Boise State got the expected result from its loss to Fresno State last Tuesday: the No. 4 seed in the Mountain West Tournament this week and the less-than-desirable quarterfinal matchup Thursday afternoon with No. 5 seed Nevada. The only desirable thing about it would be a quality win—if the Broncos can pull it off. The Wolf Pack is coming off a 85-82 upset of Colorado State and has been getting better by the week. But does Boise State want to face Nevada a third time after being swept in frustrating fashion in Reno? That’s when defensive deficiencies started to show, as the Pack shot 47 and 53 percent in the two games. On the other hand, does the Wolf Pack want to see the Broncos again? It’s hard to get three in a row over the same team.
DO YOU TRUST BRACKETOLOGY?
The good news for the Broncos: bracketologists Jerry Palm and Joe Lunardi still have the Broncos in the NCAA Tournament field, albeit at the bottom of the bubble. Palm’s reasoning: “They haven’t performed well against better competition, but its been a road-heavy schedule. Only two home games among the 10 they’ve played in Quadrant 1 and 2.” Palm points out that if the Broncos can get past Nevada, they’ll likely get another shot at San Diego State. Win that, and they’re in? Well, unless I’m mistaken, Palm and Lunardi are not on the selection committee. This is one process I do not trust. After the Fresno State loss, I said Boise State has to win it all this week. Okay, I’ll modify that. But I still believe the Broncos have to make the Mountain West championship game. Winning Thursday will be hard enough.
WASHINGTON & CORD ON THE SIDELINES
Spring football starts this Friday for Boise State in general, but not for Demitri Washington and Chase Cord in particular. Injuries will keep the duo from hitting the field. Washington, the edge rusher who had as many preseason kudos as any Bronco defender last fall, is still rehabbing the leg injury he suffered in the first quarter against Air Force on Halloween. Boise State felt his loss the rest of the abbreviated season. Cord will be missing his third straight spring football session. He was never healthy enough to play a down in 2020 after missing spring ball last year while healing a shoulder, knee and ankle. This unfortunate cycle began when Cord tore an ACL in practice in 2018 the week following an especially painful loss to San Diego State on the blue turf. Hopefully the guy can catch a break at some point.
BIGGERS COULD BE A BIG GET
The transfer portal continues to giveth. Last Thursday, Boise State picked up cornerback Caleb Biggers, who started 19 of his 24 games at Bowling Green the past three seasons. The Broncos certainly welcome the depth at a position that lost two multi-year starters, Avery Williams and Jalen Walker. Biggers thus throws his hat in the ring alongside Markel Reed, Tyric LeBeauf and Jaylen Clark, among others. Interestingly enough, Biggers doesn’t have any career interceptions, but he did return a fumble 100 yards for a touchdown in 2019. Biggers logged 26 tackles in Bowling Green’s five games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
VANDALS HANG IN VS. HAWK & THE AGGIES
Idaho was in prime position to protect its No. 19 ranking in the FCS Saturday, leading UC Davis 17-7 early in the third quarter in the Kibbie Dome. It was then that the Aggies caught fire, scoring 20 unanswered points to notch a 27-17 Big Sky victory. The Vandals were without eight starters—it hasn’t been disclosed whether COVID-19 was the cause, but three of those missing were on the offensive line, and another was kicker-punter Cade Coffey. As for UC Davis, one of the recruits coach Dan Hawkins scooped up out of the Treasure Valley proved his mettle. Lan Larison, the former Vallivue High star, carried 10 times for 66 yards and scored his first collegiate touchdown from nine yards out with 3:12 left in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
UNDERDOGS THIS TIME
Nabbing a fifth straight Mountain West tournament championship for the Boise State women is a long shot, but that’s why they play the games. The Broncos, the No. 6 seed, open tonight in Las Vegas against third-seeded Colorado State. They were routed twice by 20 and 22 points by the Rams in ExtraMile Arena in late January. But this Boise State squad and its 10 freshmen can put it together at the most unexpected times. The Broncos go in with one player on the All-Mountain West team, Jade Loville (no Mallory McGwire, curiously). They also placed two on the All-Freshman team Sunday, Alexis Mark and Abby Muse.
BIG SKY TOURNEY TAKES OFF
The Big Sky Tournament takes over Idaho Central Arena in Downtown Boise the next six days. It starts today with the women’s tourney, and lo and behold, Idaho State and Idaho go in as the top two seeds. The top-seeded Bengals debut at 11 a.m. Tuesday against today’s Portland State-Eastern Washington winner. The second-seeded Vandals play Tuesday at 5 p.m. versus the winner of this evening’s Northern Arizona-Weber State game. The men’s bracket opens play Wednesday—Idaho is the 11th seed and faces sixth-seeded Montana in one of the first round contests.
NNU’S FIRST DANCE
The Northwest Nazarene men are headed to the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time. The Nighthawks predictably erupted during the selection show Sunday night when the 48-team field was unveiled. NNU’s first round opponent will be Point Loma Nazarene of San Diego in Golden. CO, this Friday. The Nighthawks will be looking for big-time redemption in this one, as they lost 87-57 to the Sea Lions in the third game of the season on January 15. That was Point Loma’s first game. The Sea Lions have played only 10 times and are 8-2. NU is 11-4 after splitting over the weekend at Central Washington.
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March 8, 1971, 50 years ago today: Joe Frazier wins the “Fight of the Century” in a 15-round unanimous decision over Muhammad Ali to retain the world heavyweight championship. Both boxers came into the bout at Madison Square Garden undefeated, with Ali trying to get the title back after having it stripped away in 1967 over his refusal to be inducted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Ali went the distance, but Frazier had worn him down over the final three rounds and was the clear winner.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)