IDAHO — Boise State Broncos men's basketball team is going dancing in Portland on Thurs., March 17.
The 8-seed Broncos will face the number 9-seed Memphis Tigers in their first-round matchup of the NCAA Tournament. Bronco fans and students lined up at ExtraMile Arena today to send the team off to Portland ahead of the game.
“Now it's win or go home, and that is enough motivation in itself cause this is a team that would like to keep playing for a long time,” Leon Rice, BSU head coach said.
“We know a lot about Memphis. I've watched them quite a bit, we had the opportunity to watch them on the plane, and holy cow are they athletic. They get after you defensively, we know that from last year,” Rice added.
These two teams met last year in the NIT. Memphis eliminated the Broncos 59 to 56 in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
“They have a lot of those guys that we played last year, and holy cow they were a really really good team when we played them and they’re better now,” Rice said.
In the sports betting books, Memphis is a two-and-a-half-point favorite in the game.
“They are super athletic, and they get after the ball really hard," Rice said. "They can disrupt a game, and really not let you do what you are trying to do and try and play it on their terms."
"Then, they make up for any mistakes they make with their extreme athleticism, and they are one of the best rebounding teams in the country too, so all those things make for tough sledding against them,” Rice added.
This matchup comes after the Broncos made school history this past weekend by winning their first-ever Mountain West Championship with a victory over San Diego State. This will be the Broncos eighth trip to the Dance and their first since 2015.
“Our guys are excited and you know it’s a special special day to be one of the teams selected even though we knew we were selected because of the automatic qualifier, but it is still a special moment when you see the name come up on the board,” Rice said.
“Every team here is good. You have to play good basketball here on out which, that is the way it has been for us in the last month, so it will be nothing different," he added.
Tipoff is set for 11:45 a.m. at the Moda Center in Portland. The winner will likely face Gonzaga, Rice's previous school he coached at, in Round Two of March Madness.