BYU will play the fourth game of a big six-game stretch when they take on Boise State Wednesday night in the Marriott Center. The six-game stretch — which includes USC, St John’s, Utah State, Boise State, Utah, and San Diego State — will go a long way in determining if BYU has a shot to gain an at-large NCAA tournament berth.
Boise State was picked to finish second in the preseason MWC poll behind San Diego State and right ahead of Utah State. Vegas currently has BYU as a 5-point favorite, but this will be a tough test for BYU. Boise State beat BYU 72-68 in OT last year and BSU returns key contributors from that squad along with some key additions.
6-foot-9 guard Derrick Alston is Boise State’s top player and poses huge matchup problems. This could be an important Gideon George game, as he has the size and athleticism to matchup with Alston.
BSU’s starting point guard is Marcus Shaver, who should be a familiar name to BYU fans. Shaver was Portland’s starting point guard for two years before transferring and sitting out last season. Shaver averaged 14.8 ppg his last season at portland and averages 12.3 ppg so far this season.
Another newcomer is former Arizona player and 5-star wing Emmanuel Akot. Akot played two seasons at Arizona and sat out last season after transferring. He missed Boise State’s opener versus Houston due to COVID protocols and has slowly assimilated himself back into the lineup. Akot is an athletic guard/forward and can cause problems for BYU if he is part of Boise’s rotation.
East Tennessee State transfer Mladen Armus is BSU’s 6-foot-10 starting big man and leads the Broncos with 7.7 rebounds per game to go along with 8 ppg.
BYU has more size inside than Boise State and more shooters on the team. If BYU can control the glass, shoot the three ball well, and limit Boise State’s penetration with Matt Haarms protecting the rim, BYU has a good chance to come out on top.
Boise State is breaking some new pieces, but they have a talented enough roster to win the MWC and could cause BYU major matchup issues if they are clicking. This game may not move the needle much now, but it could look nice come March if Boise State hits its stride.
Boise State by the Numbers:
KenPom Ranking: 96
Wins: Sam Houston State, College of Idaho
Losses: #7 Houston (68-58)
KenPom Odds: BYU 61% chance to win