Bubble Team Boise State Faces Must Win at Short-Handed San Diego State

boise state hoops

Matthew Jordan

Monday, February 26, 2018 5:32 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 5:32 PM UTC

It’s nothing short of a must-win game Tuesday night for NCAA Tournament bubble team Boise State, and the Broncos are likely to catch a major break as they visit San Diego State.

Boise State (22-6, 14-12 ATS) at San Diego State (17-10, 15-10 ATS)Free NCAAB Pick: Boise StateBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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If you are looking to bet an NCAA basketball game on Tuesday after 9 p.m. ET, Boise State-San Diego State from the Mountain West Conference is your only option with an 11 p.m. ET tip on the CBS Sports Network from Viejas Arena in beautiful San Diego.

Boise State is looking to wrap up the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament; the Broncos are alone in second at 12-4 in the Mountain West, two games behind Nevada and two ahead of third-place Fresno State and New Mexico. This is the Broncos’ final true road game of the season as they close the regular season Saturday at home vs. Wyoming. San Diego State is tied for fifth in the MWC at 9-7 and is probably NIT-bound at best assuming it doesn’t win the conference tournament.

On Jan. 13, Boise was a 3.5-point home favorite when it beat San Diego State 83-80 in overtime. That was a horrible beat for Broncos backers as star Chandler Hutchison missed a free throw with 12 seconds left that would have allowed Boise to cover. Hutchison was brilliant otherwise with a school-record 44 points, going 15-for-21 from the field and 7-for-10 from long range. Boise State won despite not getting a single point from its bench. Malik Pope had 18 points and nine rebounds for SDSU, but the Broncos apparently won’t have to deal with him this time around. More on that below.

The road team has covered five of the past six in this series.

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Breaks All Belong To Boise?

Boise State is currently listed by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi as among the “Next Four Out” for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid and in the “First 4 Out” by CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm, so it absolutely can’t afford to lose this game or Saturday vs. Wyoming and probably needs two wins in the MWC Tournament (or just win the whole thing).

The Broncos have an RPI of 46 but just one win over a Top 50 team: Loyola-Chicago. Boise State has 14 victories against teams 150-plus in the RBI and one horrible loss at Utah State. The Broncos also went 0-2 vs. regular-season MWC champion Nevada. Hutchison leads the conference in scoring at 19.9 ppg and is sixth in rebounding at 7.6 rpg. He has put up just the second 500-point, 200-rebound, 75-assist season in school history.

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Boise State's 273 3-pointers this season is No. 2⃣ in single-season school history, trailing only the 297 from the 2014-15 season. #BleedBlue pic.twitter.com/HC1SCpbB8s

— Boise State MBB (@BroncoSportsMBB) February 23, 2018

Two big-time breaks seemingly working in Boise’s favor here. The first that it hasn’t played since last Wednesday’s blowout win at Colorado State (thus well-rested) -- the 33-point victory was the Broncos’ largest margin of victory in a conference road game since Feb. 26, 2004 -- and the second that the Aztecs’ Pope, arguably the team’s best player and a co-captain, is almost surely not playing.

I’m sure you know all about those shocking stories over the weekend by Yahoo Sports! and ESPN regarding players all over the country receiving money from an agent. One name mentioned was Pope, who reportedly got a $1,400 loan during his 2015-16 sophomore season. The 6-foot-10 senior didn’t travel with the team Saturday as SDSU beat a horrible San Jose State squad 71-59. It was SDSU’s fourth straight win, matching its longest of the season. The average margin of victory during the streak is 19.8 ppg. I suppose it’s possible that Pope gets cleared by Tuesday, but that seems rather unlikely. Pope is averaging 12.7 points and 7.1 rebounds on the season.

The key number for BSU is 40: When it holds foes to under 40 percent shooting this season, it is 11-0. The Aztecs are 3-2 this season when shooting 40 percent or less from the field. Boise State has covered six of its past seven trips to SDSU, and Pope will certainly be missed here (Aztecs didn’t need him to beat San Jose State.) Go Boise for Tuesday’s NCAAB pick.

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