Boise State vs. Utah State
Line: Boise State -1.5
Where: ExtraMile Arena
When: Wednesday, 2/17, at 9:00 p.m. ET
Boise State has a chance to draw level with Utah State at the top of the Mountain West standings on Wednesday night.
The Broncos are one game back of the Aggies in the loss column heading into a pivotal two-game series this week. Circa Sports opened Boise State as a 1.5-point favorite and the early betting action had not moved the line. The total opened at 137.5 points on Tuesday afternoon and remained there in the first few hours of action.
Boise State bounced back from a disappointing series at Nevada with a sweep of UNLV last week. The Broncos got off to a 10-1 start in the Mountain West before they were swept by the Wolfpack. Utah State has not played in nearly two weeks due to health and safety concerns.
This series has been controlled by the Aggies over the last few seasons, as they have won four of the last five meetings. They have also covered the spread in seven of their last eight trips to Boise State.
The Broncos have not lost at home this season, winning all 10 of their games at ExtraMile Arena. Head coach Leon Rice picked up program-record win No. 214 in Saturday’s 61-59 victory over UNLV. BSU had won its first nine home games by double-digit margins until slipping past the Runnin’ Rebels.
Utah State has covered the spread at a 12-2 clip in its last 14 games. The Aggies are one of the best defensive teams in college basketball, listed at No. 11 in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings. They are the third-best defensive rebounding team in the country.
They will be facing a Boise State offense that is No. 64 in adjusted efficiency. The Broncos shoot the ball well and limit turnovers, but they have not had much success on the offensive glass. They have a slight height advantage in this matchup, although both teams are in the top 30 nationally in average height.
Senior guard Derrick Alston Jr. is one of the best players in the conference, averaging 17.0 points per game. He poured in 27 points on 50.0 percent shooting in Saturday’s narrow win. Alston Jr. is scoring 19.0 PPG and is shooting 48.2 percent from the 3-point line in nine home games this season.
Senior forward Abu Kigab is scoring 12.8 points and is grabbing 5.8 rebounds. He is also a threat from the perimeter, knocking down 39.1 percent of his attempts at home. Junior guard Marcus Shaver Jr. is adding 11.6 PPG to round out the trio of double-digit scorers.
The Broncos have been an average defensive team, with their strength being on the defensive glass. They are No. 12 in rebounding, but they will face a Utah State offense that is No. 16 on the offensive boards. The Aggies are No. 110 in overall offensive efficiency, though.
Junior center Neemias Queta leads a balanced offensive attack with 12.5 PPG and is the team’s leading rebounder with 9.1 boards per game. He is shooting 56.8 percent from the floor and is consistently scoring between 10 and 14 points.
Junior guard Marco Anthony is contributing 11.2 PPG and is shooting at a 48.3 percent clip from beyond the arc in nine road games. Junior forward Justin Bean is also in double figures, adding 10.1 PPG and 7.3 RPG.
Utah State is 13-5 ATS in its last 18 games against Boise State. The Broncos are 2-4 ATS in their last six games.
BSU announced Tuesday afternoon that will allow fans to attend the game for the first time this season. The Broncos are expected to allow 900 fans into the arena.
The pick: Utah State +1.5 This game is going to come down to Utah State’s defense against Boise State’s offense. The Aggies might not have played in two weeks, but that is less of a concern given their strength is on the defensive end of the court. Boise State has been shaky ever since its long winning streak was snapped, losing three of its last five games. The Broncos barely snuck past UNLV as big favorites on Saturday. Utah State has dominated this series in recent years and has controlled its opponents on defense. The Aggies have had no issues playing on the road this season and can really take control of the conference standings with a sweep this week. They will win this one on the defensive end and in the rebounding department