The Arizona Wildcats will take on the Boise State Broncos on Thursday night in Tucson in Arizona's toughest game to date.
Boise State is coming off of an NCAA Tournament bid last year, and are predicted to challenge the San Diego State Aztecs for the Mountain West crown in 2015-16.
We wanted to find out more about the Broncos, so we went to Mountain West Connection's Eli Boettger with a few questions ahead of Thursday's game:
1. Boise State opened the season with a loss at Montana. What was the Broncos' biggest downfall in that game?
Eli: Boise State led the majority of the game but the key to Montana's victory was forcing the Broncos into foul trouble. Every starter for BSU committed three or more fouls and Boise State's top post player, James Webb III, eventually fouled out after a frustrating night. His matchup, Martin Breunig, took advantage of Webb's struggles and converted every two-point shot he attempted. The Broncos were able to reach eight and nine point leads in both halves, but Montana continued to crawl back into the game on multiple occasions. In the end, the Broncos weren't able to finish the job.
2. What are expectations for this team among Boise fans? It seems like an NCAA Tournament trip is kind of expected, no?
Eli: The expectations are fairly high for Boise State this season. Last season was strongly considered the greatest year in school history for the Broncos. The loss of last season's Mountain West player of the year Derrick Marks will be a hit both on and off the floor, but Boise State has a formidable roster and could do some serious damage in 2015.
The key will be health and interior play this season. Boise's leader and go-to guy, Anthony Drmic, is coming off a season-ending ankle injury after only playing seven games last year. Drmic is an elite scorer who can hit from anywhere on the court, but if Drmic goes down again BSU could be in trouble.
Interior play will also be important for the Broncos. James Webb III plays the four and Nick Duncan is at the center position for BSU this year. Webb is extremely athletic and is projected to be a top 40 pick in next season's NBA Draft. Duncan stands at only 6-9 but defends opposing centers regardless of size mismatches. Outside of Webb and Duncan, the depth is a big question mark for the Broncos. Inexperienced freshmen and sophomores might have to play meaningful minutes this season in the post.
3. What one matchup do you think Boise will try to take advantage of the most in this game?
Eli: It's hard to point to a single one-on-one matchup that Boise State would try to exploit because the Broncos rely upon quick ball movement to get open looks on the perimeter and inside. The most important player Thursday night for Boise State could be forward Nick Duncan. The Broncos should expect Anthony Drmic to carry his load, but if Duncan has a quiet night, Boise State will be in trouble. If Duncan can knock down a few threes and limit the damage on the defensive end, this should be a competitive contest.
Thanks to Eli for taking the time to answer a few questions about BSU. Be sure to visit Mountain West Connection for all of your Mountain West needs, and follow Eli on Twitter and check out all of their BSU basketball coverage