Boise State at New Mexico State (Western Athletic)
Pan American Center - Las Cruces, NM
9:00 PM EST
Every year, there's one undisputed apex of Championship Fortnight, that one title game that ESPNU chops up into a 90-minute clip show and Hoops Nation remembers forever. In 2005, it was Ohio's come-from-behind MAC masterpiece
. The following year, the A-Sun's Battle of the Boulevard was for everything
. Two seasons ago, Miami's miracle shot against Akron, the Doug Penno game
, took 10 post-buzzer minutes to figure out. And last year, the battle of attrition that closed the WAC tourney was the best game of all.
Boise State outlasted and outhooped New Mexico State 107-102
in that triple-overtime classic
, a game with 10 double-figure scorers and nearly as many momentary heroes. What's forgotten a bit is that this was a No. 4 defeating a No. 3, and that both teams had dispatched top seeds Utah State (BSU) and Nevada (NMSU) in the semis. With both the U-Aggies and Wolf Pack lining up to take those top spots again heading into Reno, and looking vulnerable in recent weeks, both of these squads in tonight's G!O!T!N! could be just as dangerous -- despite having lost a lot from their respective 2008 casts of characters. The NMSU Aggies, led by 2008 MMCOY Marvin Menzies, got off to a rough start with its depleted (yet considerably more civilized) roster, but has won five or seven to climb back into position for a good tourney seed. It's a very young team that will return as a strong NCAA candidate next year, but already has four double-figure scorers led by sophomore Jahmar Young
(18.3 ppg). It's the eighth-best 3-point shooting team in the nation (40.4 percent), and doesn't die by the 3 all that often, leading the WAC with a 31.8 percent long-distance percentage defense in league games.
Boise State (17-10, 7-6), on the other hand, is struggling to keep its fortunes above .500. Losers of three straight, like NMSU this team is coming off a loss at La Tech;
the Broncos have been dealing with inconsistent defense of late. Last year's big frontcourt three of Reggie Larry, Matt Nelson and Tyler Tiedeman are gone, but Greg Graham has solid big-man talent in development with guys like sophomore Paul Noonan
(10.8 ppg), and like last season, the top four scorers are all 6-7 or taller. As with other recent Boise teams, though, wins and losses usually hang in the balance of the team's backcourt play. Senior Anthony Thomas
, the team's highest-scoring guard, is averaging 9.3 ppg in Bronco wins, and 6.4 ppg in losses.Basketball State Preview/Box