State squad to their first outright conference championship and anchoring one of the toughest defenses in the country. The combo forward posted regular season averages of 14.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG 2.3 APG & 1.2 SPG. Earning Second-Team All-Mountain West honors along with a spot on the All-Defensive Team.
Relentless on the glass! Broncos back up by 1!#BleedBlue | #WhatsNext pic.twitter.com/qihXomsbpg
— Boise State MBB (@BroncoSportsMBB) March 6, 2022
Kigab is all over the floor and makes his money taking tough defensive assignments, attacking the glass and getting to the free throw line while doing it. As the team’s leading scorer he doesn’t need to have the most points every game for Boise State to win, his contributions pile up elsewhere for his team to survive and advance.
Keys to the Game
For Boise State: Flash that Top-20 Ranked Defense, Secure the Basketball and knock down the three.
For Nevada: Find and take quality shots, Crash the glass and avoid fouling
Prediction: Boise State 70, Nevada 65
I think Nevada has the individual scorers to upset Boise State given the perfect storm. But those scorers don’t exactly score with efficiency in on a consistent basis. So the wrong amount of missed shots or turnovers will surely give the Broncos the W and send them to the semifinals on Friday.
The winner of this one faces the winner of #4 Wyoming & #5 UNLV, set to tip-off at 2:30 PM PT in the Thomas and Mack. They’ll play Friday at 6:30 PM PT on the CBS Sports Network.
Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.