The Boise State men’s basketball team’s next opponent is anxiety.
While the team is confident it has the resume to be an at-large pick in the NCAA Tournament, the simple fact is that the Broncos are firmly on the bubble, and they will need to wait through a few agonizing days before Selection Sunday (4 p.m. MST, CBS).
“It’s in the committee’s hands, you know what I mean?” Boise State wing Anthony Drmic said. “Whatever happens happens. I think we’ve had a good season, so I think we’re happy with it.”
Boise State coach Leon Rice said he won’t be nervous, and he laid out his team’s case for its first-ever at-large spot Wednesday after losing 73-67 to San Diego State.
“I think if you look at our resume with four top 50 wins, I think 16 top 100 games we played, we went out and played people,” he said.
Rice added that the Broncos were “really, really competitive” when healthy, noting close losses to Michigan State, San Diego State and New Mexico.
The Bracket Project, which tracks mock brackets across the web, has Boise State in 86 of the 97 brackets it tracks.
Some national media at the game Saturday weighed in on the Broncos’ bubble situation, and most think Boise State is a tournament team.
SI.com’s Andy Glockner wrote about the Broncos’ wait-and-see fate they’ve been dealt, saying “When you look around at the current landscape and compare what Boise State has done, it’s hard not to see them still on the right side of the cutline at this point.”
CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman noted that Rice won’t be scoreboard-watching, and wrote that “Boise State took care of Creighton in Omaha and also has three more victories that will gain the attention of the NCAA selection committee members pouring through statistics in Indianapolis.”
Here is the 10-person NCAA Tournament selection committee that will determine the Broncos’ fate:
Mike Bobinski, Xavier athletic director
Doug Fullerton, Big Sky commissioner
Ron Wellman, Wake Forest athletic director
Scott Barnes, Utah State athletic director
Joe Alleva, LSU athletic director
Jamie Zaninovich, West Coast Conference commissioner
Joe Castiglione, Oklahoma athletic director
Mark Hollis, Michigan State athletic director
Judy MacLeod, Conference USA associate commissioner
Peter Roby, Northeastern athletic director
Obviously, Fullerton, Barnes and Zaninovich have western ties — Zaninovich will likely angle for Saint Mary’s to be considered out of his own conference, and that will be one of the bubble teams Boise State will need to beat out. Hollis has seen Boise State play well against his Spartans this year, and he is a former associate commissioner of the WAC.
Boise State went without a true forward on the floor for the last 12:30 of Saturday’s game. Within four minutes, the Broncos forced four turnovers and went on a 14-0 run to take a brief 50-49 lead with 8:28 to play.
“It’s funny to say we went small ball because we started small ball,” Rice said of his team, which has no player taller than 6-foot-9 and starts four guards. “We just went smaller ball.”
It worked for the most part, as the Broncos stayed within four points until the final minute, but ran out of gas. Rice said the team “kind of peaked too early.”
“Well, we just felt like we had to change,” he said. “We felt like we were running in sand, playing a little frustrated. We had to throw some different stuff at them. It’s a credit to San Diego State. They were really guarding us well. We kind of tried to change it, create something with our defense, got a couple steals for baskets.”
Boise State shot a season-low 34.9 percent (22-of-63), with Derrick Marks and Anthony Drmic shooting a combined 11-of-42. Rice said San Diego State’s athleticism caused some problem, redirecting some of his strong shooters’ attempts.
“I think it led to a little bit of frustration for (Marks) and Anthony,” Rice said. “A few of their shots didn’t drop. I saw a little frustration on their face. You can’t play frustrated.”