Having a front seat to what I believe was one of the best sporting events held in Boise and possibly Idaho in its history was … well, life changing.
The 66-60 victory over 18th nationally ranked San Diego State on Feb. 28 was undoubtedly the best sports moment in Boise history.
Now, in no way am I saying that this victory trumps every win that Boise State has accomplished, but as for sporting events played in the city of Boise … it was historic.
“I don’t remember a better win in here (ExtraMile Arena),” head coach Leon Rice said. “We just beat a heck of a team. That team can beat anyone and they have … and they’re playing great.”
There are six things that make this sporting event the best in Boise history.
1. The Crowd
In my three years at Boise State, I have never seen a crowd more engaged, enthusiastic and proud than this one, even at a football game. Every single fan, from the floor seats to the rafters, were shouting, chanting and beaming with support for their beloved Broncos.
Whether the games are on weeknights, midday or against a non-formidable opponent, the student section always seems to waiver.
However, this crowd was different. Students showed up and showed out. Boise State’s student section, better known as “The Corral,” were as engaged as ever.
Some students had “Boise State” written on themselves, outrageously colored outfits and numerous posters. The crowd spent the majority of the game on their feet shouting, applauding and of course the occasional booing of the referees and cackling at the San Diego State players.
It was an atmosphere unlike any other. The crowd even reached a max of 112 decibels in the arena. For reference, that’s almost as loud as a live rock concert.
Post game, the players were quick to note how crucial the fan support and engagement was in their win.
“I think the crowd was amazing tonight,” senior guard Max Rice said. “We really fed off that.”
2. The Comeback
The game was a nailbiter to say the least and also a true display of dedication and hard work.
The previous meeting between the two didn’t go as planned.
Although the Broncos were missing a piece of their starting lineup (Marcus Shaver Jr.), during their 52-72 loss against San Diego State in early February, they laid it all out on the court to come back and take down a conference foe just weeks later.
Despite trailing 52-60 with under five minutes remaining, the Broncos were able to take the reins and didn’t look back.
They established a 14-0 scoring run to close out the 66-60 win over the 18th ranked team in the country.
The game was highly anticipated for many, as it was a determining factor in how the conference rankings would end and who could potentially take the second place and third place in the conference standings.
3. The Star of the Show
Need I say more?
The son of head coach Leon Rice put on a show against one of the most defensively aggressive teams the Broncos have faced all season.
Rice played the most instrumental role in the win and had one of the cleanest performances of his career in a time that the Broncos needed it the most.
Rice put up an astounding 26 points, going 5-8 from three and accounted for the majority of the scoring in the last four minutes of the game.
Many have their opinion on Max Rice being a “coach’s son,” but in reality, he is treated just like any other player on the team.
Though his greatness is evident, Rice has had to fight for his starting spot just as much as anyone else on the Broncos roster.
The Broncos honored Max Rice in the pre-game senior celebration. Despite having one year of eligibility remaining, the Bronco star put on what seemed to be a dream game to end the season.
4. The Storm
If you were a student last year you may remember the infamous halt to the storming of the court after clinching the regular season. Though the crowd was stopped by security, this game was your chance for redemption.
Contrary to last year’s halt to the mayhem, the students swarmed the court to celebrate with their beloved players and friends.
Ask any fan or player, the support and recognition of winning a hard fought game is unlike any other.
‘’It was just great to see all the fans and all the students,” sophomore forward Tyson Degenhart said. “Just how happy we all were … those opportunities don’t always come around every day and so we took advantage of it and it was a lot of fun. A lot of pictures taken, a lot of happy fans, a happy team.”
5. The Quad 1 Win
In NCAA basketball, there are different tiers of wins and losses and “Quad 1” wins are the headliners on any team’s resume.
This particular quadrant includes home games against teams in the top 30 of the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings, neutral-site games against the top 50 and road games against the top 75.
As for this game, San Diego State was ranked 18th nationally, making this win much more beneficial for the Broncos than any of their other wins on the season.
One of the most important aspects of any Quad 1 win is their significant impact on NCAA Tournament selection.
In order for teams to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, or March Madness, a Division I college basketball team must either win its conference tournament or receive an “at-large” bid from the NCAA tournament selection committee.
The selection committee decides who gets bids based on their wins and losses.
With the Broncos’ win over No. 18 San Diego State, it felt as though it should have been an immediate bid to go dancing at March Madness.
It was — the Boise State Broncos reached the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.
6. San Diego State’s Run in the NCAA Tournament
In the 2023 March Madness tournament, the San Diego State Aztecs reached the national championship game and shocked the nation in one of the most historic tournament runs.
Along the way, the Aztecs beat No. 12 seed Cahrleston, No. 13 seed Furman, No.1 seed Alabama, No. 6 seed Creighton and No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic.
The Aztecs made a name for themselves throughout the tournament as a defensive juggernaut and also brought more attention and notoriety for the Mountain West Conference.
In one of the most exciting games of the tournament, San Diego State’s Lamont Butler nailed a buzzer beater to send the Aztecs to the national championship game to face University of Connecticut (UCONN).
Though before the Aztecs fell to UCONN in the national championship game, the Boise State Broncos had one thing that upheld their spirits … their status as the last team to beat a national championship contending team.
Since the Aztecs’ loss to the Broncos on Feb. 28, the Aztecs didn’t lose a single game until the National Championship. The San Diego State team went on to win the Mountain West and play on the biggest stages of NCAA basketball.
The win against the Aztecs on Feb. 28 wasn’t just any win, it was THE win.
It was a win that showed Bronco Nation and everyone else that Boise State is not just a football school, they are more than that:, they are a budding basketball powerhouse.