Which high-powered offense will win?
Game: (1) Boise State Vs. (4) Wyoming
Time: 9:30 PM EST
TV: CBS Sports Network
The Mountain West tournament semifinals will take place on Friday – Today, we’ll look at Wyoming facing Boise State; the winner faces Colorado State/San Diego State. The four remaining teams are virtual NCAA Tournament locks; all that awaits is the Selection Show on Sunday. Wyoming solidified their spot by beating UNLV on Thursday, as Xavier DuSell showed some March Magic with a late-game jumper.
Boise caught a break on Thursday — Nevada’s Kenan Blackshear had an uncontested look from deep, but the shot fell short, and the Broncos advanced. It wasn’t a premier defensive performance, allowing 1.01 points per possession, which is more than the average. The Broncos need the elite defense to show up against the Cowboys’ lethal offense to make a title game appearance.
Graham Ike has struggled in the last six games, making only 31 of his last 87 shots attempts (35%.) A lot of Ike’s success comes from drawing fouls, but his production dropped dramatically during Wyoming’s recent struggles. He scored 19 and 33 points in the two regular-season matchups against the Broncos.
Hunter Maldonado also struggled in the win over UNLV, but showing the ability to win despite not getting scoring from your top-two players shows the depth of Jeff Linder’s team. Even when Maldonado isn’t scoring, he’s constantly making his teammates better.
Players to watch:
Boise State: Emmanuel Akot
There’s only one point guard taller in the Mountain West than Maldonado, and it’s Emmanuel Akot, a 6-foot-8 versatile guard, who scored 24 points in the quarterfinal win over Nevada. Akot won’t get directly directly down to the basket by Maldonado, so that changes the game for Wyoming.
Wyoming: Xavier DuSell
DuSell hasn’t replicated the numbers of his freshman campaign, shooting only 34 percent from three due to injuries and inconsistent play. He’s only 7 for his last 28 from outside. That number has to improve if Wyoming reaches its ceiling, winning multiple games in the Big Dance.
Boise State 68
The Broncos don’t have enough offensive firepower to keep pace with Wyoming’s dangerous offensive punch. That will be the ultimate difference-maker in the semifinal matchup.