LA SALLE EXPLORERS (21-9)
vs. BOISE STATE BRONCOS (21-10)
NCAA Tournament - First Round
Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:10 p.m. ET
Line: Boise State -1.5, Total: 139
Two teams wanting to prove they belong in the Field of 68 will clash on Wednesday night in Dayton when La Salle takes on Boise State in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.
La Salle won seven of its past 10 games to make the field, but enters with a two-game losing skid, dropping both contests by double-figures. Boise State is 5-2 SU (6-1 ATS) in its past seven games, but shot a dismal 34.9% FG in its Mountain West Tournament loss to San Diego State in its most recent game. The Explorers are 10-7 SU (7-8 ATS) away from home this season, including 2-1 (SU and ATS) on a neutral court. The Broncos are 8-6 ATS outside of Boise this season, going 1-1 SU (0-1 ATS) in their only two neutral-site games.
Which school will advance and face Kansas State in the Round of 64? For the answer, connect to 2013 NCAA Tourney Picks for all the Expert picks throughout the entire tournament. The four StatFox experts begin the NCAA Tournament on quite a roll, going a collective 75% ATS (35-12-1) in the season's final four days and 67% ATS (67-33-2) since March 9, with StatFox Gary going 75% ATS (12-4), StatFox Brian posting a 68% ATS mark (19-9-1), StatFox Dave also at 68% ATS (17-8) and StatFox Scott winning 61% ATS (19-12-1) in those final nine days. Gary has a 68% ATS record (23-11) since Feb. 27 to improve to 56.1% ATS (110-86-4) for the entire college basketball season.
La Salle sports a quality offense, scoring 72.4 PPG (60th in nation) with good shooting percentages of 44.8% FG, 37.1% threes and 73.8% free throws. Its +3.2 turnover margin (21st in nation) and 1.23 Ast/TO ratio (37th in D-I) shows how smart and disciplined this team really is. The problems arise with an average defense (66.0 PPG) that allows opponents to shoot 45.6% from the floor (303rd in D-I), but the Explorers have strong defensive guards with 8.1 SPG and they limit teams to 29.9% threes (21st in nation). The biggest weakness for La Salle comes on the glass, as it has been outrebounded by 3.0 RPG this season. Senior SG Ramon Galloway (17.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 2.0 SPG) has been outstanding this season, but picked a bad time to go ice-cold. During his team's two-game losing skid, Galloway has totaled 12 points on 4-of-22 shooting, including 0-for-11 from three-point range. Although he shoots just 41% FG for the season, his 40% clip on three-pointers and 82% free throw rate are both top-notch. Junior PG Tyreek Duren (15.0 PPG, 3.3 APG) has been on fire during a seven-game streak of 13+ points, averaging 18.6 PPG on 60% FG during this run. But despite the impressive offensive numbers, Duren has zero assists over 72 minutes in the past two games. Junior SG Tyrone Garland (12.9 PPG) also has zero assists over the past two games, but has scored at least a dozen points in six straight contests, averaging 15.3 PPG during this streak.Six-foot-8, 240-pound sophomore Jerrell Wright (10.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG) provides the muscle inside, coming off a double-double (14 pts, 11 reb) in the most recent loss to Butler. In his past five games, Wright has 12.8 PPG and 10.0 RPG, which is vital because C Steve Zack (6.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG) has missed the past three contests with a foot injury and won't play on Wednesday either.
Boise State is the better offensive team in this matchup, scoring 73.3 PPG on 45.9% FG and an outstanding 39.1% clip from three-point range (13th in nation). The Broncos are pretty careful with the basketball (+1.5 TO margin) and are a great rebounding team as well (+4.2 RPG margin). The defense is pretty average, not placing among the top-130 teams in the nation in points allowed (65.0 PPG), FG Pct. defense (43.1%) or stopping the three-point shot (33.2%). This team commits a ton of fouls (18.9 per game) and tallies only 1.7 blocks per game. The bulk of the scoring load falls on sophomore guards Anthony Drmic (17.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG) and Derrick Marks (16.3 PPG, 3.9 APG), who both shoot 46% from the floor. Drmic has at least 20 points in six of his past seven games, averaging 22.4 PPG during this stretch. Marks began the month with 38 points versus Colorado State and also scored 27 against San Diego State on March 9, but has been horrible in his past three non-home games with just 8.0 PPG on 8-of-36 shooting, including 4-for-22 in the MWC tourney loss to the Aztecs. Junior PF Ryan Watkins (8.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG) is a beast inside, but logs just 21.4 MPG, partially due to foul trouble. His presence on the court will be a key in Wednesday's game against a La Salle team that rebounds poorly. Junior SG Jeff Elorriaga (10.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG) provides the long-range shooting for the Broncos, making 2.93 threes per game on a stellar 45.1% clip (5th in nation). But despite logging 77 minutes over the past two games, he's scored just nine points combined on 3-of-8 shooting. He could also struggle to get open against the Explorers defense which does a great job guarding the perimeter.