Boise State vs. Wyoming: preview, how to stream, odds and more
Boise State vs. Wyoming preview
Both teams are looking to build on their winning streak on New Year’s Day.
Two of Mountain West’s hottest teams help kick off the conference in Laramie on New Years Day.
WHO: Boise State (10-4, 1-0 in MWC) vs. Wyoming Cowboys (11-2, 0-0 in MWC)
WHEN: Saturday January 1, 2:00 p.m. MT, 1:00 p.m. PT
OR: Arena Auditorium-Laramie, WY
LOOK: CBS Sports Network
STREAM: FuboTV – Get a Free Trial
Line: KenPom, the Cowboys are favored by 1 point
SERIES REGISTRATION: Boise State leads all-time series 14-19
The non-conference gaming is over and upon us is the exciting feeling of a brand new calendar year associated with the game Mountain West. With a New Year’s Day filled with conference games.
Perhaps the most balanced game will be in the Dome of Doom between two teams with winning dynamics as well as players soaring.
Boise State is currently leading a seven-game winning streak. After two impressive wins over Washington State of the Pac 12 (58-52) and a strong 65-55 home opener against Fresno State on Tuesday night.
When the Broncos organized a 17-5 run to close the game, led by red-shirted senior guard Marcus Shaver Jr. with 18 points and 4 assists. Also lending his hand in 9 of those last 17 points.
Kicking off the season with an eight-game winning streak, the Cowboys have since won three of their last five games. Dropping out of games against Pac-12 opponents Stanford and Arizona ranked top 10 in recent times. But during the same time frame, they’ve also had wins against some very strong programs in northern Iowa, the Utah Valley, and South Florida.
This latest clash against the Bulls ended in a 77-57 victory in their final game of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.
Wyoming was led by sophomore big man Graham Ike, who had 20 points and 7 rebounds. The big man 6-9 committed fouls throughout the game, heading for the line for a total of 16 free throw attempts, knocking down 12 of them. His co-star senior playmaker Hunter Maldonado who reprized his role of maestro extraordinary, contributed 22 points with 10 assists and just 2 turnovers.
The last time these two enemies of the conference met was on January 13 of this year. When the Broncos beat the Cowboys by twenty points in their 90-70 win at the Arena Auditorium.
This is a very underrated clash in Mountain West, with a lot going on as they come together for the New Year.
Matchup of the game: Graham Ike vs. Boise State frontcourt
Ike has been a big dominant for the Cowboys so far this season. He’s managed to score in double digits in every game this season.
His Bronco counterpart, Mladen Armus, is another great man. Focused more on the boards and helping to patrol the paint the best he can, Armus is averaging 7.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 1.3 BPG.
His defensive assignment on Saturday might need a little help. As Graham averages almost 20 points per game, he has had six performances over 20 points so far. He also draws more fouls than anyone in the nation (per KenPom) while going to the line 92 times this season as well (2nd in the country). And he knocks them down at a reasonable rate for a young big.
His presence on the court requires a lot of attention. Don’t expect Armus to silence one of the conference’s top scorers this season, but with the right help from his teammates, they may be able to keep him below his season 12 low. points (against UNI).
And a far cry from his season-high 35 points against Denver. The length and vertical speed of teammates Emmanuel Akot and Abu Kigab might just be what it takes, but they’ll likely be busy on their own.
The X factor
For the State of Boise: defense of the perimeter
The Broncos have won seven in a row, mostly because of an impressive defensive run from this team in recent times.
A quick glance at the Broncos’ 10-point win over Fresno State would show another Swiss army knife-dominant performance Orlando Robinson from Andy Dieckhoff of Mountain West Wire & Heat Check CBB. The 7-footer still managed a record 22 points, including 15 points in the second half.
Boise State might not be able to slow Graham Ike down. Where they can find their advantage is to remove the Cowboys’ three-point shot from the photo. Which may be easier said than done.
Jeff Linder’s team as a whole shoot at 35.4% from depth. But with a few snipers in senior Drake Jeffries (48.1%) and sophomore Xavier DuSell (39.1%) on nearly 173 attempts combined, perimeter defense will be key.
For Wyoming: all on the bridge offensively
The Broncos are in the midst of a historic defensive streak in their seven-game winning streak. Keep opponents sixty points or less with shooting averages of 37.5% from the field and 27.6% from the three-point range.
And while that 58.2 PPG opponent average is good enough for the 15th nationally, the Broncos aren’t necessarily shooting gym teams either. With an average of 69.1 PPG and modest shooting percentages of 44.7% from the field and 34.2% from depth.
Wyoming need to come out and shoot to keep that W at home and break a seven-game losing streak against the Broncos on Saturday.
To do that, they need more than just a stellar performance from top scorer Graham Ike (19.5 PPG) in this one. As mentioned above, the Broncos can survive a big performance from a big, dominant man and still win a game.
Although, unlike the Bulldogs, who average only 65.7 PPG and lack other consistent scoring threats. The Cowboys by clicking can get points from multiple positions.
With four players averaging in double digits at Ike, Maldonado (17.3 PPG), DuSell (11.5 PPG Jeffries (10.0 PPG). Totaling 77.5 PPG as a team (72nd in the country), Wyoming has the options to beat the Broncos, but needed solid facilitation from Maldonado (5.9 APG) and warm hands from his perimeter scorers to help their big man to victory.
Prediction: Wyoming 65, Boise 64
This game will be as close as KenPom expected. Which makes the guess here very difficult but also a little exciting.
The argument for home court advantage gets a little hard to make in this one. Because although the Broncos are Mountain West’s most victorious team at Laramie since joining the conference in 2011-2012 (8-3). The Cowboys are 6-0 unbeaten this season at home.
Although it does not seem so clear. I think the Cowboys have more at stake in this one. Ranked 33rd in the recent NET ranking and also highlighted in recent bracketology projections, this appears to be a test of quality and an inescapable victory from the start of the home conference. I think Coach Linder’s team does it on New Years Day.
– Wyoming Cowboy Basketball (@wyo_mbb) December 29, 2021
Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W / Jay & Larry”. He is also a member of the USWBA.