The Mountain West took some flak for getting multiple teams into this past season’s NCAA tournament, and the criticism was seemingly borne out as the league’s five bid-earners went 2-5 overall in tournament play. Boise State was one of the disappointments, losing out to La Salle in the preliminary games in Dayton.
So, the Broncos are looking to be a tougher out next season, and head coach Leon Rice knows from his time as an assistant at Gonzaga that mid-major credibility is built by playing anyone, anywhere, any time. He’s shooting for the moon as he attempts to fill out next season’s non-conference slate, trying to get a one-off date with the pre-pre-pre-season favorites, the Kentucky Wildcats, according to the Idaho Statesman.
The Broncos lose only one senior and return their top six scorers, making them a potential Top 25 and NCAA Tournament team. Rice noted that the November victory at then-No. 11 Creighton “was the gift that kept on giving” as the Broncos rode the tournament bubble and eventually made the NCAA field last month.
“We think we’re going to have a pretty good team coming back, so we want to give them some high-level games and high-level opportunities,” Rice said Thursday.
Of course, scheduling these types of games is only half of the equation. Winning at least one marquee matchup, as the Broncos did in Omaha last season, is key. If the Wildcats play like they did in their most recent NIT-flameout season, rather than their 2012 national championship-winning form, anything is possible.