Head Coach: Greg Graham
Conference: Western Athletic Conference
Coached by Greg Graham, who is in his fifth season at Boise State, the Broncos are a high octane offensive club, averaging 82 points per game this season. They are led by 6-6 forward Reggie Larry, who averaged 19.7 points, hitting 43 percent from three-point range. Larry, the WAC Tournament MVP, had 31 points and 16 rebounds in the win over New Mexico State.
Picked to finish fifth in the WAC this season, Boise State won the WAC Tournament as a four-seed. In the championship game, the Broncos had all five starters score in double figures, including all-tournament selections 6-9 forward Mark Nelson (26 points and nine rebounds) and 6-3 guard Matt Bauscher (14 and 9). Nelson averaged 15.6 points and 7.3 rebounds, while 6-7 forward Tyler Tiedeman averaged 14 points and 3.4 rebounds.
While Boise State routinely plays 7-9 players, the Broncos rely primarily on their five starters, who all average more than 28.4 minutes per game. An excellent shooting team, four of Boise State's five starters shoot better than 50 percent from the field, led by Nelson at 65 percent. Overall, Boise State shoots 50.9 percent as a team from the field, including 39.7 percent from three-point range. Four Boise State players made more than 30 three's on the season, led by Tyler Tiedeman's 82.
Louisville's post-players vs. Boise State's frontcourt: David Padgett, Earl Clark and Derrick Caracter pose real problems for a slightly undersized Boise State frontcourt. Padgett's height and post-skills, Clark's length and athleticism and Caracter's physical strength and low-post offensive ability, will give Broncos coach Greg Graham nightmares as he prepares to play the Cardinals on Friday. If Louisville dominates the paint – and the boards – it will be a long night from Boise State.
Louisville's backcourt vs. Boise State's backcourt: Louisville guards Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith and Andre McGee are struggling offensively entering tournament play. The trio combined to shoot just 3 for 27 in the loss to Pittsburgh and managed just four points total in the loss to Georgetown. If Louisville hopes to stay around awhile, those three, plus reserve Preston Knowles, need to provide positive offensive production. Boise's State guards Anthony Thomas and Matt Bauscher combined for 239 assists with just 122 turnovers this season. Neither are big scorers but they can both hit the three and take care of the basketball.
Boise State's toughest non-conference game came against Washington State in November. Boise State lost that contest at home, 86-74. The Broncos finished 12-4 in the WAC and 13-4 in non-conference games.
Ranked No. 87 in the RPI, the Broncos knocked off New Mexico State, a team that had defeated them twice in the regular-season, in the WAC Tournament finals to earn an automatic to the NCAA Tournament. The Broncos played the nation's 196th-best schedule this season.
While Boise State will be a formidable opponent, the Cardinals should have advantages in three key areas: Size, depth and NCAA Tournament experience. With a frontcourt that goes 6-6, 6-7 and 6-9, Louisville should be able to cause problems with their size up front, especially with 6-11 center David Padgett and 6-9 forward Earl Clark. Matt Nelson, at 232 pounds, is Boise State's heaviest frontcourt player so the Broncos could have trouble keeping both Padgett and 265-pound Derrick Caracter from establishing low-post position.
Depth could also be a problem for Boise State, whose starters each average more than 28 minutes per game. That could be problematic against the Cardinals, who routinely go 9 or 10 deep. Louisville's depth, combined with the pressure the Cardinals like to apply to opponents, could wear down the Broncos in the second half.
Boise State, making their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 14 seasons – the Broncos were beaten by Louisville in 1994 in the first round – doesn't have tournament experience, an important ingredient for success in the Big Dance. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have a roster stocked with players who understand the pressure of playing in the NCAA Tournament. David Padgett and Juan Palacios, a starter on the 2005 Final Four team, are both making their third NCAA Tournament appearance. Starters Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa each are making their second appearance in the NCAA's.
And don't forget this fact: Louisville coach Rick Pitino should be able to get an in-depth scouting report on Boise State from New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies, who was an assistant at Louisville the past two seasons. New Mexico State played the Broncos three times this season, winning 2 of 3 games.
Scouting Report: Boise State
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