As part of its preview of the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All stats are through Monday, March 16.
Record: 25-8 (14-4 MWC)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 109.4 (48th)/96.5 (64th)
Seed: First Four
Impact player: Derrick Marks, senior, guard. 19.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 113.8 offensive rating
The Case for: In Marks, the Broncos have the kind of fearless and talented scorer that March can make into a mythical figure. He takes a whopping 36.0% of Boise State’s shots when on the floor (third highest in the country) and makes them count, ranking 11th nationally in kenpom.com’s offensive efficiency rating among players who use at least 28% of their teams possessions; nobody ahead of him on the list uses as many as Marks. It is not at all difficult to imagine the guard catching fire with a flurry of brazen shots, stirring a neutral crowd into a frenzy and sending a higher seed home early—that is, if the Broncos can make it past a de facto road game against Dayton in the First Four.
Marks has capable complements in forwards James Webb III and Nick Duncan, the latter of whom has posted 23- and 26-point games in recent weeks. The 6’9” Webb is ferocious on the defensive boards, ranking 18th nationally in rebounding percentage on that end, and his inside-outside game—he shoots 42.1% from three—could be valuable in creating mismatches. Taking after Webb, the Broncos are a strong team on the defensive glass (16th nationally by percentage) and take care of the ball well (23rd in offensive turnover percentage).
The Case against: A team as dependent on one player as the Broncos can be on Marks can be undone by an off night, like the 6-of-21 performance in a Mountain West tournament loss to Wyoming last week. Marks does a considerable amount of damage as a pick-and-roll ballhandler (26.1% of his used possessions, per Synergy Sports), so a team that switches well or can hedge hard could limit a go-to source of offense. And while Webb and Duncan can be quality sidekicks, they also both can be inconsistent. Duncan, for instance, preceded his 26-point showing against New Mexico with three points against Nevada and followed it with a goose egg against San Diego State.
The Broncos also do not rebound their misses very well, ranking 288th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage, so if their frequent threes are not falling, they are unlikely to get many second chances. Boise State is also vulnerable on the defensive interior, ranking in just the 11th percentile nationally on post-up defense according to Synergy Sports.
SI prediction: Lose to Dayton in First Four