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Mountain West Conference Clash: Colorado St. at Boise St.

Boise State Men's Basketball vs Fresno State, John Kelly photo

Tonight’s Mountain West Conference affair represents Boise State’s annual “Black Out” game at Taco Bell Arena as the Broncos will be wearing their black jerseys and fans are being encouraged to wear black as well. The Broncos also take the floor with legitimate same-season revenge after 71-65 at Colorado State on December 31 as 7.5-point underdogs.

That fact is relevant in that Boise State has dropped the first game of a conference series nine times over the past two seasons, and the Broncos are 7-2 in the return games (4-1 in 2012-2013; 3-1 in 2013-2014). I also like the fact that Boise State has reeled off four consecutive conference wins and stand at 4-1 at home in this series, with the lone loss coming on November 20, 1991.

Boise State has become well-known for its offensive prowess since the arrival of head coach Leon Rice five years ago. Indeed, Boise State has led its conference in scoring three times under Rice, including pacing the Mountain West in each of the last two years. Despite losing its most valuable player in Anthony Drmic, who underwent season-ending ankle surgery on January 15, the Broncos are 7-1 at home this season where they are averaging 78.2 points per game on 48.2% shooting from the field and 41.5% from beyond the arc. Overall, Boise State’s attack is 6.2 points per game better than average (72.2 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 66.0 points per game).

Boise State’s attack is led by senior Derrick Marks, who is averaging 25.5 points per game in 2015 (third most in the country) and has led the Broncos in scoring in each of the last six games. Marks also leads the Mountain West in scoring at 19.2 points per game, while also averaging a league-best 23.0 points per game in conference play.

Of the 662 players in the nation averaging at least eleven points per game, Marks is the only one shooting 50% from the field, 50% from three-point range and 85% from the free throw line. Marks dedicated the entire offseason to improving his jumpshot, and that dedication has paid dividends this season as he is shooting 52.2% from the field and 52.6% from beyond the arc.

I also like the fact that Boise State ranks 12th in the nation in fewest turnovers with 10.2 per game. Boise State is also the best free throw shooting team in the Mountain West and commits the fewest turnovers per game in the league. The Broncos also possess a very good defense that is allowing just 53.9 points per game at home on 36.0% shooting from the floor and 30.3% from three-point territory.

The Broncos are also allowing just 62.0 points per game in conference play and 60.2 points in their last five games. Overall, Boise State is 4.1 points per game better than average defensively this season (62.1 points per game to teams that would combine to average 66.2 points per game).

From a technical standpoint, Colorado State is 16-35-2 ATS in its last 53 games, including 8-21-1 ATS versus teams with a winning record, 3-8 ATS in its last eleven road games, 8-23-1 ATS following a win, 7-19-1 ATS on the road versus teams owning a .601 or greater home record and 2-8 ATS in its last ten road games versus teams with a winning home record.

The Rams are also a money-burning 3-13 ATS as underdogs over the last two season, 19-39 ATS in January road games and 5-14 ATS following a home win. Colorado State is also enjoying a 4-game win streak, which is significant in that the Rams are 1-7 ATS off four or more consecutive wins this season.

Finally, Boise State is 56-15 at Taco Bell Arena under coach Rice, including winning 35 of its last 42 games at home. With Colorado State coming off an emotional 79-73 home win over San Diego State, which was the Rams’ annual “White Out” game that also involved revenge, take the Broncos on the money line and invest with confidence.

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