It’s easy to see there’s a lot riding on Boise State men’s basketball matchup against San Diego State on Wednesday.
The Aztecs, the fifth ranked team in the country with wins over Kansas, Marquette and Creighton, edged out the Broncos 69-66 earlier in the season and have proven to be one of the top teams not only in the MWC, but in the nation.
On the other hand, sitting at sixth in the conference, the Broncos have been on a roller coaster ride of a season.
Boise State head coach Leon Rice is already accustomed to the competition his team faces in the MWC.
“In this league, every game is going to be down to the wire, every game is going to be a tough game,” Rice said. “You look at all these teams and they can all beat each other. The last game doesn’t matter. It all depends on who shows up on a given night.”
This time around, the Broncos will have the home court advantage instead of traveling to Viejas Arena, one of the loudest arenas in college basketball.
Boise State has only lost three games from the sanctity of Taco Bell Arena over the past two seasons.
“We’ve had some great crowds here and we don’t have that many home games left so let’s fill this place up,” Rice said.
The Broncos know a big turnout against the Aztecs will be key for them if they want to pull off the upset.
“I love home games and having the crowd come out to support us,” junior Anthony Drmic added.
The home court advantage isn’t the only added boost the Broncos will get this time around. According to Rice, his team is peaking at just the right moment.
“There’s terrific teams (in the MWC) and they’re all getting better,” Rice said. “But we’re getting better too.”
Rice and Drmic attribute the Broncos’ improvement to the development of Nick Duncan and Igor Hadziomerovic returning to full health.
Duncan has averaged 11 ppg over Boise State’s last five contests, and has even made three starts.
Drmic believes it’s the confidence that Duncan has gained over time that has allowed him to contribute so heavily for the Broncos.
“Since the first day, I’ve been on his back to shoot the ball,” Drmic said. “It’s good that he’s finally having that confidence. We’re confident in him and his ability to play.”
For Boise State to pull off the upset against the Aztecs, Rice knows his team is going to have to cause confusion in the San Diego State defense.
“Our system can be really hard to defend too,” Rice said. “We have a lot of ball movement. Our guys share the ball really well and we also shoot the ball really well.”